Need a reason to raise a dram? Well today is National Scotch Day. If that’s not enough reason to pull out the Peat Monster, Highland Park, or Chivas then I don’t know what is.
If you’re in the Atlanta area, Mac McGee’s Pub in Decatur is having scotch related pairing, specials, and activities this evening from 5PM on. Check it out!
Drink wisely my friends,
Some time ago, I attended a special tasting of Tullibardine single malt whisky at The Brandy Library. Since I was somewhat impressed by the uniqueness of Tullibardine and had a lot of questions, Adam Jacobs of Total Beverage Solution hooked me up with James Robertson, International Sales Manager for Tullibardine (who missed the tasting due to volcanic activity in Iceland). What follows is the result of an interview with James Robertson conducted by email.
Matt: James, what is your official title?
James Robertson: International Sales Manager
M: How long have you been in this position?
JR: Just over 2 years, before that I worked in the wine trade for 15 years including 8 years with Taittinger and Louis Jadot.
M: I really enjoy the unique character of the ’93 vintage. Is this what we can expect from Tullibardine in the future?
JR: At the end of last year we produced our first bottling of new Tullibardine (made from spirit after 2003) tasted blind against the 1993 at recent events in Canada and Europe customers have been amazed how similar the profile is for a single malt which is in effect 6 years old.
M: Are the same barley strains available now as when the distillery was mothballed? If not, how do you plan on recapturing the unique profile built under previous ownership?
JR: The Barley used comes from as local a source as we can get, harvests permitting. The profile is certainly being retained but also we feel improved by following the same model as before but also in much better cask purchasing.
M: Is the plan to continue with the vintage model instead of an age statement or will that change once you start bottling the whiskies produced after 2003?
JR: The plan is at the moment to continue with the vintage statement although the new bottling mentioned earlier has no age statement but is called “Aged Oak Edition”. There may well be no age statement wood finishes to follow, so Tullibardine Port Finish for example.
M: When will we see whisky made completely under the new management hit the market?
JR: In most markets the Aged Oak has arrived but I am not sure when we will get it onto the US market, soon I hope!
M: When you opened up the warehouse doors in 2003, did you find anything that surprised you? Will there be any weird one-off bottlings like we’ve seen with Bruichladdich?
JR: There were no real surprises although I think that most commentators would agree that we have been exceptionally lucky in the quality of the 1960 casks that we have bottled to date. All of them have been very fruity and not woody at all. Our oldest cask from 1952 will be bottled in the near future. We will not be increasing the range too much as we feel that we do not want to go down the route of “shelf pollution” as one retailer put it about distilleries releasing too many expressions but we have got some casks being finished off in Banyuls which is probably a first!
M: What can we expect from Tullibardine in the future?
JR: We aim to produce single malts that retain the elegant, delicate and fruity style of Tullibardine and also to maintain the policy of selling our single malts at a price across the range that means that at each level they do not just sit on the shelf.
M: Thank you so much for your time. I know I’m looking forward to seeing more Tullabardine on the shelf. I’m especially interested to see what Banyuls casks do to the spirit. Hopefully, we’ll cross paths at a whisky festival in the near future.
There you have it folks. If you’re looking for a slightly different single malt, go looking for Tullibardine. It looks like it’s only going to get more interesting.
Contest news from The Balvenie:
Just in time for the holidays, The Balvenie is offering the chance to win a one-of-a-kind prize: An exclusive Scotch Whisky nosing and tasting kit. This unique kit contains 24 separate aromas and a dedicated nosing guide, as well as other essential whisky tasting tools. The lucky winner will also receive an exquisite Balvenie hipflask.
Visit this link to enter:
The good folks at The Balvenie also wanted me to remind you about this year’s addition to the 17 year old range, The Balvenie 17 Year Old Madeira Cask. Richard and I sampled this at WhiskyFest this year. It’s a good dram. The nose is a little weak, but it packs a wallop on the palate (a reversal from last year’s Rum Cask). I’m still waiting for a 17 year old that knocks me out like the Islay Cask, but this will tide me over until then.
The Balvenie website is also offering some new features in the member’s only “Warehouse 24” area. They’ve added a “whisky shelf” for members to catalog their whisky collections and even create a wish list. You can also make your shelf public so other Warehouse 24 members can view your extensive collection and benefit from your tasting insight. In case you are wondering, it is not just for whiskies from the Balvenie. There are over 20,000 users with a wide range of tastes and preferences. I played with the features a little last night. It’s fun and serviceable, but not as extensive as similar services that provide more of a social network feel like Connosr. While you are surfing the net, you should try that one too.
Whisky Magazine just released an article discussing a conundrum within Scottish whisky (read the full article here). There are new regulations before British Parliament that will change the definition of ‘Scotch malt whisky.’ Part of these regulations, set to go into effect November 23, requires malt whisky to be produced using copper pot stills. It would seem like a no-brainer. After all, tradition states that single malts are produced in pot stills and column stills are reserved for ‘lesser’ grain alcohols used in blends. However, Loch Lomond distillery outside of Glasgow produces whisky using an energy efficient still instead of a traditional pot still. According to the new regulations, whisky distilled at Loch Lomond will no longer be able to bear the title ‘Scotch malt whisky’.
Presumably, these regulations are to protect consumers and distillers alike from dubious producers (at home and abroad) using inferior products to undermine the Scottish whisky industry. Loch Lomond produces a whisky much loved by Jim Murray. So, one can assume that the energy efficient still produces quality whisky. Murray even implies that the whisky has improved in quality since upgrading the still around two years ago. Should one of the most energy efficient distilleries in Scotland be marginalized for environmental concern? Is tradition and protectionism more important than carbon footprint regardless of product quality? Furthermore, would allowing Loch Lomond to continue using the ‘Scotch malt whisky’ label open the floodgates allowing all sorts of still configurations?
These are all tough questions. Quality does not seem to be the issue for Loch Lomond. So, in this case, it seems like harnessing the industry with the yoke of tradition. Quite a heavy yoke at that. But, can we apply regulations by situation. That seems rather random and unfair. In my experience, I have preferred pot stilled whiskies and whiskeys around 70% of the time (the major exceptions being mainly American whiskeys). That leads me to side with the ‘tradition’ side, but the crunchy hippy in me is livid that anyone should be punished for trying to green-up their production process. Ultimately, I’m all for quality control. However, I’m not sure this is the way to go. Anybody else have thoughts on this?
We’ve recently mentioned the re-release of The Spice Tree from Compass Box Whisky. This is more than exciting to me, as this was one of my favorites when it was first released. You can read our review of the first release here. We will let you know about the new one as soon as possible.
Well, Compass Box is also bringing back Orangerie, an “infusion of fresh, hand-zested organic orange zest, cassia and clove in 10 year-old Scotch whisky.”
Look for these two drams this fall and something extra special closer to winter time. Compass Box is releasing a very limited, one time release of old vatted malt inspired by the “Lucky Blend.” The new whisky will be called Lady Luck and I can’t wait to try it.
For more information about these whiskies, hit up the Compass Box website.
Drink well, drink responsibly.