August 2012 Archives
The whisky world has taken quite a shine to the travel retail market over recent years. So much so that there are now bottlings created and made available exclusively to this segment of the market. Why not? After all, travelers are typically affluent and subjected to internal and external pressures for souvenirs and gifts. Above all, they're trapped with nowhere else to while away the time before boarding, other than the nearest pub in the airport's terminal (Ã la yours truly) or the ubiquitous "Duty Free" shop. Now, I'm not one to turn a blind eye to these discount shops, and thankfully neither is my co-worker who recently returned from Italy with this bottle as a gift for me.
Created to celebrate Alan Winchester's 2009 appointment to the post of Master Distiller, and offered exclusively to the travel retail market, the Master Distiller's Reserve bares no age statement and arrives in the glass at a standard 40% ABV. Featuring a cask combination of ex-sherry, first fill ex-bourbon, and re-fill American oak hogsheads, this whisky is easily accessible to people with all levels of whisky experience.
The Arran Malt continues to enthral us with their unique and enjoyable line of cask finishes. Our latest review is of their Napolean Cognac cask finish. Aged in Cognac casks from A. Hardy, this was a purchase from the venerable Park Avenue Liquor Shop in New York City. The bottling we enjoyed was number 241 of 442, and was released at a powerful 57.8% cask strength. This is definitely a different palate than your typical sherry or wine finished whiskies, so read on to learn more about it.
Nose: There is a slight cherry cough syrup aspect here, which dissipates after adding water. Elegant and powerful grapes is the first scent to otherwise hit the nose. A strong wood stain scent develops into sweet red berries with butterscotch. Moving through the layers, you'll begin to feel like you're in your grandmother's attic, complete with wafting mothballs when smelled from a distance. A touch of citrus rounds out this nose, which despite the high alcohol content, is surprisingly low on alcohol vapours.
Ardbeg distillery enjoys a cult-like status among its ardent supporters that few others seem to approach. From the Ardbeg Committee and its exclusive annual releases, to the first annual Ardbeg Day held this year on 2 July, there is no shortage of fervour surrounding its whiskies. At the nexus of this fanaticism is none other than the distillery's core expression: the 10 year old.
Polarizing and powerful, this whisky is bottled at 46%, non-chillfiltered, and can either clear a room or fill it depending on who you ask. Rich and flavourful no matter how one regards its properties, it is certainly worth exploring at least three or four times before judgment is passed, and deserves an even longer look from those that proclaim their love of peaty whiskies as there are few standard expressions that carry phenol level of 54ppm.