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New/Reviewed Single Malts

Looking for a new single malt to try?  Need a present for the holiday for a friend or yourself?  Look for Laphroaig's new Select and Craigellaiche's new 13.  Both excellent whiskies.  Select is a limited production, so get it while it's still available.  Check back for our reviews on these that will be appearing soon.
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Single MaltReview
Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Just came across the Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask. If you haven't heard of it, then you can thank me later. Despite Macallan's recent statements about NAS bottlings, they've still got aged bottling coming and this one's a beaut for a number of reasons. First, is it's unique use of two types of casks. According to the bottle's packaging, Macallan had American oak casks shipped to Spain and then had sherry stored in them. Once casks were emptied of the sherry, they were shipped to Macallan. For the Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask, the whisky was matured in both the American Oak ex-sherry casks and European Oak ex-sherry casks for 12 years. Then, these whiskies according to Macallan’s write-up are “harmoniously united.” Having tasted the whisky I would definitely concur that it was a harmonious uniting. The whisky delivers everything promised in Macallan’s tasting notes on the box. It’s a party for your nose and mouth with aromas of butterscotch, toffee, apple, orange, vanilla, and oak notes and honey, wood, citrus, raisins, and caramel on the palate. Their notes on the finish are also spot on. It’s sweet and warm and lingers with pleasant oak notes. Of course, if you want to get all that this wonderful new whisky has to offer, let it warm up and breath before you beginning your nosing and quaffing…the wait will be worth it. My only criticism is that this malt is so easy drinking that I may run out of it too fast. 
Laphroaig 200th Anniversary 15 Year Old versus Lahroaig 18 The heavens aligned and I ended up with two expressions from Laphroaig this holiday season. First, Mr. J, from Flicks got me a bottle of the 15 year which is a special 200th anniversary bottling. Next, via Chicago, Mr. B purchased on my behalf an 18 year bottling that the distillery releases from time to time. The 15 is a medium golden hue. The nose shows malt, with a citrus and earthy peat. A little funky wood. On the palate, I find a silky mouth feel dominated by a peaty malt, salt, and some fruity citrus. The 15 is not as dominated by peat as the 10 year. Quite a bit more fruit with that wonderful saltiness of an Islay. The 18 is slightly more gold. The nose is a smoky bourbon with a strong medicinal peat. The palate opens with a strong cherry cough syrup peat with smoke and strong salt; spicy mid-palate with the cherry and salt still present. Finishes with salt, malt, and the cherry giving way to an orange marmalade. This the first whisky I have tasted with cherry in it. Delish. I gave the 15 a score of 92, and the 18 a 95. The 15 and 18 are both worth seeking out. The flavors are more dominate in the 18, but the 15 is more harmonious with better mouth feel. Reviewed by Tod 
Ardbeg SUPERNOVA SN2015 reviewed by Tod I picked up a bottle of the recently released Supernova from Ardbeg. It is a no age statement, Committee Release labeled SN2015. A real splurge for me at about $165, yikes. But Ardbeg has a hold on me. I always rated the first Supernova as one of the top three Ardbeg expressions along with Corryvrechan and Uigeadail. So, I had to strike. The color is light gold or deep chardonnay, legs are thin and long The nose is creamy vanilla and malt with a fruity peat The palate enters with a creamy taste and mouth feel with tastes of malt, butter, and vanilla, and then the creamy turns to a burn after fifteen seconds or so, with salt, malt, peat followed by a three minute finish. If you take a swallow of water just prior to a taste of the whisky, the burn does not happen. Strange. I happen to have a few drams of the first release of Supernova, labeled SN2010. Do not ask me how I saved them, do not know. The color is the same, maybe slightly darker The nose is more vanilla than malt, not as creamy. The palate is creamy, but the cream is shorter than the new release. Its all peat, salt with a finish of curry and slight fruit and some citrus. The two are different but similar. Both nice. 
A Slew of New Bottlings New Year, new whiskies to watch for, buy, and try. In addition to Oban Little Bay and Glenmorangie Taghtu, now there's Deanston 18 Year Old Cognac Finished (it'll cost you though, suggested retail is $159), Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach (aged over 10 years, expected price around $80), a new addition to Glenmorangie's Private Edition series called Tùsail (expected to retail around $86 - $90), and last but not least a new bottling of the Black Bottle. And you thought there was nothing new under the sun and this was just another new year! 
1991 Glenkinchie Disterllers Edition, Double Matured, Bottled 2005 This deep gold, long legged 43% ABV dram has a slight smoky, malted cereal nose with some chocolate notes. The taste is very clean, refreshing, with slight lemon notes and sweet maple sherry with a slight burn. Mid-palate is milk chocolate, sweet cereal, and bourbon. The finish is very dry and somewhat short. The double maturing really brings another nuance to the Glenkinchie character. Reviewed by Tod 11/12/11 
Balvenie New Wood 17 Year Old This whisky was transferred from traditional oak casks to new unused charred American oak casks for four months. It is a beautiful bronze/amber in color. There is heavy oak and cinnamon spice on first nosing along with banana and pear. Over time citrus zest (lemon?) and tobacco notes develop. On the palate, the taste has the classic honey, vanilla (from new oak) and spice. There was also a subtle hint of cedar. Midpalate there was heavy oak, butter, and some char. It has a very long, sweet maple and fruit finish. Outstanding overall. One of my very favorites but sadly no longer being produced and hard to find. Review submitted by Mike (3-10-11) 
Balvenie's Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old versus Balvenie's Golden Cask 14 Year Old After having the good fortune of enjoying The Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask 14 Year Old along side the The Balvenie Golden Cask 14 Year Old on an evening with friends, I wondered why each had such a different flavor profile. I have been a huge fan of the Caribbean Cask since its first release. Why then does the Golden Cask (not available in U.S.) tend to kick it up a notch? Here's my tasting notes and my take on the two! The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old (43% abv) The whisky was transferred from traditional barrels to rum barrels to finish. It's amber in color and has sweet toffee, fruit (banana?), and floral tones on nosing. There's vanilla sweetness with molasses evident on the palate along with some citrus and pear in the mid-palate. It has a long, soft, creamy oak finish. The Balvenie Golden Cask 14 Year Old (47.5% abv) Note: Cuban Selection - France. Golden Cask - Duty Free Like its counterpart, the whisky was transferred after 14 years to rum casks to finish. As its name implies it is gold in color. On nosing, it has earthy, grassy notes along with heather and honey. On the palate, there is vanilla sweetness, earth, with malt and cereal grain. Mid-palate there is tangerine/nectarine. Overall, very round and complex. It has a very long, soft, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg finish. So What Gives? Both whiskies are almost first cousins overall. Why the differences? I feel the answer lies in the rum casks. Classically, rum is distilled from the mash of either sugar cane juice or molasses. The French speaking Caribbean area rum nations (i.e., Martinique and Guadeloupe) use sugar cane juice. These rums have a more grassy, earthy, herbal sweetness. The British or Spanish Caribbean rum nations (i.e., Barbados, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic) tend to use molasses. The British style is very sweet, robust, and intense. The Spanish style has a lighter sweetness and is more elegant. But then there's Cuba! I have had the good fortune to try some Cuban rums. Not exactly everyone's cup of tea. They are different. The Ron Edmundo Dantes Gran Reserve 25 Year Old is made from sugar cane as in the French style but processed more in the Spanish style. Hence, a brandy- or cognac-like rum with caramel/vanilla nuttiness. Very earthy, but lighter in style. My Conclusion The Caribbean Cask is an outstanding whisky, especially considering the price. But the Golden Cask has the same Balvenie toffee and honey notes but due to less rum sweetness other whisky notes are allowed to come through (sugar cane vs. molasses). Yellow fruits are more pronounced as are orange fruits. There is a defined earthiness and overall complexity not found in the Caribbean Cask. Most of all there is an elegance and softness I find intoxicating. In the realm of Balvenie's rum finished whiskies - I'll take the Cuban cask. Review submitted by Mike (3-10-11) 
Signatory Benrinnes 1997 Vintage 11 Year Old Cask Strength According to Binny's, this particular bottling of Benrinnes Cask Strength was distilled on 11/25/97, and bottled on 8/21/09. A total of 267 bottles, aged 11 years in Hogshead cask number 93. It was bottled at 59.3% abv, it's great with a little water. It has the taste of scorched chocolate and marshmallow. Like a burnt edge of a Mallo bar or a marshmallow on the way to becoming a s'more. You know like the Girl Scout stuff. Review submitted by Tod 
Ardbeg Corryvreckan If you haven't tried this one yet.....DO SO IMMEDIATELY! If you're an Ardbeg fan this is arguably one of their best expressions. In fact, it's so good it's flying off the shelves so fast that most retailers can't keep it in stock and don't advertise it (FYI, Flick's Liquors in Michigan has four bottles that just came in.). It's Ardbeg on steroids. While the nose misleads you with respect to the peat, your first sip will just explode in your mouth with a richness and sweetness that just perfectly blends with the peat. The nose has subtle hints of fruits (citrus?) and the ever present Ardbeg phenols. On the palate, it has almost a thick mouthfeel to it. Coal, tarry-like peat blend with loads of sweetness and subtle fruit flavors. And as is typical of Ardbeg, the finish goes on forever. Loads of pepper and peat. This is definitely an after dinner/evening drink that will stand up to the strongest cigars. At about $90 a bottle, it's not cheap but it's worth every penny. Buy it now, stock up on it, because you'll be sorry if and when it disappears. Review submitted by David 
Stronachie 12 Year Old Just saw an ad for this in Whisky Magazine. It's a re-creation of a whisky from a silent still. A. D. Rattray commissioned Benriach Distillery to recreate it (Benriach is one of my favorite all time whiskies, but sadly unavailable in distillery bottlings in the U.S.). The description in the ad says"Smooth and spicy with cinnamon and honey and a long sweet finish. I haven't tried it yet but found out that Binny's has it for $59.99 and have a bottle on the way. Received my bottle on 8/5/10 and immediately had to sample it. Rich copper color. Vanilla and toffee nose. Rich and full on the palate with the subtle cinnamon and honey as advertised. Nice long sweet finish. It'll definitely be a regular on my list. Great find! Review submitted by David 
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