Tuesday 4 March 2014

This Week in Whisk(e)y #6

As you might know if you read this blog regularly, we get a fair few interesting press releases and news articles here at TimeforWhisky, and usually try to feature them with our own spin, experiences or comments. Sometimes though, they come thick and fast, and we just don't have time to do them all justice.

So we've decided to take a leaf out of some other excellent whisky blogs, and feature a "PR roundup" every now and then - basically a wrap-up of relevant press releases we've received in the previous week. So on with it then...

It's single malt, but not as you know it - Woodford Reserve release "Classic Malt" and "Straight Malt"
We've featured Woodford Reserve's "Master's Collection" on the site before, but for those unfamiliar with the series, it's basically Woodford's annual opportunity to go a little crazy. Different finishes, different casks, four wood aging, and a few interesting ryes are a few examples of recent releases, but for this year (late 2013 in the States - we're a little behind) they've gone one step further with the release of two single malt whiskeys, and I hear through the grapevine we'll see them in Australia later in the year (and maybe earlier than that at the odd tasting).

The two releases are "Classic Malt" and "Straight Malt", both made from 100% barley, but differing by the types of cask used for aging - the Straight Malt in virgin oak (in the same way Bourbon is aged), the Classic Malt in used Bourbon barrels (in the same way a lot of Scotch whisky is aged). With both sitting at 45.2% ABV (continuing Woodford's trend of having all their whiskies end in 0.2% ABV), these should be interesting to compare. We can't wait.

The Wild Rover's "Campbell Cove Whiskey Collective"
Launched last week, we mentioned that The Wild Rover's "Campbell Corner Whiskey Co-Operative" (CCWC) included a list of 50 whiskies for members to work their way through before "unlocking" a selection of special drams. James from The Wild Rover has been kind enough to send through the full listing, and to be honest, it's a pretty fantastic list. With a good split between Irish and Scotch whiskies, and a few North American, Japanese and Aussies thrown in, it has something for everyone. Prices are reasonable too, considering the quality of the drams, with only 8 of the 50 above $20, and plenty for around $11-$14. We've linked the full listing below, but to call out a few of the more interesting ones:
  • Ardbeg Supernova ($24)
  • Connemara Cask Strength ($12)
  • Longrow 1997 14yo Burgundy Wood ($14); and
  • Van Winke 10yo ($22)
The current full listing can be found at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B53LQq_J9E22QW9GX1BiZnJ1amM/edit?usp=sharing

NZ Whisky receives 95 points from Jim Murray
I've voiced my thoughts on Jim Murray on this site before (in summary, I respect what he does but think people place too much emphasis on his ratings, considering he's only one man), but regardless, the man has tasted more whisky than the majority of us, and people keep buying his annual book release, so I guess his opinions are still highly regarded.

One of his views that I agree with, it seems, is that the NZ Whisky Company 21yo "South Island Single Malt" is a damn good whisky. I considered it the equal best when tasting 10 of their releases back in 2013, and Jim has given it 95 points in his 2014 Whisky Bible.

To quote the NZ Whisky Company press release:
"In a great start to 2014 for the New Zealand Whisky Company, Jim Murray’s latest edition hot off the press in London, sees the South Island Single Malt 21 y.o. scored at 95 points, placing it in the highly coveted category. This is the first time ever that a New Zealand whisky has scored so high and been anointed ‘Liquid Gold’. 
“This is a salute to the craftsmanship of the Dunedin distillers,” says company CEO Greg Ramsay. “Being recognised as one of the world’s great whiskies by Jim Murray, that’s the ultimate endorsement of your dram and all the Dunedin distillers like Cyril Yates can be proud that what they were doing in the 80s and 90s in New Zealand, was every bit as good as what the Scots were doing over in Speyside and on Islay.” 
The South Island Single Malt is the company’s flagship single malt, aged for 21 years in American Oak, ex-bourbon barrels. According to Murray’s latest bible, “you would be forgiven for thinking this was a 30 or even 35-year-old Speysider; almost a grassy maltiness melding into the light, exotic fruit and freshly chopped celery. Clean, delicate and elegant beyond words. 
If someone asked me how I would like my 21-year-old non-peated malt to come to me, it would probably be something like this: a top of the range 40-year-old. Proof that the country in which a whisky is made is totally irrelevant. Great whisky is great whisky.”
The whisky is now exported from Oamaru and available across Canada, the UK, Australia and Europe."

Until next time...sláinte.

 - Martin.

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