New Whiskies

Batch 32

by
Batch 32 whiskies.

A Craigellachie duo delight Dave Broom with their complexity and meatiness, while a Springbank local barley bottling, Wolfburn's inaugural release, the first in a new series for Macallan and a blended malt from Shetland Reel bring up the rear.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Craigellachie 31 Years Old

    Score 9.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Craigellachie 31 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Silky and sophisticated with the alcohol giving lift rather than burn. A fabulously mature and elegant nose of apricot, guava and mango backed by dazzling sweet spices. There’s a touch of cream and a lift of nectarine-like acidity. In time it deepens into vetiver, and amber. With water there’s a reminiscence of an old leather schoolbag and thick honey. Hugely impressive.

    Palate

    As is often the case, such a huge nose leads to a slightly shy palate which needs time to open and for you to concentrate on. It’s more pollen-like, sweet and lightly oaked with a dense quality that brings to mind Jamaican pineapple rum. A real physicality.

    Finish

    Long, slighty oily.

    Conclusion

    It’s like some of the very old BenRiachs but with a richer and heavier mid-palate. A great whisky, but sadly it will cost you a pretty packet.

    Right place, right time

    A gentleman pauses on a bench in Green Park, opens his briefcase and withdraws a mango.  

    Craigellachie 20 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 8.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Craigellachie 20 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    We start in the gun room, but move quickly towards the kitchens where aromas of turmeric, garam masala, and lamb rogan josh lean out from under the door. This flies off as that very Craig lift of fruit and blossom takes charge alongside a (pleasant) sulphury lift. Underneath all of this is a feral, wild undertow. Water brings out more fireworks.

    Palate

    A thick start, with good attack and central poise. It’s more on the earthy side of things with light grip and then exotic fruits. Palate-coating, then space dust, then the oily, dense, almost meaty distillery character.

    Finish

    Fruits begin to break through.

    Conclusion

    The funkiest and meatiest of a remarkable duo. 

    Right place, right time

    Eating curry around a campfire. Red eyes gleam in the woods around us.  

    Springbank 16 Years Old Local Barley

    Score 8.0/10
    Scoring explained >
    Springbank 16 Years Old Local Barley
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Campbeltown
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Initially, a fresh, sweet barley loft aroma greets you before there’s a teasing note of woodsmoke, shoreline brininess, and a touch of sweet turned earth. More citric elements begin to build – lemon biscuits. With water, things become ever more lifted – freesia, candelwax and new plimsolls. The smoke recedes.

    Palate

    Softer than the nose, seductive and silkily slithery on the tongue, deepening in the mid-palate where there’s some sweet cereal and then a little prickle, indicating the smoky fuse has been lit. It needs water to soften and also lengthen. Dilution also retains sweetness and allows it to clings even more closely to the tongue, like a child cuddling its teddy bear. All the way it has understated, but real, Springbank power.

    Finish

    Dry, smoked, slightly earthy.

    Conclusion

    Distilled from barley grown at Low Machrimore farm in Southend, this is the first of five years'-worth of releases from this legendary bottling. Brora lovers will also rave about this – as should you all.

    Right place, right time

    Running in your new sannies* towards your grannie’s house at ploughing time.

    * sandshoes

    Macallan Edition No 1

    Score 8.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Macallan Edition No 1
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Big, sweet and quite ‘old-style’ Macallan with a really resinous opening followed by some zested Seville orange, pink grapefruit, the sweet stickiness of a freshly opened box of dates, then some chocolate. There’s deep oakiness, but it’s not woody; rather it achieves a balance with the already rich distillate. A drop of water moves things into dubbin, varnish, figs, and cold Lady Grey tea.

    Palate

    An immediate, hefty retronasal hit of fig and dried fruit with lots of Old English marmalade then into clove and melting dark chocolate before a touch of pigskin leather. Very supple tannins. Has depth, but also sweetness. Water lightens and lifts, but allows the oils to coat the mouth. Touch of chocolate bitters on the back palate.

    Finish

    Maybe just a little short. Smoked pimenton dulce.

    Conclusion

    Approachable, but built on classical lines. A really good Macallan, made from one American, and six European oak casks of different sizes, fills (six are first fill), and from different coopers.  

    Right place, right time

    Sitting in Aquarium – the bar inside Dunhill’s store in Ginza.

    Shetland Reel Blended Malt

    Score 7.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Shetland Reel Blended Malt
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    47%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Quite a thick start with a little hint of cigarette smoke, new wellies, heavily buttered tea loaf, dried curry leaves, Hob Nobs dunked in milky tea and daffodils. Water makes things more farmyard-like, with baling twine and linseed oil. Aye, a lot going on. 

    Palate

    Sweet start, in fact boiled sweets to start, then a lash of leather, tinned prunes, Assam tea and spice. All well balanced and quite rich, especially on the mid-palate where there’s some nutty sherry notes kicking in. It loses that dense quality with water but it does help to pull out light smoke and the charming reassuring smell of old sofas.

    Finish

    Dry and quite firm. 

    Conclusion

    It’s bottled in Shetland but not distilled there. Well made and worth a look. 

    Right place, right time

    Playing cricket in Lerwick, wellies on, bat oiled, tea being made in the clubhouse trying not to think of Shane Warne.

     

    Wolfburn

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Wolfburn
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Light and soft with poached pear and a hint of clove and vanilla, then some smoky wood/ burnt bannocks. Becomes more scented, with elements of privet and cherry blossom, then lemon balm and a huge hit of fresh mint. Becomes increasingly like a quality reposado Tequila which is no bad thing in my world. 

    Palate

    Well balanced. A peppery start – there’s that reposado again. Sweet, softly fruited, but feisty, and even at 46% it needs water. This reveals the youth, but the spirit is clean and characterful, soft and slightly unctuous and showing good weight, which will allow it to grow.

    Finish

    Medium length. Lightly smoky.

    Conclusion

    Aged in quarter casks (from an Islay distillery) to give a quick boost to a young spirit. I’ve been impressed with Wolfburn’s quality from the word go and this doesn’t disappoint. One to watch. The score reflects its competitive set. 

    Right place, right time

    Lost in a Mexican herb garden.

     

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