Glenmorangie Bacalta

At the start of every year, we all sit down with our calendar and enter all of our annual events and occasions: The public holidays.  Your partner’s birthday.  Your dentist appointment.  Your wedding anniversary.  The release of the next Glenmorangie Private Edition bottling.

Glenmorangie’s Private Edition range is a special once-off release that comes out each year to showcase a new variation of the Glenmorangie flavour profile.   Through the use of different casks or wood regimes during maturation, or by using different varieties of barley (or different peating levels), the usual Glenmorangie DNA is given a tweak and a nudge to explore new and – without fail – delicious flavour territories.  Some  within Glenmorangie (including Dr Bill Lumsden himself) have hinted or suggested that the Private Edition range showcases experimentation but, to my palate, the results are consistently too successful and too good to be mere experiments.  No, this is a product line that knows what it’s doing.  And for those who are curious, in terms of volume, the Private Edition range makes up less than 1% of Glenmorangie’s total annual production, so it is genuinely a very limited product.

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Bringing balance to the foreshots

A joint essay & publication by Matthew Fergusson-Stewart of Whisky Molecules, and Andrew Derbidge of Whisky & Wisdom.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, your two correspondents were co-hosting a tasting event together and explaining the distillation process to the audience, going into detail about the fractioning – better known as the foreshots, middle cut, and feints.  We explained that the foreshots was heavy in methanols and other undesirable elements, which everyone was happy to accept.  We also explained how the foreshots and feints are never wasted, but are mixed back in with the next batch of low wines, and the process continues repeatedly. Everyone was happy to accept that, too.  Well, almost everyone.  One chap sitting near the front objected: “If the foreshots keep being recycled and mixed back in, won’t you get a continually increasing build-up of methanol in the spirit?”   Ummmm……

It’s a vexing question that’s since been posed to us both many times.  What do they do with the methanol and where does it go?

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Ardbeg and the new 21yo

Ardbeg. That wonderful Islay distillery with a cult following so devoted, over 120,000 fans from over 130 countries have pledged their allegiance to ensure the distillery never closes its doors again.  Again?  Yes, Ardbeg has quite a tale to tell…

Ardbeg has a weight, a brand, a persona, that is bigger than itself. It has a reputation for huge, bold, peaty whiskies, and its name travels so far and with such reverence that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s the biggest distillery on Islay.  In truth, it’s actually the second smallest!  With just one pair of stills churning away, its potential annual production capacity is just a trickle over 1.1 million litres.

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The pioneers of Australia’s malt whisky appreciation community

“The whisky appreciation scene and the whisky enthusiasts’ community is booming.”

Captain Obvious, 2016.

For anyone who’s climbed aboard the hurtling whisky juggernaut in the last three or four years, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was always this way.  Here, in Australia, we have brand ambassadors flying around the country and presenting whiskies to established fan bases and new audiences.  We have multiple whisky bars operating in the capital cities and out in the suburbs.  We have countless whisky clubs that meet regularly.  We have online whisky clubs and groups that exist in various Facebook spheres.  We have a selection of 40 to 50 different whiskies to choose from in the supermarket chain retailers.  We have online whisky stores that ship the latest and greatest releases to your doorstep.  We have whisky expos in each of the capital cities.  We have distilleries opening up or establishing all across the country.   I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  We ain’t never had it this good before.

But it wasn’t always this way.   Hard as it might seem to believe, there was a time when life for the Australian whisky enthusiast was the polar opposite.   Imagine being a whisky fan in the mid-1970’s when less than a handful of single malt brands were available.  Imagine going into a bottle shop in the late 1990’s and having a selection of no more than six different bottlings to select from.      Imagine no whisky bars.   Imagine no online whisky resources or communications.  In fact, imagine no internet.

It was in those seemingly primitive times that the first pioneers and members of the whisky enthusiasts’ community of Australia set out trying to (a) source malt whisky, (b) share their enthusiasm with other people, and (c) gather together a community of like-minded souls around them.

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Ardbeg Dark Cove & Ardbeg Day 2016

Ardbeg Day is just around the corner again, which means it’s time to shake off the Autumn blues (or dust off your Spring hat if you’re in the northern hemisphere) and gear up for all the fun and excitement of Ardbeggian delights.

I’ve written much about Ardbeg’s history, the Ardbeg Committee and Ardbeg Day in the past.  So rather than fill up space by repeating it all on this page, you can re-visit those pieces here (Ardbeg Day 2015 report), here (Perpetuum review) and here (Ardbeg Day 2014 & Auriverdes review) if you need to fill in any blanks.   For the purposes of a concise read, let’s cut straight to the chase and get stuck into Ardbeg Day and the annual release for 2016.  If you’re here just to read the review on the Dark Cove release, scroll further down.

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Glenmorangie Milsean

If there’s one thing you can say about the whisky scene right now, it’s never dull or boring. Each week there is a new release, or a new launch, or another event, or another tasting, or yet another whisky being sold for an outrageous price.   So, regardless of where you fit into the whisky audience, there’s always something to keep an eye out for.

In the rapid-fire and seemingly peak randomness of the above happenings, it’s nice to know that we can at least look forward to some annual constants.  Things like an annual whisky show.  (Whisky Show, Whisky Fair, Whisky Live, etc).   Things like a brand’s big annual celebration.  (Ardbeg Day).  And, for our tastebuds, things like an annual release – such as Glenmorangie’s annual release of their latest Private Edition offering.

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Ardbeg Day, 2015

Ardbeg Day continues to grow and build momentum each year, and on a truly global scale.  It is now one of the highlights of the whisky calendar, and the main events that get held around the planet are spectacular occasions.

Each Ardbeg Day has a theme, and this year’s was an entertaining mix of both retro and futuristic.  2015 marks Ardbeg’s 200th anniversary, and it was therefore fitting that we mark the past and acknowledge the distillery’s long and colourful history.  But the modern Ardbeg brand has never been one to look backwards, and so a glimpse of the future was also very much at the core of this year’s theme and this year’s festivities.

And so it was that the good folks at Ardbeg took over and transformed the International Cruise Terminal at White Bay on Sydney Harbour.   Walking in to the venue, one was instantly captivated by the set up – sharp, clean, sleek, and with some fantastic attractions and activities around the place to both amuse and entertain.  And, of course, to renew acquaintances with Shortie the Ardbeg dog!

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