Three of our favourite new whiskies for Winter
What better way to welcome in the winter than with a new bottle of Scotch? Here are three of our favourites to top up your decanter.
The first thing to say is, yes, we know it’s only autumn. But come on, with the clocks going back, Halloween and Bonfire Night upon us, and the nights not so much drawing in as enveloping us in a cloak of chilly darkness, we’re all starting to plan for extended evenings hunkering down at home. And what better accompaniment for such activity than a warming glass of Scotch? Cue three newly released bottles to whet your appetite…
We all know that the key constituents of a whisky’s flavour are dictated by the cask in which it is matured. And recent years have seen ever more innovative cask sourcing in a bid to harness ever more complex taste profiles. In particular, Japanese mizunara oak has become somewhat fashionable with distillers (and not just for whisky – Courvoisier released a special-edition brandy aged in mizunara a couple of years ago).
Mizunara is native to Japan, and was traditionally used to age the country’s own whisky, particularly after the Second World War when imports of American oak were limited. The trouble is, the trees take 200 years to mature and don’t tend to grow very straight, while the wood itself is lighter and more delicate than traditional oak, making it harder to craft into watertight barrels. Consequently, supply is scarce.
Despite these challenges, mizunara’s higher levels of vanillin compounds, together with the spicy, smoky tones that it imparts upon whisky, make it attractive to certain distillers. And now the ever restless, experimental Glenmorangie has turned to the oak for a new addition to its already broad range. Its A Tale of Tokyo bottling sees a limited amount of Glenmo’s classically light, floral whisky aged in mizunara and then blended with scotch matured in more traditional bourbon and sherry casks for a final liquid that offers almost as many sensory contrasts as the Japanese capital itself.
Rather than focus on the casks, The Dalmore is shining a spotlight on the actual age of the whisky in two new releases from its Vintage Collection. Each autumn, the distillery’s whisky makers conduct a thorough overview of all the barrels ageing in the warehouses that sit on the banks of the Cromarty Firth, just north of Inverness. Occasionally they find whisky worthy of a ‘vintage’ release, and this year they have deemed The Dalmore Vintage 2005 and The Dalmore Vintage 2008 to be of the required standard.
The 2008, in effect a 15-year-old, has been aged in mixture of former pedro ximénez sherry and US bourbon casks. It showcases the classic Dalmore chocolate-orange taste profile, but with added depth in the form of caramel, honey and pepper notes, with a little touch of cinnamon and soaked sultanas adding a seasonal flourish in the form of Christmas cake spice.
Finally, for those who prefer their Scotch peaty and smoky style, and are looking for something a bit special this winter, Orkney-based Highland Park has unveiled its new Single Cask #4627 18-Year-Old London Edition as part of its limited-edition Single Cask Series.
Expect rich aromas of vanilla sponge, oak and nutmeg with light peat tones, while the palate mixes pears and peat, finishing with a lingering sweet spice and woody character. Now, let’s get that fire started…
Glenmorangie: A Tale of Tokyo
Dalmore Vintage 2008
Highland Park 18 Year Old London Edition
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