Each week, we bring you the latest whisky news on WhiskyCast, but a lot can happen during the week. Now, you can keep up with whisky news as it happens here on WhiskyCast.com!
October 26, 2013 – Kininvie was the “secret distillery” at the William Grant & Sons campus in Dufftown that is home to Glenfiddich and The Balvenie. It existed as a separate stillhouse near the Balvenie’s stillhouse, but shared mash tuns and washbacks with the Balvenie. The stills were also used to produce the Hazelwood-labeled single malts, most notably those honoring the late Janet Sheed Roberts, the last surviving granddaughter of William Grant.
The Kininvie stills ran only as needed to supply malt whisky for blending purposes, and there was officially never any intent to bottle Kininvie as a single malt — until now. This week, what is believed to be the first official bottling of Kininvie went on sale in Taiwan, with an estimated 7,000 bottles (375ml) of the 23-year-old whisky available at a recommended price of NTD$7,000 ($238 USD). Malt Maniac Ho-Cheng Yao reported the release on the Malt Maniacs & Friends Facebook page, along with his tasting notes:
“Brown color, the first impression is the nutty nose with slightly sulfury, obviously the sherry cask influence. The Honey and floral nose is still clear, plus lots spice and grassy nose. The back ground is malty sweet, it is especially clear when taste it, The palate is rounded and mild. Very and probably too easy to drink. Medium light body, yet lingering long. Sweet in palate makes you want to dilute some water, but it actually very drinkable if you taste straight. Very nice vatting and immediately reminds me Master Brian Kinsman’s style.”
In addition, samples of a cask-strength Kininvie were poured earlier this month at WhiskyFest New York during a master class with Brian Kinsman. The 23-year-old Kininvie available in Taiwan likely was distilled during the year Kininvie opened in 1990, and it’s not clear whether William Grant & Sons plans wider releases of Kininvie.
Links: William Grant & Sons
October 26, 2013 – The Macallan’s latest release in its Masters of Photography Series of limited-edition bottlings features legendary photographer Elliott Erwitt’s view of Scotland. Erwitt’s “Great Scottish Adventure” took him around Scotland to make photos of the people (and the dogs, his favorite subjects) that make Scotland unique. His travels included the Highlands and the Islands, along with Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Erwitt is the fourth photographer to be featured in the series, along with Rankin, Albert Watson, and Annie Leibovitz. The Macallan’s whisky maker, Bob Dalgarno, selected 58 single casks for this year’s release. Each cask was paired with one of Erwitt’s original prints, with 35 bottle and print combinations to be available for each cask. The Elliott Erwitt Edition includes a signed and numbered 11″ x 14″ print, along with a book featuring 158 of Erwitt’s images from his Scottish adventure. The book also contains a custom 375ml glass flask filled with the single cask whisky matched to the print. Only 35 sets of each print and whisky combination will be produced, for a total of 2,030 bottles worldwide.
In a news release, Erwitt compared the art of photography and the “decisive moment” to the art of making whisky:
“Photography is an art of observation – it’s about creating something extraordinary out of the ordinary. You choose a frame and then wait until the right time for something magical to come along and fill it. I realized while working on this project that this is exactly the way Bob, the Whisky Maker, works when creating The Macallan. He envisages how he wants a particular whisky to taste, selects the perfect cask to create it, and then he waits! Timing is everything,”
The recommended retail price for the Elliott Erwitt Series package is £1,500 ($2,425 USD).
Links: The Macallan
October 26, 2013 – The Teeling Whiskey Company has applied for planning permission to build a distillery and visitors center in the New Market Square neighborhood of southwest Dublin. The Fountain newswire reports brothers Jack and Stephen Teeling want to convert a warehouse into a distillery capable of producing up to 500,000 litres of spirit each year. The site would also include a visitors center, gift shop, and event space along with offices and laboratory space.
During a June interview on WhiskyCast, Jack Teeling said he hoped to bring his family’s distilling roots back to Dublin, where his ancestors opened a distillery on Marrowbone Lane in 1782. He founded the Teeling Whiskey Company shortly after leaving Cooley, which his family controlled from its founding in 1987 until selling the company to Beam at the end of 2011.
The distillery would be Dublin’s first working distillery since the closings of the Old Jameson Distillery on Bow Street and the Powers Distillery on Johns Lane in 1975 and 1976, when Irish Distillers consolidated most of its distilling at Midleton in County Cork. It is separate from the distillery project being coordinated by their father, John Teeling, to convert the former Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk into a whiskey distillery.
This story will be updated as more details are available.
Links: Teeling Whiskey Company
October 25, 2013 – As Brown-Forman starts work on the $35 million expansion project of its Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, the company has announced plans for an additional expansion this fall.
While the original project will be limited to the distillery’s production side, with additional stills and warehousing capacity, the new project will expand the visitors center on the hill overlooking the distillery. The center will be remodeled to include a dedicated tasting room, replacing the current tasting tables in the center’s common area. There will also be updates to the center’s displays and gift shop, along with expanded catering facilities to handle meetings and other events held at the visitors center.
According to Brown-Forman, around 135,000 people visited Woodford Reserve over the past 12 months. The project will cost approximately $1.6 million, and will be eligible for more than $400,000 in tourism-based tax incentives from the Commonwealth of Kentucky over the next ten years. Work on the project will continue through the winter.
Links: Woodford Reserve
October 25, 2013 – The “Pappy Posse” may be narrowing the search for a suspect in the theft of $26,000 worth of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-year-old Bourbon and 13-year-old Rye whiskies from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton told WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie today that his investigators are following up on “numerous tips” received after surveillance video from a liquor store in Elizabethtown, Kentucky was posted on YouTube.
In the video from October 20, 2013 shortly before 2:00pm, a man wearing what appears to be a Bardstown High School sweatshirt walks into and out of the store. An employee told deputies that the man inquired whether the store would be interested in “a large quantity of Pappy Van Winkle.” Approximately 195 bottles of the 20-year-old Bourbon and 27 bottles of the 13-year-old Rye were taken from a secured warehouse at Buffalo Trace over a period of one to two months. The theft was discovered on October 15 when Buffalo Trace workers were preparing to ship the annual release of Pappy Van Winkle whiskies to regional distributors.
Mark Gillespie’s October 25 interview with Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton
Sheriff Melton is asking anyone with information on the man wanted for questioning or with other tips on the theft to report them via the department’s “Text-a-Tip” line at 502-320-3306 or send a message to investigators through the department’s Facebook page. So far, no reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
Citing the ongoing investigation, both the Van Winkle family and Buffalo Trace executives have declined requests for comment on the theft. Buffalo Trace produces the Van Winkle whiskies under contract for the Van Winkle family. The remaining Pappy Van Winkle 2013 inventory is being shipped to distributors for release.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on November 3, 2013 with additional information. Please click here to read the story.
October 25, 2013 – With longtime Caol Ila distillery manager Billy Stitchell set to retire at the end of the year, Diageo has named David Wood to become the Islay distillery’s new site operations manager when Stitchell steps aside after nearly 40 years at Caol Ila. Wood has been working at nearby Lagavulin Distillery, and is now training with Stitchell to learn Caol Ila’s unique features.
“His background is at Lagavulin, and prior to that in whisky retailing,” Diageo’s Dr. Nick Morgan told WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie in an interview. “Strangely, his career path mirrors that of Georgie Crawford (Lagavulin’s current manager), who also came out of retailing into distilling, so there’s a precedent for that.”
Billy Stitchell is the fourth generation of his family to work at Caol Ila over the years, and the family is being honored with this year’s Caol Ila expression in Diageo’s annual rare malts release, the Caol Ila Unpeated Stitchell Reserve. It’s one of the rare times Diageo has honored an individual distiller or family of distillers on a single malt release.
“We really felt, and by coincidence, not design, it was simply a great opportunity to acknowledge the fact that Billy has been at Caol Ila for almost 40 years,” Morgan said.
“His family have been there for several generations, both at Caol Ila and other distilleries around and about there, and in these days, that’s a pretty unique contribution to the industry. As we look forward, it will probably be an even more unusual occurrence, and I don’t think you can let that pass without acknowledging it, even if it is sort of an exceptional thing for us to do.”
The Stitchell bottling will be available at retailers during November, with a recommended retail price of £70 ($113) for the cask-strength (59.6% ABV) single malt.
Links: Caol Ila
October 21, 2013 – The Dalmore has had many expressions in its permanent range over the years, but is now adding a 25-year-old expression for the first time, though in limited numbers. The Whyte & Mackay-owned distillery will release 3,000 bottles of The Dalmore 25 annually, with a recommended retail price of £600 ($970 USD).
Master Blender Richard Paterson created the new expression using a complex combination of American white oak casks, Palomino Fino Sherry casks, first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels, and Tawny Port pipes from Portugal. In a news release, Paterson explained the influence of the complex combination on the final result:
“The Dalmore 25 is matured in casks that have previously housed a very special grape which creates a sweeter style of sherry. As a result, the cask has gifted a wonderful palate of orange peel, chocolate truffles and spiced gingerbread.”
The Dalmore 25 is being unveiled at this week’s TFWA travel retail conference in Cannes, France. Availability has not been announced, but is likely to start with the travel retail market.
Links: The Dalmore
October 18, 2013 – A one-of-a-kind 1964 Bowmore brought the highest bid of 2013 for whisky auctions worldwide during the Worshipful Company of Distillers charity auction Thursday night in London. The bottling was created specifically for the auction, and went for £61,000 ($98,600 USD). In a news release, the Worshipful Company of Distillers says the Bowmore also became the second-highest priced whisky ever sold at a live auction, as well as the highest-priced Bowmore bottling ever sold at auction.
The group is one of the original livery companies that makes up the City of London, and was founded in 1638. Today, its main function is to raise money for local and industry charities. The auction raised more than £250,000 ($404,000 USD) for four charities: The Benevolent, Trelya, the Alcohol Education Trust and The Distillers’ Charity.
Other lots included a rare four-bottle set of Hazelwood single malts commemorating the 90th, 100th, 105th, and 110th birthdays of the late Janet Sheed Roberts, a granddaughter of William Grant & Sons founder William Grant. The set brought a winning bid of £31,000 ($50,120 USD). Another whisky bottled specially for the auction, The Dalmore 1964 One of One, went for £28,000 ($45,270 USD).
The evening began with a special appearance by legendary Formula One driver Sir Jackie Stewart, who donated a bottle of the 1993 Jim Clark Festival pure malt whisky from his collection and auctioned it for £1,500.
October 18, 2013 – Johnnie Walker has released the third and final edition in its Explorers Club series of travel retail expressions, with The Royal Route now becoming available in duty-free shops globally. The new expression is named after the famed trading routes of Europe and the Middle East, and completes the Trade Routes series in the Explorers’ Club Collection.
In a news release, Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge described the complexity of The Royal Route:
“We sought out only the very finest, beautifully balanced blends that have deep evocative flavours and a character to match. On the nose, there is a vast array of rich fruity flavours including apple, pear, fig and peach. Reflective of the beauty, rarity and exotic nature of the luxury goods that were exchanged on the royal trade route, it has an intense and complex flavour with notes of dried fruit and toffee, handsomely balanced with a subtle woody sweetness and a lingering wispy aromatic smoke. The Royal Route delivers far more depth of character, with richer, multiple layers on the palate.”
The Trade Routes series began in December of 2012 with the release of The Spice Road, and was followed in March with The Gold Route. All three expressions are available in one-liter bottles, with a recommended retail price of $159 for The Royal Route.
In addition, Diageo announced plans to release Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve in the US as a limited edition for the holiday season. The expression has been available in other global markets, but has not been sold in the US while stocks of the original Gold Label 18-year-old expression are being depleted. Gold Label Reserve is blended in a similar style to the original version, but carries no age statement.
Links: Johnnie Walker
October 18, 2013 – Sheriff’s deputies in Frankfort, Kentucky are still looking for clues and suspects in the theft of approximately $26,000 worth of rare Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-year-old Bourbon and 13-year-old Rye whiskey. The theft was reported Tuesday at Buffalo Trace Distillery, where the Van Winkle family’s whiskies are distilled, matured, and bottled under a long-term contract.
Citing the ongoing criminal investigation, both Buffalo Trace executives and the Van Winkle family have declined to comment on the theft in separate emails to WhiskyCast. Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton has told the Louisville Courier-Journal and other local media organizations that he suspects an inside job, with the thieves stealing a case or two at a time over two months. Approximately 65 cases are missing, mostly of the 20-year-old Family Reserve Bourbon, with nine cases of the 13-year-old Rye missing. The Van Winkle whiskies are packaged in three-bottle cases, meaning around 195 bottles were stolen.
Buffalo Trace started bottling Pappy Van Winkle whiskies for the annual autumn release in the late summer, and the cases of whiskey were being stored on pallets in a secured warehouse with limited access. Melton’s investigation is focusing on workers who had access to the warehouse on a regular basis, and he says several tips have been reported to his office. Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department at 502-875-8740.
Buffalo Trace president Mark Brown confirmed in an email to WhiskyCast that distillery tours and the visitors’ center remain open, since the investigation is focusing on a remote area of the distillery that is not open to visitors.
This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.