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!

Master Distillers’ Unity Raises $10K for ALS Research

Master Distillers' Unity, created by Kentucky's Bourbon Master Distillers to raise money for ALS research. Image courtesy Heaven Hill. October 15, 2013 – The two-of-a-kind Master Distillers’ Unity Bourbon created to help raise money for the ALS Association’s “Parker Beam’s Promise of Hope Fund” sold for $10,115 (including bidder’s premium) at Bonhams in New York City during Sunday’s auction of rare whiskies and other spirits. An anonymous bidder won the auction for the two-bottle set, which includes whiskies from seven of Kentucky’s largest Bourbon distilleries and was blended by Heaven Hill Master Distiller Parker Beam.

Beam was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year, and his fellow master distillers at Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve donated whiskies for the bottling, which Parker created with the addition of his own whiskey from the Heaven Hill stockpiles. The result was 12 bottles of Master Distillers’ Unity, 10 of which were poured the day before the auction during WhiskyFest New York for a special toast to Parker. The remaining two bottles are said to be among the rarest Bourbons ever produced.

Heaven Hill’s Shapira family created the Promise of Hope Fund after Parker’s diagnoses, and pledged to raise at least $250,000 for the ALS Association through donations from sales of this year’s Parker’s Heritage Collection “Promise of Hope” Bourbon.

Other rare whiskies bringing high bids during the Bonhams auction included a 1946 Macallan Select Reserve that went for $8,925, a bottle of Old Vatted Glenlivet circa 1862 that sold for $7,735, and a bottle of Aberlour-Glenlivet from President John F. Kennedy’s collection that was given as a gift to a friend that sold for $6,545.

Links: Heaven Hill | Bonhams

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Wemyss Malts Releases 12 Holiday Single Cask Bottlings

The Wemyss Malts October 2013 range of single cask Scotch whiskies. Image courtesy Wemyss Malts.October 14, 2013 – Wemyss Malts is releasing 12 single cask malts for the holidays in the company’s largest release yet. The whiskies come from all five of the major Scotch whisky regions, and were selected by the Wemyss tasting panel under the guidance of veteran whisky writer and consultant Charles MacLean.

The company names its whisky releases according to the taste profile of each cask, and each whisky will be available in the U.K., Europe, and selected Asian markets.

“Toffee Glaze”: 1997 Clynelish (Highlands)
“Brandy Casket”: 1989 Glen Garioch (Highlands)
“A Peaty Punch!”: 1997 Bunnahabhain (Islay)
“Seaweed on the Rocks”: 1991 Bunnahabhain (Islay)
“Merchant’s Mahogany Chest”: 1991 Glen Scotia (Campbeltown)
“Tarte au Citron”: 1998 Auchentoshan (Lowlands)
“Citrus Burst”: 1997 Linkwood (Speyside)
“Liquorice Spiral”: 1992 Glentauchers (Speyside)
“Coconut and Sandalwood”: 1992 Longmorn (Speyside)
“Pastille Bouquet”: 1998 Mortlach (Speyside)
“Sweet Mint Infusion”: 1991 Aultmore (Speyside)
“Eastern Promise”: 1995 Glen Elgin (Speyside)

Recommended pricing for each expression will be between £60 and £105 ($95-170 USD).

Links: Wemyss Malts

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Arran Releases Millennium Casks Single Malt

Arran's Millennium Casks Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Image courtesy Isle of Arran Distillers.October 12, 2013 – Many of Scotland’s distillers marked the end of the last Millennium with special casks filled around the start of the New Year in 2000, and Arran is the latest to bring one of those special projects to market. Arran’s Millennium Casks bottling will be available on October 28, with just 7,800 bottles to be available worldwide.

“We decided to fill some casks on the very last day and then the very first day,” Arran’s Louisa Young said during an interview with WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie at the Whisky Jewbilee in New York City. “This is something where it’s a quite unusual collaboration with the casks and going from one millennium into the next.”

Master Distiller James MacTaggart selected 35 ex-Bourbon casks and 10 ex-Sherry hogsheads filled on the two days for the bottling, which is being released with no chill filtering and at a cask-strength 53.5% ABV.

In addition, Arran will make a donation for each bottle sold to the Arran Trust, which preserves natural habitat on the Isle of Arran. “It’s very much trying to put something back into the community,” Young said. “We’ve done it with regeneration of the footpaths on the island before…hill walking is something very significant and it’s something we believe from the small community that the island has and we being the only distillery, it’s something that is important for us to do.”

Links: Arran | Arran Trust


Planned Fife Distillery Linked to Indian Drinks Distributor

October 13, 2013 – When local regulators in the Fife town of Glenrothes gave planning permission for a new distillery to be built near the Fife airport earlier this year, little more was reported at the time about the project. Now, India’s Business Standard reports the distillery is intended to be the focal point for a new global Scotch whisky brand to be launched by India’s Kyndal Group.

Kyndal is controlled by the Banerji family, which built the company distributing spirits in India, Western Asia, and Africa and currently distributes most of Morrison Bowmore’s Scotch whisky brands in the region. Managing director Siddharth Banerji told the Business Standard that Kyndal intends to launch the brand in that region by the end of 2013 using whisky sourced “from its partners,” but will eventually sell whisky from the Fife distillery when it is available starting in 2018. Kyndal and its local partner, John Fergus & Co, Ltd. will invest most of the £6.7 million ($10.7 million USD) required for the first phase of the distillery project, and have already been approved for approximately £1.8 million in Scottish Government economic development grants.

The new distillery is expected to come on line in 2015. No name has been selected for the project, and we refer to it here as the “Fife distillery” to avoid potential confusion with the Glenrothes Distillery located in the Speyside town of Rothes.

Links: Kyndal Group

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WhistlePig Releases “The Boss Hog” Rye

WhistlePig Rye's "The Boss Hog" single barrel Rye whiskey. Image courtesy WhistlePig Farm. October 12, 2013 – WhistlePig Rye is extending its range of Rye whiskies with “The Boss Hog,” a new single barrel uncut and unfiltered Rye whisky. The initial release comes from 24 casks selected by Master Distiller Dave Pickerell and bottled at WhistlePig Farm in Stoneham, Vermont.

“We’ve always gone after the best tasting Rye available, and this is the best of the best,” Pickerell told WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie during a launch party at The Flatiron Room in New York City. “Whenever we find some truly outstanding WhistlePig, it’s going to go into The Boss Hog.”

“It was a little gutsy putting it into the bottle at 134 proof (67% ABV), but it just gives you the opportunity to play with it like it deserves to really, really, really enjoy the fullness of the Rye.”

Pickerell decided to release the whiskey at barrel strength after experimenting with it by adding a few drops of water at a time. “I put a drop in, and when I did, it peeled back a layer of the spice and it was still interesting, so I put another drop in and it peeled back a little more,” Pickerell said. “I realized I’d been playing with this for half an hour, and I thought if I’m having so much fun with this, everyone else ought to have the ability to have fun with it, too.”

The Boss Hog will be available in limited quantities at whisky specialist shops where WhistlePig Rye is sold at a recommended retail price of $150.

Links: WhistlePig

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William Grant & Sons Releases Rare Girvan Single Grain Bottling

The Girvan Patent Still 25 Year Old Single Grain Scotch Whisky. Image courtesy William Grant & Sons.October 7, 2013 – Single grain Scotch whiskies can often be thought of as the stepchildren of the whisky industry. They’re absolutely essential for the blending process, but often get hidden under the stairwell (to use a Harry Potter analogy) when company comes to visit. Very few ever make it to the market, but can be absolutely wonderful whiskies in their own right.

Bottlings of Girvan single grain whisky from William Grant & Sons’ Girvan distillery on the southwest coast of Scotland are rare, and mainly available through independent bottlers. However, Grant’s has now released what may well be only the second official bottling of Girvan, the Girvan Patent Still Single Grain 25 Year Old Scotch Whisky, and Just-Drinks.com reports that it’s just the beginning for a new line of Girvan single grain bottlings.

The original Girvan patent still (also known as a Coffey still) was installed in 1963 by longtime Grant’s icon Charles Gordon, and the release of this whisky celebrates the distillery’s 50th anniversary. Girvan’s output to this point has been used exclusively for blending purposes by the company, with the exception of a one-off bottling of the first production run from 1964. It is being bottled at 42% ABV, and will be available exclusively through UK whisky specialist retailers starting in November at a suggested retail price of £250 ($400 USD).

In the Just-Drinks.com story, Kevin Abrook of William Grant and Sons acknowledged plans to expand the Girvan range in 2014 with a no-age-statement bottling as well as a 30-year-old version. The company views single grain Scotch whiskies as a natural way for single malt enthusiasts to increase their repertoire, according to the story, and plans to price Girvan’s bottlings at a similar level with their single malt counterparts.

Note: This story was edited on October 9, 2013 to include additional details from the Just-Drinks.com report. 

Links: William Grant & Sons

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Talisker Storm Warning for U.S. Market

October 4, 2013 – Talisker Storm has hit the U.S. market, a year after it was introduced in Europe. The single malt from the Isle of Skye made its U.S. debut Wednesday night at Whisky Live Boston, in a debut that surprised even the brand’s ambassadors on-site.

Talisker Storm is a smokier and peatier version of the standard Talisker expressions, and will be available as a permanent part of the Talisker lineup in the U.S. market. Storm carries no age statement, allowing Master Blender Jim Beveridge access to younger whiskies in the Talisker cask inventory.

Tasting notes will be available soon here at WhiskyCast.com.

Links: Talisker

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Kavalan Whiskies To Reach U.S. Market Soon

The King Car Distillery in Yi-Lan, Taiwan, home of Kavalan Single Malt Whisky. Photo © 2011 by Mark Gillespie.

October 4, 2013 – King Car Distilleries has reached an agreement to export its award-winning Kavalan single malt Taiwanese whiskies to the United States.

The Lee family-owned company will work with San Francisco-based Anchor Distilling to distribute its whiskies in the U.S. market, with an initial launch expected in time for the holidays. King Car’s master distiller and blender, Ian Chang, confirmed the deal in an email to WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie, along with plans to pour his whiskies for the first time in the U.S. at WhiskyFest New York next weekend.

T.T. Lee and his son, Y.T. Lee expanded their family’s food and drinks business to whisky production after Taiwan ended its state monopoly on liquor production when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2002, and the first casks were filled three years later. In 2010, a two-year-old bottling of Kavalan beat three-year-old Scotch whiskies in a taste test organized by the Times of London, and Kavalan’s whiskies have gone on to win numerous awards in international competitions. The name “Kavalan” is derived from the indigenous people who populated the area around Yi-Lan, where the King Car Distillery is located next to the family’s bottled water production plant.

For more on Kavalan’s history, listen to interviews with Ian Chang in Episode 234 and Episode 310 of WhiskyCast, and you can see the distillery in the WhiskyCast HD feature on Kavalan.

Links: Kavalan | Anchor Distilling

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Irish Distillers Expands Paddy Range & Focus

Paddy Irish Whiskey (C) and the two U.S. flavored versions, "Devil's Apple" and "Bee Sting". Image courtesy Irish Distillers. October 1, 2013 – Paddy Flaherty was a legendary Irish Whiskey salesman for the Cork Distilleries Company at the turn of the last century, traveling around Ireland to promote what was then called “Cork Distilleries Company Old Irish Whiskey.” The name was just a bit unwieldy for many pub owners, who just referred to it as “Paddy’s Whiskey” — and the Murphy family took the hint. They renamed it “Paddy” in 1913 in honor of Flaherty. While Paddy’s distribution was limited to Ireland for many years after the Murphys, the Power family, and the Jameson family joined forces to create Irish Distillers in 1966, the brand has been slowly introduced to the U.S. and other export markets.

Now, Paddy is getting new packaging, along with two flavored variants (the first for Irish Distillers). The core expression remains a triple-distilled and triple-blended whiskey with Irish Pot Still whiskey, Irish Grain whiskey, and Irish Single Malt whiskey blended by Master Distiller Billy Leighton. However, the bottle now makes more reference to Paddy as “The Paddy Flaherty Whiskey”, while still retaining the traditional map of Ireland on the front label.

Leighton has created two additional variations on Paddy with honey and apple flavorings. The U.S. and France will be the launch market for both expressions, but will have different names and labels for each market. In the U.S., the apple version will be branded as “Devil’s Apple,” while it will carry the “Spiced Apple” moniker in France. The honey version will be called “Bee’s Sting” in the U.S. and “Irish Honey” in France. Both versions will be available in each country starting this month.

Links: Paddy

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Glenfiddich Drops Age Statements For New Travel Retail Range

October 1, 2013 – Glenfiddich is releasing a new range of three single malts for the travel retail market. The lineup uses Glenfiddich’s Solera-vatting process for all three malts in a dramatic change for the distillery, which has traditionally only used the Solera vats for its 15-year-old expression. The lineup also eschews age statements, in another major change for Glenfiddich.

Glenfiddich Select Cask uses a combination of ex-Bourbon, European Oak, and red wine casks. The Glenfiddich Reserve Cask uses Spanish ex-Sherry casks exclusively, while the Glenfiddich Vintage Cask brings together a combination of European Oak and ex-Bourbon casks with a rare touch of peatiness. All three will be available at 40% ABV.

In a news release, Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman described the reason for skipping age statements with the new range:

“Creating whisky isn’t only about age, it’s about personal taste and flavour, and the Glenfiddich Cask Collection has evolved to give Glenfiddich drinkers the perfect combination of quality, satisfaction and choice. Glenfiddich has a long and illustrious history of innovation within the single malt category and these latest additions to our no-age range allow us to offer single malt aficionados the best of both worlds – whiskies crafted for their flavour, alongside whiskies bottled by their age.”

The Select Cask and Reserve Cask expressions are being rolled out now in travel retail outlets worldwide, while the Vintage Cask will be available in April of 2014.

Links: Glenfiddich

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