Each week, we bring you the latest whisky news on WhiskyCast. Now, we’ll be bringing it to you as it happens here on our News Updates page!
May 16, 2013 – Canada’s award-winning Forty Creek Distillery traditionally announces its annual limited edition release each May, and John Hall’s latest special whisky was unveiled in time for this year’s Spirit of Toronto Festival. “Heart of Gold” will go on sale officially in Ontario at the distillery’s release weekend September 28-29 in Grimsby, Ontario for those who pre-order one of the 9,000 numbered bottles that will be available. Online reservations will be taken starting May 27 at the Forty Creek web site through June 21.
As John Hall told us in Episode 424 of WhiskyCast, Heart of Gold’s name refers to his decision to take a narrower band of the “heart” during the distillation runs for a spirit that holds the rye character while retaining more delicate notes as well. He used a yeast strain normally used for wines in the fermentation process to bring out the delicate floral and herbal notes he was seeking in the whisky.
Heart of Gold will be available at retailers in all Canadian provinces shortly after the release weekend, and a limited number of bottles will be available in several U.S. states as well.
May 15, 2013 – Chivas Brothers is releasing a special edition of its Ballantine’s 17-year-old blended Scotch with a recipe that highlights the contributions of the company’s Miltonduff Distillery to the blend.
It’s the third release in the Signature Distillery Series, and honors the distillery built in 1824 in the Speyside town of Miltonduff. In a news release, Chivas Brothers described the malt whisky from Miltonduff as forming the foundation of Ballantine’s 17, with cinnamon notes that add warmth to the blend and a floral character that balances the fruity notes from the other fingerprint malts used in the blend.
Previous releases in the series honored Scapa and Glenburgie distilleries, and there have been indications in the past that a future release would honor Glentauchers Distillery.
The Miltonduff Signature Distillery Edition will be available in limited quantities, with a focus on the Asian travel retail market, and carry a suggested retail price of $75 USD.
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May 14, 2013 – Chivas Brothers and William Grant & Sons whiskies took top honors in the annual Spirit of Speyside Festival Whisky Awards. Both companies accounted for all six finalists that competed in the knockout round at Knockando Distillery on May 5. The finalists were decided earlier this year in a preliminary competition at the Knockomie Hotel, and the final voting was done by festival attendees at a series of tastings around the Speyside region during the week-long festival.
In the category for single malts 12 years and younger, voters picked the Aberlour A’bunadh over the Strathisla 12-year-old in a battle between two Chivas Brothers whiskies. In the competition for whiskies between 13 and 20 years old, The Balvenie 17 defeated the 15-year-old Distillery Edition from sister distillery Glenfiddich by just 9 votes. Two Glenlivet expressions competed as finalists for the 21-and-older title, with the Glenlivet XXV beating the Glenlivet 21 by just two votes.
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May 13, 2013 – 35 Maple Street, the California-based spirits company with ties to the Sebastiani wine family, is developing a new Tennessee Bourbon brand that will make its debut late in 2013 or during 2014. 35 Maple Street’s success has come from Masterson’s Rye, a Canadian whisky produced at an Alberta distillery and bottled by 35 Maple Street, and the company is hoping to repeat that success with Bib & Tucker Bourbon.
“A bib and tucker, in the Western days, was your Sunday finest clothing,” Richard Zeller of 35 Maple Street told WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie Saturday (May 11) at the Spirit of Toronto whisky festival. “It’s going to be in an amber cartouche glass, and we’re sourcing the amber glass…it’s not going to be a painted bottle – it’s going to be a real special mold…it’s be really a work of art.” Issues in sourcing the bottles are the reason for the uncertain release date, and Zeller indicates that Bib & Tucker could be released by the end of this year if the bottles can be produced in time.
“The Bourbon is a work of art,” Zeller said without disclosing which Tennessee distillery will be supplying the 8-year-old whiskey. “I’ve been sworn, unfortunately, to secrecy…I’m sure you can imagine, but I can’t tell you.” However, there are only three Tennessee distilleries capable of supplying 8-year-old Bourbon whiskey: Jack Daniel’s in Lynchburg, George Dickel in Tullahoma, and Prichard’s in Kelso. None of the three will admit to offering bulk whiskey for sale, and in fact, George Dickel has faced shortages for its whiskey in recent years and currently sources its George Dickel Rye from MGP-I in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Purists will note that the term “Tennessee Bourbon” may seem to be an oxymoron. However, it should be noted that Tennessee Whiskeys traditionally meet all of the U.S. requirements for Bourbon, and the use of the “Lincoln County” charcoal-filtering process does not preclude a whiskey from being labeled as a “Bourbon”. Tennessee legislators are considering a proposal that would require any whiskey labeled as “Tennessee Whiskey” or “Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey” to meet the federal standards for Bourbon and use charcoal filtering.
35 Maple Street will also be expanding its Masterson’s line later this year with the addition of a 12-year-old 100% wheat whisky and a 100% barley whisky. Both will come from the same Alberta distillery where Masterson’s Rye is produced. While Zeller has not confirmed the name of that distillery, it’s believed to be Highwood Distillers in Calgary. Zeller also confirmed that the company is moving forward with plans to build its own distillery, most likely in California. However, that facility would be used for different products and both Masterson’s and Bib & Tucker would be sourced from their current suppliers on a long-term basis.
May 13, 2013 – Sweden’s Mackmyra Distillery has released the 10th and final single malt in its “Specials” series of limited-edition whiskies. Special #10 is a coffee-influenced whisky created by Mackmyra’s master blender, Angela Forsgren D’Orazio, that had its genesis in a whisky liqueur she created last year.
“I was playing with some freshly roasted coffee beans, espresso coffee beans. I was throwing them into whisky, and I just realized that was a very good harmony, the coffee and the whisky together,” she told WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie Saturday (May 11) in Toronto. “I did some coffee whisky with the espresso beans, and then I took that coffee whisky — that was simple, it was just macerating the coffee beans in some very good mature whisky for some hours…I took out the beans and took that coffee whisky and seasoned some casks with it for a couple of weeks.”
Those casks were then used to finish the whisky for Special #10, while the coffee-infused whisky went into Mackmyra’s liqueur. Special #10 will be available in Sweden and most of Mackmyra’s export markets.
May 9, 2013 – University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has had a pretty good year…so far. His Cardinals won the NCAA men’s basketball tournament last month, and he was named to this year’s class of inductees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Now, he’ll be featured on a Maker’s Mark Bourbon bottle…for the second time. Pitino first appeared on a Maker’s Mark bottle in 2002 as part of an annual series of bottles sold to raise money for the Boy Scouts.
Pitino’s 2013 bottle will list his achievements over the years, including his second NCAA championship (his first was at the University of Kentucky in 1996). The bottle design has not been unveiled officially, but has been approved by the Treasury Department’s Tax & Trade Bureau.
While the details have not been announced, 12,600 Pitino bottles will be available. Proceeds from the sales will go to the University of Louisville’s proposed Academic Center for Excellence, which will provide support services for the University’s student-athletes. Maker’s Mark has pledged $500,000 toward the center, which will be built at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. This is the second of three bottles that will benefit the center, with Louisville football coach Charlie Strong being featured on the first bottle. No plans have been announced for the third bottle in the series.