Glenglassaugh | Sandend
The little-known coastal single malt of Glenglassaugh has had quite a year in 2023. A full rebrand during the Summer was greeted with much fanfare – a wonderful new distinctive swirling bottle design and brand-new trio of core whiskies were at the heart of this.
The standout of the three new bottlings was Sandend, named after the sweeping crescent Sandend Bay that the distillery sits on. A combination of ex-Oloroso and ex-manzanilla sherry casks, plus ex-bourbon barrels have created a superb whisky – expect notes of honey, vanilla and sultana married with hints of tropical fruits and cooked pear.
Glenmorangie | A Tale of Tokyo
Each Autumn the whisky world eagerly anticipates the release of the latest Tales bottling from the famous north Highland distillery of Glenmorangie. Every year the brand’s creative genius, Dr. Bill Lumsden, pushes the spirit in different (and often quirky) directions.
For this year’s entry into the series the first ever Glenmorangie single malt matured in Japanese mizunara oak casks was combined with more traditional ex-bourbon and ex-sherry cask matured whiskies. The result is A Tale of Tokyo. A stunning mix of chocolate, vanilla and malted biscuit notes mingle with incense, caramel, and orange.
Glenturret | 35 years old
The Summer presented one of the highlights of the whisky year – the release of Glenturret 35 years old. The Highland distillery, which is the oldest in operation in Scotland and dates to 1775, is small and remains one of the few to be hand operated in the traditional way.
This 35-year-old has come from a single European oak ex-Oloroso sherry butt that was filled in 1988. The marriage of characteristics generated during this lengthy maturation is exquisite. Expect decadent notes of caramel, golden syrup and mango combined with cedarwood, gingerbread and antique furniture polish.
Inchdairnie | Ryelaw
Amidst the many traditional releases from well-established single malt distilleries were a few ground-breaking gems. The Fife distillery of Inchdairnie’s inaugural release was one of them. By legal definition Ryelaw is a grain whisky, but it is really one of Scotland’s first ever ryes.
A mash bill combining 53% rye and 47% malted barley has created a creamy and fruity spirit with a peppery kick. Add in five years maturing in charred virgin American oak casks and the result is delicious – think of vanilla fudge, marshmallow and orange fondant icing mixed with sandalwood, toffee apple and a pinch of cinnamon.
Lochlea | Fallow Season (2nd Crop)
The Lowland distillery of Lochlea is one of only two in Scotland that is truly farm-to-bottle. Every grain of barley used at the distillery is grown on Lochlea Farm, which was once owned and worked by the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.
This second edition of Fallow Season enhances Lochlea’s reputation as one of the best new craft distilleries in Scotland. It is the first bottling to feature 100% ex-sherry cask maturation and is richer and bolder than previous releases as a result. Notes of raisin, sultana and dates combine superbly with those of Cognac-soaked prunes, dark chocolate, and treacle tart.
Old Pulteney | Port
Way up in the north Highlands sits the fishing port of Wick, the home of Old Pulteney. The distillery often plays on its maritime roots, and many say you can taste the salty sea air in their whisky. This Autumn release is no different and forms part of their Coastal Series.
The whisky was initially matured in ex-bourbon barrels before a lengthy secondary period maturing in two different ex-Ruby Port casks – 230-litre barriques and 550-litre pipes. Salted caramel, red cherry and crème brulée notes sit alongside those of sultana, hazelnut praline and earthy baking spices. This is one sumptuous and bold single malt.
Roseisle | 12 years old: The Origami Kite
The Roseisle distillery in Speyside is modern and huge, yet few have heard of it. Prior to this bottling, which formed part of owner Diageo’s annual Special Releases series, nothing had been officially released either. The reason – everything is made for use in blends.
As a result, this single malt was highly anticipated. People love to try the inaugural whisky from a distillery to gauge the quality and character. Full maturation in ex-bourbon casks gave an elegant and uplifting whisky full of apple crumble, vanilla, and honeycomb notes. Add in some delicate fresh cut grass and cinnamon, and you have a winner.
Tobermory | 25 years old
On the Hebridean island of Mull is the town of Tobermory. Its distillery is old and dates to 1798. It has had a somewhat chequered past with several periods of closure and inactivity. The whisky featured here was distilled in the late-1990s after one such period.
Initial maturation was in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, before a nine-year secondary maturation in first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry casks from the famous Gonzalez Byass bodega in Jerez, Spain. The result is a belter of a whisky – think of chocolate, honeycomb and plum jam married with caramel, toasted Brazil nuts, and candied orange peel.