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Thursday, September 25, 2014

NOT Single Malt Report: Blue Hanger (7th Release) Blended Malt

In 2013, the vatted malt named after the Third Lord Coleraine's attire preferences materialized on American liquor retailer shelves in its septenary edition.  In the previous (sixth) release, Doug McIvor and BB&R started to dabble in adding peat to Blue Hanger's recipe by including two Bowmore hogsheads.  Then in the seventh release, they upped the peat's intensity by adding very young peated malt from Bunnahabhain.  The size of the release was also expanded to 3,088 bottles.  And though it was again given no age statement, the cask specifics were detailed in its press release one full year ago...

Bruichladdich 1992 hogshead
Miltonduff 1997 hogshead
Miltonduff 1997 hogshead
Miltonduff 1997 hogshead
Miltonduff 1997 hogshead
Bunnahabhain 1990 sherry butt
Bunnahabhain Moine (peated) 2006 hogshead
Bunnahabhain Moine (peated) 2006 hogshead

Thank you to Eric S. for this sample!

Company: Berry Bros. & Rudd
Brand: Blue Hanger
Type: Blended Malt (formerly known as Vatted Malt)
Edition: 7th Release
Bottled: 2013
Ingredients and Age: See notes above
Alcohol by Volume: 45.6%
Limited release: 3,088 bottles

The color is medium gold.  The nose begins with peated dark chocolate and rubber bands.  This is followed by subtle sherry, tennis balls, jasmine flowers, toffee pudding, and vanilla extract.  The peat is intensely grimy at first, though it mellows with time, becoming more mossy and vegetal.  A nice pop of anise also shows up, alongside cardamom, and little sulphur.  A dense ashy peat jumps out in the palate; creating the feeling of a bunch of cigarette butts in the mouth.  It takes a moment before the sherry-ish dried fruits roll in.  Grape jelly.  Currants in dark chocolate.  It's never over-sweet and the bitterness never takes over.  The finish has a decent balance between sherry and ash.  Bitter cocoa, vanilla, and cigarette mouth.

This is a much different creature than the fifth release.  The choice of very young peated malt is a brave one.  Those two casks make the entire whisky feel much younger than the age carried by the other six casks.  I like the grimy peat, though it overwhelms the rest at times.  Once the whisky is aired out, the good sherry butt shines and the blend eases into a single unit.  It's comparable to Laphroaig Triple Wood.  They're not the same, but BH7 reminded me of Triple Wood quite a bit and the quality is very close.  Keep in mind that the Hanger is much scarcer, bottled by a smaller company, and 50% more expensive.

Availability - Still can be found at many specialty retailers
Pricing - $85-$90 in Minnesota (wuh?), $100-$120 in the rest of the states
Rating - 86