...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Malty Ramblings

Well, after reviewing the fancy shmantzy whisky this week, I've decided to do a Taste Off of a pair of whiskys-for-the-rest-of-us.  By that I mean they cost 1/9th of the birthday whiskys, but are still single malts.  What could they be......?

Frankly it hasn't been neat whisky drinking weather here.  The temperature has been 90+ almost every day for the last two weeks.  That weather looks to continue for a little while longer, as will the weird humidity that has settled in.  Time to bust out the highballs.  <--- Wow, that just looks wrong.

On Wednesday, Diageo announced their 2012 Special Releases.  (Oh wait, I thought they "do not make single malts for the aficionado to enjoy.")  For all my rants against Diageo, I actually do look forward to this announcement each year.

Here's the info summarized from their press release (via whiskyintelligence.com) --

Auchroisk 30yr 1982 - American & European Oak - 2,976 bottles - £230 (approx $370)
Brora 35yr 1976&1977 - American Oak - 1,566 bottles - £400 (approx $640)
Caol Ila 14yr 1997 - first fill sherry European Oak casks - "limited numbers" - £66 (approx $105)
Dalwhinnie 25 yr - "rejuvenated" American Oak hogsheads - 5,358 - £185 (approx $300)
Lagavulin 12yr - refill American Oak casks - "limited numbers" - £71 (approx $115)
Lagavulin 21yr 1991 - first fill sherry European Oak - 2,772 bottles - £350 (approx $560)
Port Ellen 32yr 1979 - refill American & European oak - 2,964 bottles - £600 (approx $960)
Talisker 35yr 1977 - refill American & European oak - 3,090 bottles - £525 (approx $840)

The positive:
These are all cask strength.  The Lagavulin 21 and Talisker 35 are really exciting.  It's only the second time they've released a Lag at that age, while this will be oldest official Talisker they've released.  The Auchroisk (never tried one) and Dalwhinnie (love the 15yr!) sound fun as well.

The negative:
The prices.  Not counting the annual Lagavulin 12 (whose price didn't change from last year's) and Caol Ila releases, with just a brief browsing one can find dozens (if not hundreds) of independent cask-strength single-cask releases of the same age priced lower than even the Auchroisk and Dalwhinnie.  The Brora price went up 14% from the 2011 Special Release reate.  The Port Ellen price almost doubled last year's.

I had a longer gripe about this, but decided against it.  The Special Releases were clearly not priced with the majority of whisky lovers in mind.  They are priced for connoisseurs with considerable disposable income.  I just hope that the people who buy 'em, enjoy 'em, and not take the whisky to the secondary market.

I can't end on the negative, though!

pic found here
Now that is some garrrrrrrrrrrrrrnish.

I'm sorry.  Bad.  No more pirates.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Even the Lagavulin and Caol Ila releases are a bit hard to swallow. $100+ for what could easily be regular releases? It's not as if they're much older than cask strength/single cask whiskies being put out by lots of other distilleries. And as you mention, there are indies going for a lot less. I could go to one of the liquor stores in PDX and get a D&T cask strength Caol Ila 27 for $200, which is basically a steal for such an old whisky.

    They're tempting, but there are a lot of other companies competing for my scotch whisky dollars right now.

    1. I agree on all accounts. $115 for a 12yr cask strength or not, is steep. I actually like that whisky quite a bit, but I won't buy it due to its price. I could buy 2 bottles of Uigedail at Hi Time instead.

  2. Love the pirate garrrnish! I'm a huge fan of all these Diageo malts but these prices are painful. I'm going to vote with my wallet and select single cask offerings from rebottlers while they remain a superior value. ...except maybe the Talkisker 35... and the Brora...

    1. Yeah, that Talisker sounds pretty amazing. And the indie Talisker selection is pretty thin. Douglas Laing has releases them as "Tactical" since they apparently don't have rights to use the Talisker name.

    2. "Tactical" - that's useful. I have to check out DL's selections more carefully. I like the sound of single cask Talisker. A lot.

    3. Yeah, it sounds great! Actually, I only know about them via some searches through TWE's site. There's a 10yr, 23yr, and 21yr G&M. The Maniacs like the last two, but no one's reviewed the 10yr, yet...

    4. you cant go wrong with the talisker. i bought the talisker 35 yr old boat box in febuary 2012 for £925 .look now ..its £1,750. 85% increase for abottle that was released less than 12 months ago = no brainer.

    5. When you can get an OB 30 year old Talisker for 10-20% the cost, I just can't imagine another 5 years mattering that much.

    6. Calling an indie version by another name is relatively common practice in the industry. Master of Malt called an indie Balvenie "Bally Delicious." "Grant"-ed (Sorry) that was a bit more confusing since Scotland has three distilleries that begin with "Bal-".

      I think my favorite nickname is TWE's Port Askaig for indie Caol Ila.

  3. I think if you're into whisky for the investment only, the Talisker 35 might be a interesting buy . But if you're into whisky for the joy and the sensory experience (and you don't have $800 to front for the bottle), then you can just wish the other folks good tidings and enjoy other drams in the Talisker range.

    1. The Caol Ila release is extremely interesting and a possible investment because it's the unpeated edition. The distillery made that batch about 14 years ago and released different ages over the years as special releases (8, 10, 12, 14). Now I've heard that Caol Ila will never make unpeated whisky again but on the other hand I've also read unpeated Caol Ila is prized for blending.

    2. Interesting. Someone from the biz told me that unpeated Caol Ila was being used in JW Red Label. Perhaps Rosebank may replace it?

      That Bally Delicious bottling looks mighty good. The price is (relatively) decent as well.

    3. Unpeated Caol Ila might have become redundant (in Diageo's opinion mind you) since Clynelish can easily fill that spot in a blend (unpeated Caol Ila has been described as Highland in style). It's also likely Diageo wants Caol Ila to concentrate on peated malt.

      My opinion is that Caol Ila should continue to make an unpeated batch now and then since these little experiments are always so much fun to taste.

    4. Yeah, it wouldn't hurt if Caol Ila did a round of unpeated malt once a year. Diageo can clearly sell it for a small fortune as part of its Special Releases each year. I should be trying one of these unpeateds within the next month or two.