This year's three-pronged spirit release has been odd. First up was the insanely expensive, too-old-for-their-own-good whiskies that no one who buys actually drinks. Then there was the put-a-ballot-in-and-hope-you-get-lucky phase which we chronicled here. To be honest, it was the weakest lineup in years and, judging from the number of bottles still available, the public agreed. But now we come to the heart of the lineup: the main release will be in stores this Saturday and while there are limits on some bottles, for the most part the frenzy should be less this year thanks to the first two phases having already been completed. Here's the bottles we think merit some attention.
I've never been a huge fan of Abelour (although its A'bundh cask strength remains a standard bearer for the genre) so this pick is a pure value play. For starters, 18 years worth of well-made highland malt for $150 is a steal (the inferior Glen Grant 18 is in the sale for $275). For seconders, this bottle sells for about £120 in the UK, making our BC price quite enticing.
This is the last of the Edition series that Macallan will issue, which might help on the collectability front if you're into that. But more importantly it's a lovely tasting dram—a beautiful melange of caramelized dates, digestive crackers and some flamed orange peel. Macallan drinkers often love the classy-ness of their malts, and this one follows in that staid but well-done tradition. Maybe the best of the editions (other than 1, which is a legend).
Against all odds, I love this whisky. Like many people I find myself frequently drinking whisky after dinner and this bottle aims for the sweeter—but still not sweet—profile one might enjoy with a slice of, say, pineapple upside-down cake. It's a premise that could go wrong in 100 different ways, but in the hands of Glenmorangie's legendary Dr. Bill Lumsden it's a revelation of the effect of Hungarian Tokaj casks on Glenmorangie's already warm spirit. Plus, this might be the most strikingly fun bottle to come out of Scotland in a generation.
Even as the Irish Whiskey renaissance continues unabated, there's still wonderful spirits to be had at very good prices. Take this bottle from Glendalough—a distillery recently purchased by Anthony von Mandl's Mark Anthony Group. It's using the virgin Irish Oak here, which is almost unheard of in modern times, and the first time I tasted it I recalled my first sip of a then little-known brand called Redbreast all those years ago. If this was a stock, it would be a Strong Buy.
This a very ho-hum release for bourbon lovers. Bourbon's soaring popularity means that interesting bottles are sold out well before they ever cross the 49th parallel, which means we're left with bottles of Maker's Mark specially bottled for the BCLDB, which as good as they might be, are not exactly sexy. But my fave of this release is this deliberate throwback offering from Jim Beam—essentially trying to create a bottle of bourbon that mirrors the flavour profile of something produced in the 1880's. It's a cool idea and this mash tastes like corn: not wheat, not rye, but good ol' fashioned corn. It's not carbon filtered, it's not chill filtered and it's a walloping 100 proof. Good on Beam for making this affordable throwback.