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Buying Guide Top Ten Spring 2017: Ohishi Single Sherry Cask

Ohishi Sherry Single Cask 1257The Spring 2017 issue of Whisky Advocate magazine hits newsstands in early March. We’re counting down the top ten highest-rated new releases as reviewed in the Whisky Advocate Buying Guide. For our Editor’s Choice, Value Pick and more great whiskies, subscribe now!

#8—Ohishi Single Sherry (cask 1257), 43.3% ABV, $75

This dark dram is distilled from malted and unmalted rice along the Kuma river in Hitoyoshi. The nose is redolent of stewed prunes, raisins, plum wine, and walnut, with a palate of treacle, molasses, burnt sugar, licorice, prune, dark fruits, mocha, praline, and nuttier elements. Skillfully, it never veers into bitterness. This should rock the boat for those who love a huge sherried-style whisky. (506 bottles) —Jonny McCormick

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 93

The post Buying Guide Top Ten Spring 2017: Ohishi Single Sherry Cask appeared first on Whisky Advocate.

Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (February 24, 2017)

Welcome to Inbox.  For those new to WFE, Inbox is our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our email inbox. It was created as we cannot write full articles or do justice to every piece received. It features items from around the world of whisky and is published by us each Friday.

Within Inbox we aim to write a few lines detailing each press release/piece of news/PR event that we have received and provide links, where possible, for you to find out further information.  This is the news that has grabbed our attention this week ...


Brown-Forman have named Rachel Barrie as their new Whisky Maker for their Scotch whisky portfolio, which includes the Benriach, Glendronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries.  She succeeds Billy Walker in the role and will begin her new job shortly.  Barrie moves from Morrison Bowmore Distillers where during her five year stint she oversaw much innovation within their Scotch whisky ranges of Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch, and laterly Ardmore and Laphroaig.  Previous to this she was with the Glenmorangie Company for 16 years as a whisky creator.

This week has seen Maureen Robinson, Master Blender for Whisky at Diageo, celebrate her 40th anniversary with the company and in the whisky industry.  Robinson, who currently works on projects for Johnnie Walker and across the single malt portfolio (this includes the exclusive and limited edition Special Releases programme), began her career at the Glenochil Research Station in 1977 and has progressed to be one of the best and most highly regarded blenders in the Scotch industry.  She is also a well respected judge in spirits competitions and was honoured and inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich in 2012.

“Congratulations to Maureen for such a fantastic tenure at Diageo – her work for Diageo and for the Scotch industry is invaluable and we thank her for years of service and dedication. I’m so pleased we can celebrate this milestone with her.”
Dr. Nick Morgan - Head of Whisky Outreach at Diageo.

Irish Distillers 

Irish Distillers, the Irish whiskey branch of Pernod Ricard, have announced a new series of whiskeys and the first four bottlings in the range.  The tag line of 'when knowledge and discovery collide' acknowledges the experimental nature of the new range, which is designed to push the boundaries of irish whiskey and showcase some of the most innovative work that the blenders, coopers and distillers are producing at the company.

The range, named Method And Madness, aims to combine the creativity of the whiskey makers and enthusiasm and fresh ideas of the apprentices. Many of the experiments are taking place at the Midleton Micro Distillery in Co. Cork.

The result sees four innovative whiskeys - a single grain finished in virgin Spanish oak, a single malt 'enhanced' in French Limousin oak, a single pot still finished in sweet chestnut casks and a 31 years old single cask of single grain.

All are bottled at 46% ABV, except the single cask single grain which is at the natural cask strength of 52.5% ABV.  There are only 105 bottles available of this release.  The whiskeys are priced as following - Single Grain €49, Single Malt €69 and Single Pot Still €89 - and they will be available in France, Ireland and the UK from the end of February.

The Single Cask Single Grain is one of the oldest Irish single grains ever released by any whiskey company and will cost €1,500.  It be available in the same markets from April.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

The SMWS have revamped their single cask bottling range of whiskies with the introduction of a colourful new design.  Their iconic green bottle remains but new features include the use of 12 colours to portray the 12 flavour profiles of whisky released by the Society.

These were introduced in 2014 to help consumers better navigate the new releases and to emphasis the Society's flavour-based approach to whisky.  Categories include 'Young & Spritely' and 'Juicy & Delightful'.

The 12 colours feature on the cap as well as a strip on the label and to show the age statement.  It represents the first change in packaging for nearly a decade. The new design also incorporates an updated version of the SMWS logo.

"Our new-look bottle blends our heritage with a colourful new design that reflects our 12 flavour profiles. The colours will help whisky lovers explore our range of flavours and ever-changing selection of whiskies."
Helen Stewart - Senior Brand Manager at SMWS.

The Ardbeg 21 Year Old

Tasting notes:
Sure there’s smoke.  Yup, it’s right there on the nose.  But it’s the kind of smoke that you need to focus on.  In time I determine that it’s smoke of a dozen lemons, each hollowed out with a dull oyster knife and stuffed with flower petals, then sewn shut with pig leather laces and jute, only to be set on a pyre.  Or perhaps it’s better to say that the nose is a hecatomb offered to the gods, but the animals led to this sacrifice are waxy crayon drawings of mastodons and aurochs, all bent in postures of vitality and insolence.  But above all there’s perfumed nut oils extracted from the skulls of magical whales, pierced with harpoon shafts sturdier than a hardened heart.

The mouth is more mysterious than I could have imagined.  It’s got tangy assertion, but a tremulous core.  Which is to say, it’s lithe and tricky.  There are cut celery pieces left in a jar in the fridge long after the ambition to eat healthier food abates.  Sea foam conveying crackers to a tiny eddy where otters go to determine what games they will play.  Mermaid tails slap against lobster traps in a difficult, 11/8 syncopation.  Eventually the interplay settles into low-register seriousness.  Consider Pepper Adams and Gerry Mulligan in a baritone sax battle royale for the ages.

The finish is longer than a Monday.  Except that it’s a good Monday, when the snows have closed the schools, the streets are empty, and a purple silence becalms the world.  Here the flakes fall in such a way that the street lamps cannot reach down enough to illuminate the roads but content themselves instead by creating round light clouds mounted atop iron stalks.  Turning from the window, you see the crackling hearth consume your worries and carry them up the chimney.  If your soul is a ship, you are in the captain’s quarters.  Aphrodite and her blushing maidens come forward to write permanently upon your heart its deepest wish.



On the scale of songs partially in 11/8 time–
The Ardbeg 21 is Here Comes the Sun–One of George Harrison’s most loved songs, this is a song of anticipation told from the perspective of gratitude.  “Sun, sun, sun / Here it comes.”







–Our thanks to David Blackmore and Ardbeg for the sample!



WhiskyCast Episode 629: February 19, 2017

Camden, New Jersey has a long manufacturing heritage dating back decades, but the city's glory days ended decades ago - leaving behind empty buildings, crime, and many other problems. James Yoakum is one of the entrepreneurs trying to bring back some of that faded glory with Cooper River Distillers in the heart of downtown Camden. He's been making whiskies and rums for the last couple of years, and stopped by our studio the other day with a sample of his first batch of Cooper River Bourbon. The Kentucky native tells us why he gave up on the real estate business to open an urban microdistillery on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. The whisky world lost two of its leaders this week, and we'll honor the legacies of Silvano Samaroli and Dr. Jim Swan. While we never had the chance to interview Silvano Samaroli, Jim Swan was a frequent guest on WhiskyCast, and we'll listen to part of a 2007 interview with him in the news. We'll also have details on master blender Rachel Barrie's decision to leave Beam Suntory to join BenRiach as its lead whisky maker, along with details on what the new trade deal between Canada and the European Union means for whisky lovers.

Loch Lomond Single Grain

Loch Lomond Single Grain Scotch Whisky 46% ABV $30 Website What the Distillery Says: Single Grain is an elegant and full bodied single grain with a smoothness making this exceptionally easy to drink. A single grain scotch whisky with a distinctive background character of soft fruits and creamy vanilla with a hint of smoke and … Continue reading Loch Lomond Single Grain →

The Trojan is Here!

The wait is almost over folks... 
Tomorrow (Thursday 31st March) sees the release of The Trojan- our first whisky from the Exile Casks project that we've been working on.

The Trojan was distilled on 19th June 1990, and filled into cask 3110.  It's been maturing for 25 years now and its finally ready for the world to taste!

To get your hands on The Trojan, which is bottled at 57.1% and available in 306 limited edition 50cl bottles, priced at £65, visit The whisky is only available from there and we envisage it to go on sale around 1pm UK time tomorrow.

Until then- here's a nice picture of the bottle!!

Discover. Liberate. Enjoy.
Joel & Neil x

Jim Murray, 2015 Whisky Bible and Why Scotch Whisky Sucks

There is always a good deal of chatter when Jim Murray releases his awards list ahead of the release of a new edition of his bible, surely the sometimes controversial choices he makes are no promotional accident...
Some of the best whiskies I was fortunate enough to taste in 2014 were from Japan, and I would agree that the Yamazaki Sherry Cask is a stunning whisky from one of the world’s greatest malt whisky-producing countries, but the Daily Mail’s (expected) sensational headline and Mr. Murray’s statements strike me as remarkably unfounded. That Scotch whisky has something to be “humiliated” about, that a perceived lack of innovation has hindered Scotch producers is near nonsense.
Scotch whisky is celebrated and esteemed as much for its diversity of flavour as for its adherence to traditional craftsmanship over its lengthy history but recent years have seen these traditions used in new ways, with innovation from barley to barrel to bottle across the industry, albeit within parameters. Interestingly, many of these innovations have been in turn praised and criticised by Mr. Murray over the past two decades, from 1994s praise of finishing to his 2008 critique of the practice.
Japanese whisky was founded on the traditions of Scotch whisky making over 90 years ago, and it could possibly be argued that Japan adheres even more to the traditional methods (wooden washbacks, direct firing stills, etc) than the average malt distillery in Scotland so I do question Murray’s implied praise of generalised Japanese “innovation” over just making really good whisky that he liked.
Since the mid-1980s, when the world saw its first Single Malt from Japan, Japanese whiskies have attracted acclaim. Since 2008, Japanese blends and malts have won major titles, most notably from the World Whisky Awards. This is not to say that Scotch has stoppedwinning these awards or top acclaim from writers, including Murray. Although Scotch has, until now, won his highest accolade in all but one edition of his bible, Murray has awarded more American whiskies in recent years than Japanese. It is no news that America and Japan make excellent whiskies. Not a great headline, though, and tough to sell newspapers or magazines with a headline like that, "Whiskies Being Made to High Standard Outside Scotland"
The assumption from Murray’s statements is that Japanese whisky has an edge on Scotch because of a stronger vision or wilder innovation; innovations like the highball campaign? No Age Statements? Local barley or local oak? There are precedents in Scotch in every case. So in what way is Japanese whisky’s success due to innovations that Scotch lacks? Zero. It is due to releasing top quality malt whiskies. To infer that this precludes the ongoing (and much longer-running) success of Scotch whisky is balderdash, but a great reminder that Jim Murray’s latest book is about to be released!
Finally, in case it has not been mentioned, Jim has a new book coming out next week. 

The Glenlivet Alpha Review


GlenlivetAlphaBig thanks to the folks at Deep Focus, a social media agency working with The Glenlivet, for sending me a free sample of the new Glenlivet Alpha expression that has only 3350 bottles shipping worldwide (not sure how many are coming to the U.S.). Especially since I’ve been flying under the whisky radar this past year (I’ll post more on that later). I haven’t checked out all of the marketing details, but apparently there is going to be a big “reveal” for Alpha in a few days, so I thought I’d go ahead and post some thoughts on the whisky while it is still something of a mystery (the box only states that it is a Single Malt bottled at 50% abv). The U.S. retail price is $120.

Tasting Notes

On the nose, my first impression is of cinnamon apples. Then vanilla custard, and finally some fresh wood shavings. Then back to the fruit, of the apples and pears variety. Looking online now at other reviews, I see people talking about lots of tropical fruits. Personally, that’s not the way I respond to this. It doesn’t strike me as tropical in the same way as something like Glenmorangie 18 year. But of course, this is all subjective.

On the palette, it starts out mouth-watering and juicy, sweet, then very slightly prickly on the tongue. There is a point where it becomes slightly nutty, and just as I start to expect a slight walnut bitterness, it pulls back. Very nice. It’s smooth as silk…almost buttery going down. It then becomes drying on the finish, before my mouth waters up again. A very enjoyable, if not particularly long, experience.


The Glenlivet Alpha is an extremely drinkable expression that would be great for sharing with all levels of whisky drinkers. It strikes me as a Special Edition release of their Nadurra expression. The overall flavor profile (especially on the nose) is quite similar. However, the Alpha has an extra silky smoothness to it relative to Nadurra, in the same way the 17 year finished Balvenie expressions relate to the 15 year single barrel. Though, I don’t detect anything resembling the typical “finishing” casks of sherry or wine in Alpha.

So what is it?

If this is a game, and we’re supposed to guess what the heck is in this black Alpha bottle, I’d have to guess a combination of first-fill and second-fill American White Oak bourbon barrels were used to mature the spirit. There is no sign of coloring or chill filtration (like Nadurra). Age? That’s a hard one. Is the extra buttery smoothness in the mouth over the Nadurra due to age, or is it related to the type of casks used? Not sure. I could believe a number of scenarios: 1) It’s a year or two older than the 16 year Nadurra. 2) They use a combination of refill casks and smaller quarter casks to give the impression of extra maturity, while keeping the oak in check, or 3) this is just the result of very carefully selected casks by the master distiller.


Did I really enjoy this whisky? Yes. Am I going to seek out a bottle? No. Do I think you’re an idiot if you do? No.

I really like this whisky, but for me, the 16 year Nadurra (at $50/bottle locally) is close enough in profile to keep me satisfied. On the other hand, I have no immediate issues with the price of Alpha. They are saying that it was “carefully crafted” by the master distiller, and it is a limited release of 3,350 bottles. It’s not going to be for everybody, but then, the limited run kind of takes care of that. :-)

I’ve seen much higher prices asked for “carefully selected” expressions…how about the Diageo Manager’s Choice a few years ago? Talk about crazy pricing. These things work themselves out, though. A bunch of those Manager’s Choice bottles can still be had at 40% discounts online. So far, The Glenlivet Alpha is selling out quickly. The UK allocation disappeared immediately. If, upon commencing with their “reveal” on Facebook later this week, people are outraged by what they hear, then I’d expect that feedback to influence future releases.

If they keep their main line whiskies priced reasonably, and of high quality, what’s the harm in experimenting with various boutique releases aimed at smaller segments of the market? I look forward to learning more about the story behind The Glenlivet Alpha.


Ch-Ch-Changes – Update Your RSS Feed!

Things are changing here at Whisky Party! We’re about to roll out a new design and switch to a new blog platform.

This is all happening on Monday February 20th!

If you’d like to continue reading Whisky Party in your RSS reader, you’ll have to update to the feed URL in your feed reader:

For a sneak peak at the new sight, you can check out our staging version here.

Studio A

The Ca Scotch Couple firmly believe in living below their means. They shop at consignment stores, sock away the max for retirement, and adhere to a strict 25% debt to equity ratio. Consequently, the CA Scotch Couple's move to paradise in 2004 couldn't have come at a worse time. It was at the height of the real estate boom; the only houses even remotely within the CA Scotch Couple's price range were shacks, and even those shacks had multiple bidders.
So, it is no surprise that the beloved Little Beach House was one such shack: a circa 1913, 700 square foot single wall construction edifice with outdated wiring, inadequate plumbing, precipitously sloping floors, and a hole in its roof. The CA Scotch Couple spent many (many many many) years making the Little Beach House habitable. Unfortunately, no matter what they did, there was no escaping the reality that even with its new wiring, plumbing, and roof, the Little Beach House was a shack.
So, when the real estate bust hit San Diego hard, the CA Scotch Couple decided to see if they could trade their shack for something a little more spacious. They took a financial bath on the Little Beach House, and set out on their house hunting adventures with three goals for the new home: it needed to have lost at least as much value as the Little Beach House had, it needed to be more spacious than the Little Beach House; and it couldn't be a project.
One of the first properties the CA Scotch Couple viewed was a lovely old mixed use loft conversion in a slightly dodgy area. This 1933 grand dame had started its life as an old fashioned car dealership/garage and had then become an artist's studio and residence. It had magnificent arching barrel ceilings, open architecture, exposed terra cotta masonry, and concrete floors. It also wasn't up to earthquake code, had a leaking roof, had been stripped of plumbing, appliances and countertops, and, worst of all, had birds nesting in it. It was a whopping 2700 square feet, but man, oh man, it was project. CA Scotch Chick dubbed it "the Bird Sanctuary," and the CA Scotch Couple swiftly walked the other way.
But the CA Scotch Couple kept their miserly eyes on the Bird Sanctuary, and within a few months, market forces had driven it down to the price that the CA Scotch Couple had paid for the Little Beach House in 2004. Project or not, the CA Scotch Couple simply couldn't resist. It was a remarkable space, and it was worth the pain to make it beautiful again. They made an offer.
For seven months, long before the accident and throughout the CA Scotch Couple's recovery, they fought their way through the tortuous short sale and then foreclosure process. They managed to buy the Bird Sanctuary from the bank on the final day of 2009, immediately moved in, and endured endless months of living under plastic sheets with construction chaos ringing around them.
On the day they finally closed on the Bird Sanctuary, CA Scotch Gent sat CA Scotch Chick down and asked for two favors. First, could they please, please, please, set a goal of having the renovations done by the end of summer? No more projects stretching for years. Secondly, could they please, please, please, stop calling it the Bird Sanctuary?
They set a goal of August 31st as the drop dead date for finishing the renovation, and they scheduled a party to make sure they met that goal. Then they cast around for a more suitable name — finally deciding on "Studio A" in honor of the sign over its door.
It was a long hard nine months, complicated by the CA Scotch Couple's recovery from their injuries and those all encompassing work schedules. However, on August 31st, a mere three hours before their party, the CA Scotch Couple finally removed the last of the plastic, pushed the furniture into place, and claimed Studio A as their own.
It was well worth the effort. Studio A is now up to code; the birds have been evicted; it has been scrubbed from top to bottom; and it is now equipped with new bathrooms, appliances, countertops, skylights, and roof. Gentle light filters into its spacious and gracious interior giving the CA Scotch Couple the impression that they are stepping into a magnificent cavern whenever they return at the end of the day — the perfect refuge for a pair of recluses. It has been an extremely long tough year, but the CA Scotch Couple are finally home.