Tag Archives: Scotch whisky

Finding rare Scotch whiskies among Edinburgh’s tourist traps

The little shop on Cannongate: Cadenhead's Edinburgh

The little shop on Cannongate: Cadenhead’s Edinburgh

A trip to Scotland would not be complete without a whisky stop.

However, my itinerary was far too short during a recent journey for a stopover at one of the country’s many distilleries. One possible alternative: a visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience, close to historic Edinburgh Castle and my lodgings. I quickly ruled that out after a consult with various online travel forums. No need for a Disneyesque ride explaining the whisky making process.

Hope remained.  About a half mile from of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Castle is Wm. Cadenhead, a tiny outpost of Scotland’s oldest and largest independent bottler of spirits, which is based in Campbelltown in the Speyside.

Until the mid-20th century there were many small firms that bottled and sold the pure product of Scotland’s distilleries. Cadenhead, among them, has been doing this for about 130 years. A loss of public interest caused the small producers and bottlers to close and today only a small handful of distilleries remain in the ownership of their founding families and even fewer of the bottling companies remain active. Others indy bottlers include Compass BoxGordon & McPhail and the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society, the name a few.

The shop at 172 Canongate on the Royal Mile, a touristy stretch of pubs, souvenir shops and store upon store selling cashmere scarves, is a tiny affair. No more than a half dozen people could fit into the small shop. Inside you’ll first see a display of fairy usual whiskeys.  Cadenhead casksTo the right, a chalkboard lists the store’s large cache of rare, aged whiskeys. To the left, just inside the store’s window, are several spigotted wooden casks, each containing a cask-strength expression of one of Scotland’s whisky producing regions—and a cask of rum.  It’s from these barrels that the shop sells bottles — 30cl, 35cl and 70cl — of whiskeys for takeaway.

Scotch whisky display at Cadenhed's

Scotch whisky display at Cadenhed’s

I explained to a gent who asked how he could help that I wanted to find a whisky that I could not find in America. I listed some of my favorites from the Speyside and The Highlands and the flavors I seek in a bottle, i.e. chocolate, spice, candied fruits, etc. He took a tiny plastic cup and poured a taste from a bottle next to a cask labeled Campbelltown. No details except a proof statement: 59.7—that’s 119 percent abv, a drink that must be cut with water. I’m told its been aged 15 years and that it’s a Springbank, which like Cadenhead, is owned by J & A Mitchell & Co. Ltd. Springbank Whisky is lightly peated and twice distilled. It’s smooth and offers up chocolate and dried fruit nuts.  Just right for. I’ll take 35cl.

Can I sample the Highland malt? I’m poured a taste. It’s sweeter than the Campbelltown as well as smooth. All the flavors I’m fond of in whisky are here. I’m told its origin is Glenfarclas and its age is about 10 years. Another bottle to go home.

Not a long shopping expedition, but enough to satisfy my whisky desire.  Next stop, Heathrow Duty Free.




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Glenmorangie adds a 1993 ‘virgin’ American oak single malt, Ealanta

Ealanta PackshotFans of Glenmorangie single malt Scotch whisky will soon have something  to cheer about: a new expression to sample, Glenmorangie Ealanta, part of the distiller‘s Private Edition range.

Scots Gaelic for “skilled and ingenious,” Ealanta is a 19-year-old Glenmorangie that’s been matured exclusively in virgin American white oak casks from the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains.

Glenmorangie, a Highland distiller, is renowned for its research into the effect of wood on whisky maturation and its previous expressions in the Private Edition range have been aged in barrels previously used for sherry and Tuscan wine. All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years

“It’s no secret in our industry that it’s the ‘wood that makes the whisky’ and for many years my team and I have been carrying out detailed research in this area,” Dr. Bill Lumsden, the company’s distilling and whisky creation director, said in a press release. “Ealanta is an experiment dating from the early 1990s. The casks selected from oaks of the Mark Twain National Forest were absolutely top quality and were unusual in that they had not previously held any liquor, such as bourbon.”

Lumsden said the interaction of the whiskey with the “virgin” wood made for intriguing flavors, which he described as a “huge mouth-filling, buttery, creamy, vanilla flavors – somewhat like a crème brulee topped with almond and marzipan.”

According to the distiller’s tasting notes: “Glenmorangie Ealanta has a soft toffee and butterscotch aroma, followed by vanilla and a curious strong hint of stewed fruits with a hallmark Glenmorangie top note of menthol. On the palate, candied orange peel, sugar coated almonds and sweet vanilla are to the fore, wrapped in an unusual nuttiness reminiscent of Brazil nuts in toffee. The finish is long with virgin oak derived spices such as clove, ginger and a hint of aniseed.“

Glenmorangie Ealanta is bottled at 46 percent abv and is not chill-filtered. It will be available in limited quantities, which once depleted won’t be refilled. New York, a major market for the brand, can expect distribution, said a spokeswoman.  The suggested retail price is $119 per 750ml bottle.

Glenmorangie Ealanta is the latest addition to the ongoing limited Private Edition range, comprising, so far, Sonnalta PX (aged in Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks), Finealta (aged in American white oak and Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks) and Artein (aged in rare Tuscan wine casks).


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Remy Cointreu buys Islay’s Bruichladdish distillery

Remy Cointreu has acquired the fiercely independent Islay single malt Scotch whisky brand Bruichladdich, marking the French spirits giant first move into the rapidly growing premium single malt Scotch whisky market.

The companies announced the £58 million ($89.9 million) deal in a July 23 press release issued by Remy’s London-based subsidiary, Remy Cointreau UK Ltd.

The Bruichladdich (pronounced  Brook Laddie), distillery, one of eight on the Island of Islay and until now the only one not part of a big group, had been owned since December 2000 by a group of private investors led by Mark Reynier of Murray McDavid, who resurrected the Victorian distillery with its unique tall and narrow-necked stills. Today it produces more than 50 different expressions.

“The acquisition of Bruichladdich, a renowned Islay single malt with a rich and exciting heritage, is a great opportunity to enrich our high-end portfolio of brands and to confirm our strategy in the spirits luxury segment,” Remy CEO Jean-Marie Laborde said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with Bruichladdich’s experienced and passionate management team”.

Sir John Mactaggart, chairman of Bruichladdich said, “This is an excellent transaction for Bruichladdich, the Islay community and a wonderful opportunity for the company to reach its full potential, under the stewardship of Remy Cointreau with their strong distribution network and their experienced brand development. I’m confident that Bruichladdich will establish itself as one of the Scotch whisky industry’s best known and acclaimed premium brands.”

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 in the western part of the island of Islay and was shuttered in 1994. It was resurrected in 2000. Bruichladdich single malts are distilled, aged and bottled on site. Port Charlotte, a heavily peated expression, and Octomore, the world’s most heavily peated whisky, are also distilled there.

The Rémy Cointreau Group, whose origins date back to 1724, produces Remy Martin and Louis XIII cognacs, Cointeauthe orange-peel liqueur, Metaxa brandy from Greece, Mount Gay Rum from Barbados; Passoa, a passion-fruit liqueur; Saint Remya French brandy among others. Remy’s U.S. distribution portfolio also includes Piper-Heidsieck Champagne,  the MacCallan, Famous Grouse and Highland Park Scotch whiskies and Russian Standard Vodka



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