Distiller’s Friday Roundup – March 1st, 2019By Mikael Mossberg
This is an exciting time of year for brands and consumers alike. Spring is almost here, big holidays like Mardi Gras and Saint Patrick’s Day are on the horizon, and Islay Festival is only a few months away. Most exciting this week is that we have news of new releases across the spirits spectrum. Interesting new gins, whiskies, rums and brandy all hit our radar. Ardbeg announced its yearly Islay Festival release, Ardbeg Drum. Irish Distillers’ debuted a brand new gin. Havana Club announced its 2019 Tributo Rum, and finally Courvoisier has a new sherry-finished cognac. Some are limited editions, but most are available globally. We’ll certainly cheers to that!
Irish Distillers’ Unveil Method and Madness Irish Gin
This week Irish Distillers’, the folks behind Redbreast, Green Spot and Jameson, announced Method and Madness Irish Micro Distilled Gin. The gin is inspired by gin recipes that date back to the late 1700s. It is meant to be a “reimagining” of pot still Cork Crimson Gin from 2005.
Master Distiller Brian Nation and apprentice distiller Henry Donnelly created Method and Madness Irish Micro Distilled Gin using “Mickey’s Belly”, Ireland’s oldest gin still. In fact, it was first commissioned in 1958 at the microdistillery in Midleton.
It is bottled at 43% ABV and will launch in global travel retail as well as Ireland in March. Coming in at an SRP of $57 per 700ml bottle, it will begin a global rollout in July.
Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice Gin
The first expression launching in Master Distiller Lesley Gracie’s “Cabinet of Curiosities” is Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice. The inspiration behind the gin is supposedly the “mysterious and ephemeral delights” of the blooming flowers during the summer solstice.
“I have always been enamoured by the power of nature’s flavors and aromas at the peak of summer and for this new expression I’ve hand-selected each floral essence to capture this intensity,” says Gracie.
Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice launches in the UK in March followed by the United States in May. It carries an ABV of 43.4%.
Ardbeg Releases Brand’s First Ever Rum-Finished Whisky
In celebration of Ardbeg Day 2019, the brand this week unveiled Ardbeg Drum, its first ever rum-finished whisky. It is a no-age-statement single malt that matured in ex-bourbon casks before finishing in ex-rum casks.
Ardbeg Drum will release globally on Ardbeg Day, the final day of the 2019 Islay Festival, June 1st, 2019. This release comes in at 46% ABV. Furthermore, a separate limited edition Ardbeg Drum (2019 Committee Release) becomes available to members of The Ardbeg Committee on March 5th, 2019. That release comes in at 52% ABV.
Bladnoch Launches Limited Edition 17 Year Single Malt
This week, Lowland Scotch Whisky distillery Bladnoch unveiled a new limited-edition non-chill-filtered 17-year-old single malt. The juice was first filled into ex-bourbon barrels back in 2001, then placed in ex-California red wine casks in March 2016 and January 2017.
Bladnoch 17 Year is available in stores across Europe now. The brand also plans to debut it in the US in late February 2019 and Australia and Asia in April 2019. It is bottled at 46.7% ABV.
Port Ellen 39 Year Launches Globally
Over 30 years ago, the Port Ellen distillery on Islay closed its doors. However, Diageo, which now owns the distillery, aims to re-open Port Ellen in 2021. In the meantime, Diageo is releasing whiskies in a new series called Untold Stories, and Port Ellen 39 Year is the first. As you can imagine, 39-year-old single malt from Port Ellen will be in short supply. Hence, only 1,500 bottles will be available through select luxury retailers globally starting in April of 2019.
“As this release has been selected from a small number of casks, it is very different to other Port Ellen releases. Authentic in character, as it came from the casks and natural in color, this liquid will no doubt inspire connoisseurs and collectors alike to own this once in a lifetime piece of history,” says Tom Jone, Global Prestige Brand Ambassador.
It is bottled at 50.9% ABV and has a suggested retail price £4,500 (~$5,988).
Havana Club Announces Tributo 2019 Rum
Three generations of masters of Cuban rum—or maestros del ron Cubano—worked together to create Havana Club Tributo 2019 Rum. Don José Navarro, primer maestro del ron Cubano; Asbel Morales, maestro del ron Cubano; and Salomé Aleman, the first female maestra del ron Cubano, each selected rare and extra-aged rums as the base. These rums, which first began maturation in the 1970s, 1990s and 2010s, represent the individual styles of the maestros. These selections were then blended with a rum that matured for more than 25 years in French oak barrels.
Starting in March 2019, only 2,500 total bottles of Havana Club Tributo 2019 will be available in over 20 markets. It is bottled at 40% ABV and has a SRP of €400 (US$455) per 700ml bottle.
Bayou Rum Releases Mardi Gras Edition
Just ahead of Mardi Gras 2019 (Tuesday March 5th), Bayou Rum revealed Bayou Rum XO Mardi Gras Edition. This limited edition rum aged in bourbon and sherry casks for six years using the solera method.
“We started making Bayou Rum about seven years ago, so these are truly our oldest, heaviest and finest rum stocks to date,” says Master Blender Reiniel Vicente. “While we have wanted to pay homage to Mardi Gras since we opened our doors, we had to be patient and pay special attention to ensure this expression was deserving of bearing the name of Louisiana’s most popular holiday.”
Coming in at 80 proof, Bayou XO Mardi Gras Edition has a SRP of $79.99.
Introducing Courvoisier Sherry Cask Finish
Due to the success of Courvoisier Master’s Cask Collection Sherry Cask Finish in Europe, the brand created Courvoisier Sherry Cask Finish especially for the United States market. While both cognacs aged for a period of 2-8 years, the most noteworthy distinction is that Courvoisier Sherry Cask finish finishes in Spanish sherry casks for at least four additional months, whereas the Master’s Cask Collection did so for two and a half years.
This cognac is bottled at 40% ABV and is available nationwide within the United States with a suggested retail price of $39.99 per 750ml bottle.
Are you a member of Ardbeg Committee? If not, you can join for free to get your hands on an early bottle of Ardbeg Drum.