Distiller’s Friday Roundup – October 2nd, 2020By Stephanie Moreno
How is it October already? It’s hard to keep track of time these days, but fall is in full swing (October baseball, baby!). This week, in addition to the slew of playoff games to help distract us, several exciting new releases were announced including Highland Park Cask Strength. This bottling marks the first in a series of batch strength single malts to come from the Orkney Islands brand. Speaking of Scotch whisky, Diageo announced the latest Orphan Barrel bottling. This one is named after a prize-winning pig who is featured on the bottle wearing a tartan sash.
Moving on to the rum world we have the latest Master Blenders Collection from Mount Gay. It is notable for using tawny port casks in its maturation. Also announced this week were two new Plantation rums, both featuring rum from the Fiji Islands. And if you’re getting a head start on your holiday shopping, you might want to check out the new release from Crystal Head Vodka. Unusually, it is made with Blue Weber agave, but it’s the bottle that will likely draw you in first.
We’ve got all the details on these new releases and more in Distiller’s Friday Roundup for October 2, 2020!
Highland Park Cask Strength Batch Series Launched
Highland Park Cask Strength Edition No. 1 is the first of an expected series from the Orkney Islands single malt brand. Highland Park master whisky maker Gordon Motion selected and then married the casks for this batch which includes single malts of various ages. The casks featured in this batch are predominantly American oak sherry-seasoned casks.
“A cask strength whisky is very much made the traditional way but it doesn’t have to be enjoyed so. Its full flavor allows you the control to discover the taste and strength that appeals to your palate by adding ice or water according to your preference” said Motion.
“I want to give everyone who loves Highland Park the chance to experience our single malt whisky in its purest form by bottling ‘straight from the cask’ but allowing you to choose the strength you want to drink this special single malt.”
Highland Park Cask Strength Edition No. 1 is bottled at 63.3% ABV. It is available globally as of September 2020 and has an SRP of $90.
Orphan Barrel Releases Single Grain from Closed Distillery
Muckety-Muck Single Grain 24 Year is a release under Diageo’s Orphan Barrel Whisky Co. portfolio. This single grain whisky was distilled at Port Dundas Distillery (1810-2010) and aged for 24 years before bottling. During the distillery’s most successful periods, it had a piggery on-site and the draff leftover from the mashing process was fed to the pigs.
The pig on the bottle is named Muckety-Muck, a prize-winning pig that had the breeders keen to use him in their endeavors. There are six variations of the bottle label with the color of the tartan sash worn by Muckety-Muck featured in red, green, blue, gray, yellow or orange. The SRP of this limited edition release is $225.
Bushmills Introduces The Rare Casks Series
Bushmills 28 Year The Rare Casks Cognac Single Malt is the first release in a new collection called The Rare Casks. The single malt is made using 100% unpeated Irish malted barley and was triple-distilled in 1992. After distillation it aged for 11 years in former oloroso sherry and ex-bourbon barrels. Then the two whiskey batches were married and recasked into former cognac casks for a final 17 years of maturation. It is bottled without chill-filtration at a cask strength of 46.7% ABV.
Only 500 bottles were made for this US exclusive release. It is available as of October 2020 at select retailers and online with Flaviar. It has an SRP of $500.
Third Mount Gay Master Blenders Expression Released
Mount Gay The Port Cask Expression is the third release in the brand’s Master Blender Collection which first began in 2018. The Port Cask Expression is the second release from current Master Blender Trudiann Branker. Wanting to feature casks not typically used at Mount Gay, Branker settled on European oak tawny port casks.
The rum consists of two parts. One is a column-distilled rum which aged for 5 years entirely in tawny port casks. The second rum was double-distilled in copper pot stills and aged initially in ex-American whiskey barrels for 14 years before finishing in tawny port casks for one year. Branker blended these two rums and bottled the blend without chill-filtration at a cask strength of 55% ABV. Available in the US as of mid-October 2020, it has an SRP of $175.
Two Fijian Rums from Plantation Announced
This week Plantation Rum announced two new rums made in partnership with The Rum Co. of Fiji including a permanent addition as well as a limited edition vintage bottling. As is standard for Plantation, the rums were both double aged—first in the climate of the Fiji Islands and then in the Ferrand cellars in Cognac, France.
Isle of Fiji is distilled with molasses at The Rum Co. of Fiji and is a blend of both column and pot still distillation. After first aging in Fiji for 2-3 years in ex-bourbon barrels, it is then sent to Cognac, France where it ages for an additional year in former Ferrand cognac casks. This launched in Europe in April 2020 and the US in September 2020. It has an SRP of $25.
This vintage release features rum distilled in triple column stills at The Rum Co. of Fiji. It was aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon barrels in Fiji before it was recasked and aged for an additional year in French oak Ferrand cognac casks in their cellars in Cognac, France. Only 28 casks were produced and it was bottled at 50.2% ABV. It was released in Europe in July 2020 and the US in October 2020. The SRP for this bottling is $80.
High West Debuts Two Barrel Finished Cocktails
This week Utah-based High West Distillery announced that two new ready-to-drink cocktails will be released nationwide. The cocktails were conceptualized by High West Master Distiller Brendan Coyle and Beverage Director Steve Walton. After the cocktails were made, they each spent some time in used rye barrels before bottling. Each barrel finished cocktail is sold in both 375ml ($29.99) and 750ml ($49.99) bottles which pour 6 and 12 cocktails respectively.
“Our goal was to embody the essence of these classic cocktails while incorporating our distinct High West flare,” explains Coyle. With a blend of bourbon and rye as the base, each has a unique added depth that sets them apart from other bottled cocktails. We are proud to introduce them to both whiskey fans and cocktail lovers.”
This ready-to-drink cocktail is made with straight rye, straight bourbon and bitters. It is sweetened with demerara simple syrup. Then the cocktail spends some time in used rye barrels before it’s bottled at 86 proof.
This ready-to-drink cocktail is made with straight rye, straight bourbon, vermouth, and bitters. Then the cocktail spends some time in used rye barrels before it’s bottled at 74 proof.
TIDBITS FROM AROUND THE SPIRITS WORLD
Time to take a quick look at what else is going on around the world this week…
Ballantine’s 7 Year Bourbon Finish is a blended Scotch whisky aged in traditional oak barrels for 7 years. Then it is finished in ex-bourbon barrels before bottling at 40% ABV. It’s available globally as of September 2020. It has an SRP of $35.
Crystal Head Onyx is the third permanent addition to the brand’s vodka lineup which also includes the Original and Aurora bottles. It’s made using Blue Weber agave sourced from a single farm in Mexico. Like the other marques in the portfolio, Onyx is filtered through layers of quartz crystals known as Herkimer diamonds and the water used in its production is glacial water from Newfoundland where the vodka is distilled. It is bottled in the brand’s signature skull bottle design, but this time it’s a glossy black color. It has an SRP of $55.
Kahlúa Blonde Roast Style launched in October 2020 as a permanent addition to the coffee liqueur portfolio. It is made with medium roast coffee and “hints of caramel, toffee, and citrus flavors”. The brand recommends serving with coconut water or tonic. It has an SRP of $18.99.
Douglas & Todd Bourbon Cream starts with the brand’s Small Batch Bourbon which is aged for a minimum of 4 years. Vanilla bean flavors and cream sourced from Midwestern farms are used in the production of this liqueur. Bottled at 30 proof, this cream liqueur is a limited edition release which launched in fall 2020. It has an SRP of $34.99.
Looking to grab a bottle of Highland Park Cask Strength Edition No. 1?
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