The Glenlivet Capsule Collection – this is why we can’t have nice things

Glenlivet Capsule Collection

Despite its often staid appearance, the whisky industry is interested in doing new and exciting things. At the beginning of October 2019, Glenlivet embraced that and launched something a little bit different – cocktails served in edible pouches: The Glenlivet Capsule Collection. I went to the launch, drank/ate some great cocktails and went home happy that I’d tried something new.

The internet, however, was having none of it.

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Laphroaig Càirdeas 2019 – Cask Strength Triple Wood

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2019

When it comes to whisky festival releases, Laphroaig has one of the longest-runnning traditions. Since 2008, the distillery has produced a bottle for Fèis Ìle – the Islay Festival of Malt and Music – as part of the same series: Càirdeas. The 2019 release is a fan request become reality – Laphroaig Càirdeas Triple Wood Original Cask Strength.

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Verdant + Zagovor Abahrapa Kveik IPA

Verdant Zagovor Abahrapa

When it comes to the no-longer-so-new wave of hazy and fruity IPAs, the past couple of years have seen one name shoot to the top of the pile – Verdant. Add Zagovor, a Moscow brewery with a growing reputation, and kveik, the Norwegian farmhouse yeast that has become a recent craft beer darling, and you have a beer that I need to try. Time for Apahrapa Kveik IPA.

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Filey Bay – The Spirit of Yorkshire’s First Release

Filey Bay – Spirit of Yorkshire

The Spirit of Yorkshire is a distillery I’ve been keeping an eye on. Not only is a friend of mine its whisky director, but the maturing malt spirit has been some of the best that I’ve tried from an English distillery. That spirit has now hit the magical three-year-old mark and the first release has landed – Filey Bay.

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Compass Box Transistor and Punk IPA

Compass Box Transistor and Punk IPA

The boilermaker. An annoying name for a tradition as old as modern whisky – drinking it alongside a beer. With BrewDog having expanded into spirit-making and continuing to grow its bar estate, it was only a matter of time before it got in on the action. While this isn’t the first time they’ve done whisky and beer stuff, it’s certainly the most concerted effort – three whiskies, from three producers, each matched with a BrewDog beer. I’m not a big fan of two of the three, but the third I’m quite partial to: Compass Box Transistor paired with Punk IPA.

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Caperdonich 18 Year Old – Peated

Caperdonich 18 Peated Secret Speyside Collection

Travel retail, the artist formerly known as duty free, is a strange place. From the ridiculously high-end to the cheap and cheerful, you normally have to do a bit of digging to find something that is both of interest and in your price bracket. It’s a useful place for companies to try out new ideas, and I tried one of those on my most recent trip through Heathrow. It was part of the new Secret Speyside range of whiskies from Pernod Ricard: a rare official bottling of Caperdonich 18 Year Old with a twist – it’s peated.

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Glen Grant 1956 62 Years Old – Mr George Centenary

Glen Grant 1956 Mr George Centenary

Gordon & MacPhail is well known for having some of the best stocks in the whisky industry. The company’s Elgin warehouses are filled with ridiculous whiskies from over the past at least 75 years, with rumours abound of more ancient things hiding in the darkness. This is all thanks to the Urquhart family’s long-standing approach of laying things down for the future, which really came into its own under the stewardship of George Urquhart, son of John, the first member of the family to run G&M.

This year, 2019, is the centenary of his birth, and to celebrate Gordon & MacPhail have released a new whisky, from George Urquhart’s favourite distillery and with enough tie-in numbers to make the most jaded marketing twitch with joy – Mr George Centenary Glen Grant 1956 62 Years Old.

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Iron Root Republic Icarus 2019 Straight Corn Whiskey

Ironroot Republic

Ironroot Republic is a distillery that I have been much impressed by. From its Texas Legation bourbon, bottled specially for Berry Brothers & Rudd, to Hubris corn whiskey, I’ve not had a bad drop. However, despite generally offering a Texan twist on more traditional styles of American whiskey, they’re not afraid to experiment. This is definitely one of those experiments: the 2019 release of Ironroot Republic Icarus.

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Heaven Hill 2001-2015 Sherry Cask – Malts of Scotland

Malts Of Scotland

Scotch whisky and American whiskey have an interesting relationship. Ideas have bounced back and forth for years, with emigrants from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England taking whisky to the new world, and everything from grain and casks to tips and tricks flowing back across the Atlantic in the years since – a process sometimes called bourbonisation. But sometimes it needs an outside influence to make something a bit different – step forward German bottler Malts of Scotland and this whiskey, part of a series finished in non-traditional casks: Heaven Hill 2001 matured in a sherry cask.

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