Laphroaig Càirdeas 2020 Port & Wine Casks

Laphroaig Càirdeas Port & Wine

While this year’s Islay Festival of Malt and Music – Fèis Ìle – has been rather different to other years thanks to the joys of the global pandemic, some things have stayed the same – a load of special whiskies have been released. Most distilleries keep their festival releases for visitors of the island, but a couple regularly send theirs a bit further afield. One of those is a whisky that I grab every year and have become an obsessive collector of, despite not always liking the dram: Laphroaig’s release. This year’s is one that wears its ‘Billy won’t like this’ credentials on its sleeve, but as ever, I’ll give it a go – Laphroaig Càirdeas Port & Wine Casks 2020: Port & Wine Casks.

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Mackmyra Grönt Te

Mackmyra Grönt Te

When it comes to the wider world of whisky, there are a few names that have risen to the top. Some are the oldest whisky makers in their part of the planet, some have well-known people, and others make weird and wonderful things. Mackmyra is rare in that it does all of the above: it’s the first Swedish whisky distillery, headed by master blender Angela d’Orazio, who is famed for creating craziness. Just like this latest release: a dram that is about as unnaturally composed as you can get, but still feels perfectly appropriate for the distillery – Mackmyra Grönt Te, Green Tea.

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Hernö Pnk Btl Gin – a pink bottle of gin not a pink gin

Hernö Pink Btl Gin

It’s a strange time for gin. It’s more popular than ever, with new bottles and distilleries appearing on a weekly basis. However, as the world of gin expands, so does experimentation within the category. New techniques, new flavours and new styles are all emerging, pushing against the legal definition of gin. As you’d expect, there’s a lot of discussion by gin makers and fans over whether this is a good or bad thing, and the latest shots to be fired have come from Sweden with the launch of Hernö Pink Btl Gin.

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Aberfeldy 20 Year Old Exceptional Cask Virtual Tasting

Aberfeldy Exceptional Cask 20 Year Old

With the world on lockdown, it’s difficult to get together to drink booze. However, while we might be siloed and self-isolating, that’s not stopping us drinking in company. During the past three weeks, I’ve been ‘out’ drinking with friends more than I have in the past three months, all from the comfort of my own flat – the virtual tasting is very much a thing.

To celebrate Easter, Dewar’s single malt ambassador Georgie Bell dragged together a random band of whisky fans, colleagues and her parents on Zoom to try one of the latest distillery-only bottlings from the distilleries she looks after – Aberfeldy 20 Year Old Exceptional Cask.

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The Mash Tun, Tokyo

Mashtun Tokyo

Tokyo is full of great bars and their reputation for whisky is second to none – if you want to drink interesting, then its the city for you. I only had time to visit one whisky bar during my trip to Tokyo, but, fortunately, the choice wasn’t difficult. Among the city’s bars, there’s one that has stood the test of time and is a must-visit for any whisky fan – The Mash Tun.

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Rosebank 1993 Cask #625 and #433

Rosebank 1993 casks #433 and #625

The past few years have seen three lost distilleries announce that they’re on their way to reopening. While Port Ellen and Brora have got the most coverage – not least from me – it is the third which has taken the most positive steps and looks like it should open its doors first: Rosebank.

Along with the project to reopen the distillery, new owners Ian Macleod have also decided to release some of Rosebank’s old stock, with the first two casks already starting to trickle out into the public – a pair of bourbon hogsheads from the distillery’s final vintage: Rosebank 1993 casks #625 and #433.

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Ardbeg Blaaack Committee Release

Ardbeg Blaaack Committee Release

The annual Ardbeg Committee release has become an inevitability in many ways. Firstly, owner LVMH aren’t going to miss the chance to launch a special, limited-edition whisky to the Ardbeg fan club that will definitely sell out. Secondly, the members of the Ardbeg fan club aren’t going to miss the chance to complain about a special, limited-edition whisky released for them that will definitely sell out.

In a dance as old as time…

This year’s offering at the altar of whisky fan consumption and internet abuse is the most quirkily named yet: Ardbeg Blaack.

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Daftmill 2006 Sherry Cask #039/2006 – Berry Bros & Rudd

Daftmill 2006 Berry Bros & Rudd

Daftmill is a distillery a bit different to the rest. More than a decade of anticipation of its whisky have created a bit of a monster, with bottles selling out in seconds, websites going down in flames at the first sign of a new release, and auction websites rubbing their hands in glee. However, one thing that seems to be missing in a lot of the dialogue around the distillery is what its spirit tastes like. I’m lucky enough to have tried a few releases, including the first single-sherry-cask release – Daftmill 2006 cask #039/2006.

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