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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Port Ellen – planning permission granted

Port Ellen

December is usually a slow time for whisky news – everyone’s keeping quiet to try and make sure that nothing gets in the way of Christmas sales. However, with Boxing Day just moments behind us and turkey leftovers as yet un-curried, Diageo announced its latest big thing: the new distillery being built at Port Ellen has received planning permission.

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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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