So while the government denies any knowledge of the missile/airplane/ufo that was filmed over LA this Monday evening, everyone else is either frantically awaiting the release of Van Winkle and the BTAC stuff, or like David and I, awaiting our new single barrel stuff with baited breath. Amazingly, other things are still happening in the spirits world and the world at large. Here is a brief rundown of some of the new arrivals this week.
This was a serious favorite of mine at Whisky Fest and was well received by Malt Advocate. Compass Box Flaming Heart Third Edition Malt Scotch Whisky 750ml - $89.99. John Hansell says, "A marriage of three different single malts, aged in American and French oak. This whisky shows the advantage of marrying whiskies from more than one distillery (when properly done). Vibrant, with a complex array of fruit (orchard fruit, sultana), sweetness (light toffee, marzipan, honeyed malt), spice (creamy vanilla, mocha, warming pepper), smoke (tar, smoked olive, coal), and lesser notes of toasted almond and beach pebbles. More smoke and tar on the palate than the nose, yet always in balance. Well played! I like this version (the third Flaming Heart release and second one brought to the U.S.) better than the last one imported here. I love the balance on this one, all the way through to the finish." 95 points. Needless to say I don't feel bad about falling in love with this small production vatted malt. Compass Box Whisky Co. represents a breath of fresh air in an industry stuck in tradition and slow to adapt. Always the innovator, John Glaser, has often run afoul of the "scotch authorities" and continues to push the limit of what we expect from blended single malt. Mr. Glaser has succeeded when many assumed he'd fail and this bottling is another poke in the eye (nail in the coffin) of the naysayers. The bottle is beautiful and the juice is even better; The price is right as well. Get it before everyone else does.
Next we have a classic that any American Whiskey collector can appreciate. Woodford is one of America's most popular bourbon brands and each year they release a small production experimental bottling. The Master's Collection is meant to honor tradition while incorporating innovation. This years release is finished in Maple Wood. The Sugar Maple tree was often over looked as a source wood for barrels as the staves are very difficult to manipulate. Maple wood has a very complex structure both physically and chemically. As the name would imply the Sugar Maple tree has an exceptionally high level of sugar in its sap as much as 3%. The barrels are toasted rather than charred in order to accommodate the fickle maple wood as well as prevent this whiskey from becoming overly sweet. Bottled at a satisfying 47.2%, this Woodford must be tried to be understood. Only 18,282 bottles produced. Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Maple Wood Finish 750ml - $84.99
Here's something different - Deleon Anejo Tequila 750ml - $149.99. Deleon has come to the saturated tequila market with a new twist. Using the very best ingredients at every step, Deleon has set a new standard for quality and innovation. From what I can tell its not just another gimmick either. The few opportunities I've had to interact with actual agave growers from the Jalisco region they've all agreed that Deleon represents the finest juice available. This comes in conjunction with a marketing savvy that makes Patron look like amateur hour. Anyway, the excellent Blanco and Reposado, now have a big brother to look up to. Deleon's Anejo spends 18 months in frent oak barrels untainted by whisky. The golden delicious liquid is then ace'd for several months (secretive is an understatement for these guys) in Chateau d'Yquem barrels. The intense agaveness is not lost after the nearly 2 years in barrel. The sweet Bordeaux barrels add and interesting twist to an already exceptional package. My tasting notes are as follows, "Nose: Stone fruit, salt water taffy, pink pepper corn. The palate delivers a soft smooth agave tweaked with the Sauterne barrels depth. Buttercream, bell pepper, and rich sweet agave fruit." Very interesting indeed and the bottle makes it a most impressive gift. Please act fast as production levels are supposedly "extremely limit."
Deleon Anejo Tequila 750ml - $149.99