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Tuesday
Jun152010

Chieftain's Are Back With A Whole New Line Up

Just tasted through the newest line up of whiskies from indie bottler Chieftains' and I was very very impressed.  Best of all: we will be tasting all of them at Martin's West on July 13th so mark your calender!  These are the ones I am ordering for the store, the rest are available for special order online.  All of them are single barrel and bottled at 43%.  They are not in stock yet so you cannot order them until later in the week.

1991 Longmorn 13 Year Chieftain's Speyside Whisky $59.99 - This is the type of whisky that you recommend for anyone - regardless of preference.  It is a perfectly balanced Speyside malt that should please anyone who likes to drink single malt - a simple combination of soft fruit, malty sweetness, and a hint of vanilla.  The straw colored whisky has a soft and supple mouthfeel and the finish is long and rich.  With all the over the top flavor profiles in the malt world today, it's simply refreshing to find a whisky like the Longmorn from Chieftain's that is as classic and traditional as Scottish whisky gets, with a price that's very reasonable for a single barrel 13 year old.  My highest recommendation.

1996 Dalmore 11 Year Chieftain's Madeira Finish Highland Single Malt Whisky $64.99 - This independently bottled single barrel expression of Dalmore is a fantastic example of how barrel finishing can enhance a whisky without changing too much of the original character.  The always fruity and floral Dalmore is brightened by the Madeira notes - the whisky zips and sings its way accross your tongue on the entry, bursting with flavor.  The finish is soft and subtle with hints of vanilla and a kiss of sweetness.  A beautiful Highland malt only made better.

1985 Glencadam 22 Year Chieftain's Highland Single Malt Whisky $105.99 -
This a single barrel expression of Glencadam, an eastern Highland distillery that sees most of its whisky end up in blends like Ballantine, but they do have a 15 year old single malt available abroad.  The 22 year from Chieftain's is a golden amber color and an outstanding example of complexity without the addition of peat of cask finishing - it's all in the distillation and the age.  The nose is a barrage of aromas and the intial sip presents loads of oily flavors as well as a concentrated grainy character that gives way to vanilla and herbs on the mid-palate.  The finish is long and brooding.  A fascinating whisky.

1982 Port Ellen 25 Year Chieftain's Islay Single Malt Whisky $265.99
- Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!  WOW!  On the few rare occasions I've been able to sample the now-extinct Port Ellen (the legendary Islay distillery closed in 1982), it's been an absolute pleasure, but this Chieftain's bottling takes the cake.  Tasting a great Port Ellen is like finding that perfect and all-too-ellusive middleground that doesn't exist with today's Islay malts.  If you can imagine taking the best parts of Ardbeg's Beist, Bruichladdich's 16 year, and Bowmore's 18 and integrating them in a fashion that cannot be improved upon in any way, then you might come close to imagining what this whisky tastes like.  Delicate malt with perfect whisps of smoke infiltrating the sweetness of the grain, and a fantastic balance of richness that doesn't overwelm you like the Lagavulin 16 can sometimes do.  I would buy a case of this if I could afford it.  This bottle proved to me that Ardbeg is only my favorite distillery currently in operation.  Port Ellen - I love you.

1968 Springbank 39 Year Chieftain's Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky $375.99 - Sheer whisky perfection.  Only 132 bottles came out of this single barrel Springbank expression and they are glorious.  The amber beer color is beautiful and the whisky is everything you hope it will be: toffee, very faint hints of smoke, spices, herbs, and a gigantic finish of rich wood and malt.  Springbank independent bottlings are very rare and should not be taken lightly.  Only 18 bottles are available in California, so do not wait on this.


-David Driscoll

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