The Monolith Arrives

It's here. We've got our allocation. It's really good. The new Ealanta - Glenmo's special release for 2013 aged in charred new oak barrels - does one thing and it does it extremely well. It's a big, rich, seamless, warming, supple new oak-driven single malt with a fantastic burst of candied fruit on the finish. It's full of new wood and baking spices, but much more restrained than Bourbon or rye. Everyone needs a bottle like this at home. You'll invite your friends over for dinner, have some Scotch after you're done, and you'll want to taste them on a few different things. However, after they taste that super rare bottle of Ardbeg that you had shipped from overseas or that Brora you've been hoarding for years, they'll kind of look around the room, pause, and say, "Hey, can I try that Ealanta again? That was delicious." You'll sigh, wonder why none of your friends appreciate the effort it took to acquire these hard-to-find whiskies, but you won't be able to argue with their logic. One glass of Ealanta is like a tease. It's too good for just one glass. You'll kill this bottle in two weeks - max.

1993 Glenmorangie Ealanta 19 Year Old Single Malt Whisky $115.99 - It's getting to the point where the annual Glenmorangie special edition release is personally my most anticipated whisky of the year. The peated Finealta from two years back was a splendid release, super refined and very lithe on the palate. Last year's Artein was simply magical - it was easily in my top three favorites of the year. 2013 brings us another slam dunk, gotta-have-it, masterpiece release with the Ealanta: a 19 year old whisky aged in new oak from Missouri's Mark Twain National Forest. While that may not sound too interesting to the average whisky fan, it is very unusual for single malt whisky to see new wood - especially charred. American Bourbon must always be aged in new oak barrels, but Scottish single malt is almost exclusively aged in ex-Bourbon or ex-Sherry casks, which have already been seasoned with a previous liquid. The barrels used to age the Ealanta were air-dried for over two years, but were never used otherwise. The resulting flavors are not foreign, but they are intensified. The richness is richer, the oak spice is spicier, and the vanilla is creamier. This is absolutely one of the most polished whiskies I have ever tasted from Dr. Bill. There's nothing fancy going on with the Ealanta - it's simply perfect single malt whisky. Flawless. Round, robust, intriguing, with lovely baking spices and candied orange peel on the finish. I can't imagine anyone - either new to single malt or a chiseled veteran - not adoring the Ealanta. A true must-buy for me.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll