Whether a smoky Macallan, “black” single malt, spirit-filled advent calendar or a liqueur inspired by unicorn tears, all manner of innovative new spirits were unveiled last month.
In Scotch whisky, Glenfiddich went back to its Straight Single Malt roots with a new bottling, as Laphroaig celebrated its bicentenary with two limited edition releases.
Captain Morgan jumped on board the shot sector while one English distiller expanded its grape-based spirit range and Bacardi concluded its much talked about “Last of the Great Malts” initiative.
Looking at those which were made available on the market, as well as those which were unveiled to be released at a later date, this is our roundup of the top 10 spirit launches in September 2015.
Click through the following pages to discover which brands made the cut.
The Macallan Rare Cask Black
Edrington moved into smoky territory with the release of The Macallan Rare Cask Black, which has become part of its no-age-statement 1824 Masters Series. Crafted from less than 100 predominantly first fill, Sherry seasoned European and American oak casks, the whisky also includes whisky from the few casks of peated Macallan liquid available. Launching exclusively in global travel markets in October, the whisky will be available for a short time only as there will be no further production beyond the initial release.
Launched by online retailer Firebox, Unicorn Tears is gin-based liqueur bottled with pieces of edible silver. It is said to have a flavour of “candied orange peels” with “flying saucer sweeties” and a hint of maple syrup”. The product sold out of our initial batch within its first two weeks on the site due to the “unprecedented demand”, but more will be released on time for the Christmas gifting season.
Glenfiddich The Original
Glenfiddich The Original is inspired by the brand’s 1963 Glenfiddich Straight Single Malt – said to be one of the first whiskies to challenge the dominance of the blends. Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich’s malt master, recreated the liquid by nosing and tasting the original 1963 sample and following a recipe from the brand’s archives. Described as a “true taste of history”, Glenfiddich The Original has been aged in European oak sherry butts, which were predominantly used in the 1960s.
Drinks by the Dram calendars
Maverick Drinks unveiled its much-anticipated spirit-filed advent calendars for 2015, expanding the range with a number of new editions, including The Naga Chilli Vodka Escalation Advent Calendar. A calendar dedicated to old and rare whiskies, priced £1,000, meanwhile, contains whiskies worth up to £2,000 a bottle, including a 60-year-old single malt. The staple Whisky Advent Calendar (£145.95) includes a rare 50-year-old Scotch and an award-winning Japanese whisky, while the Premium Whisky Advent Calendar (£249.95), which contains rare single casks and whiskies worth up to £500 a bottle.
Laphroaig 32 Year Old and Laphroaig 16 Year Old
In celebration of its 200th
anniversary, Islay single malt brand Laphroaig launched two limited editions – a 16- and 32-year-old bottling. First established in 1815, the distillery’s 16-year-old Scotch whisky is said to have “intense fruit aromas”. It is now available exclusively in global travel retail at an RRP of €45. Laphroaig 32 Year Old has been aged exclusively in first-fill ex-Oloroso Sherry casks, leading to flavours of “dark Christmas fruits”. It is now available in specialist UK retailers at an RRP of £750.00.
Captain Morgan Cannon Blast
Diageo revealed its latest innovation last month – Captain Morgan Cannon Blast. Packaged in a cannonball-like container, the drink, targets the Millennial shot market. It is a mix of Caribbean rum, natural flavours and a “bold spice blend” of citrus, chipotle and jalapeño pepper. The innovation has been experiencing a soft launch in the US over the past two months, but brand owner Diageo officially revealed it last month.
Following on from the launch of its gin last year, Chilgrove Spirits is set to release what it claims is the first British vodka distilled from grapes. Chilgrove Vodka is made at Thames Distillers using neutral spirit distilled from grapes and mineral water filtered through the Sussex Downs. It is described as having an “elegant and crisp character”.
The single grain Scotch whisky category has expanded further with the launch of the standalone Port Dundas brand. Made using aged liquid from the now silent Port Dundas Distillery, which closed in 2010, the range currently consists of a 12- and 18-year-old. While single grain liquid from the site has been used in third party bottlings, such as in Douglas Laing’s Xtra Old Particular range, Diageo’s new range marks the first time a stand-alone Port Dundas brand has been launched.
Angostura No. 1 Once Used French Oak
Angostura unveiled its first rum finished in French Cognac casks last month. The rum is made up of liquid aged for a minimum of 10 years in American oak casks. This rum was then blended and matured for a further six years in French oak casks that once held Cognac. Angostura No. 1 Once Used French Oak is the second edition in the brand’s super-premium Cask Collection.
Launched by the Speyside Distillery at Europe’s biggest Harley Davidson motorcycle rally, Beinn Dubh is described as a “black” single malt Scotch whisky. With a name meaning “black mountain” in Gaelic, the whisky created using locally sourced barley and is finished in toasted port casks from the Douro Valley in Portugal – resulting in a particularly dark colour.
Bacardi concluded its “Last of the Great Malts” range with the launch of The Deveron, comprising a range of age statement bottlings from the firm’s MacDuff distillery. The Deveron Scotch whisky range currently consists of 10, 12 and 18-year-old bottlings and will later include single casks and small batches. Liquid from MacDuff was previously used for Glen Deveron single malt, which goes under different name as Diageo owns the MacDuff International trademark.