A new year has dawned and the state run monopoly gives everybody a week’s respite before releasing the new products for sale. The official start date is Saturday 10th January. Not much to brag about in whisky terms this time, but then again January tends to be quiet time as everybody has spent all their money shopping for the Christmas hollidays. A total of seven items are marked as NEW, but one is an upgrade and one is a “down-grade”. I’ve used £1=10,4NOK as a rate of exchange for the price conversions.
Yoichi 10 Years Old (575,90 NOK/£55.38) is the first whisky out this year. It’s been available through the Order-assortement for a little over a year, but has now been “up-graded” (it won a tender) so it will be available in most larger stores. The upgrade also carries with it a minor price decrease (4 NOK). Yoichi Distillery is owned by the Japanese giant Nikka. The distillery was founded by the legendary Masataka Taketsuru who found so much about the area that reminded him of Scotland (where he traveled to, lived and worked in the whisky industry for several years). This is an extremely good introduction to the world of Japanese whisky. Light, clean and crisp nose with a hint of peatsmoke and spices. The light peatsmoke continues on the palate with some vanilla, sweet fruits, tobacco and lightely roasted spices coming through. A pleasant finish very well balanced. A good pre-dinner dram.
The first whisky in the Order-assortement is the Bruichladdich 1998 Oloroso (650 NOK/£62.50), one of two purely sherry cask matured Laddies out this winter, and the only one to come to Norway at this stage. A rich and decadent malt with all the flavours only a full term sweet sherry maturation can give: plums, apricots, oranges, rasins, dates, nuts, toffee and vanilla. Definately a malt fit for (if not as) pudding. Enjoy while it lasts as only 9000 bottles have been made, and a mere 1% (90 bottles) have come to Norway. For the anoraks: the sherry butts were made of American Oak, the whisky bottled at 46% abv. and, of course, without any E150 or chill-filtration. It’s good to see the folks at Bruichladdich putting out more expressions without all the ACE’ing hullabaloo they’ve become infamous for, IMHO.
Adelphi Linkwood 1990 17 Years Old (983,30 NOK/£94.55) is part of the second batch of Adelphi-bottlings to reach our shores (OK, it’s a batch consisting of three full bottling). This is a bottling following in the footsteps of the great cask Adelphi bottled in 2007 (#9733). This is cask #9734, it’s neighbour. Linkwood is one of my, many, favourite distilleries and when bottled by Adelphi it’s bound to be a smashing dram. Bottled at 48% abv. Norway is actually one of the first countries to get bottles from this cask, with our neighbours Sweden following in Febuary (at a slightly higher price I might add). Limitied availability, it’s single cask after all, so get ‘em while you can.
The other is an Adelphi Mortlach 1990 17 Years Old (984 NOK/£94.62). A distillery where IB’s are starting to thin out as Diageo needs every last drop for their own blends (JW Black in particular). A bit steeply priced to the £60 charged at RMW, but still cheaper than our “low-cost” neighbour, Sweden. As with the Linkwood this promises to be a fantastic dram. Bottled at 57,5% and is from cask #5945. Mortlach-fans: take your places.
Last one out is the Adelphi Cameronbridge 1978 30 Years Old (1515,30 NOK/£145.70). Distilled very early in 1978 as this is cask #5. Originally matured in a sherry butt, but re-racked into a bourbon barrel in 2001 (most likely due to leakage). Bottled at 56,6% abv., a grand strength for such an old whisky. A prime example of this lowland grain from just outside Leven in Fife. in Adelphi’s own words: “A truly magnificent nose of maple syrup, sour plums, Black Forrest Gâteau, and even some pickled gherkins with horse-raddish. Another wee sniff brings Baileys, cedarwood, macaroons, almost a Bourbon or Irish whisky. Finally, some caramel popcorn and Rice Crispy bars. With water, the nose becomes more aromatic – scented candles, even floral (Jasmine). To taste, rich, melted Crunchie bars, plenty of chocolate, then coconut, cedar wood, now chocolate Grappa, Banoffee Pie, and a huge, lingering sweetness – so rare in a single grain. The ideal dessert whisky.” Although a bit costly, I’ve got no doubt it’s worth it. And just to rub it in: it’s more expensive in Sweden.
Bruichladdich DNA 36 Years Old (4999 NOK/£480.67) is a whisky for collectors. This whisky is a result of the vatting of the last casks from the late 60s and eary 70s that the present owners acquired when they bought Bruichladdich (1965, 1966 and 1970 to be exact). 80% has been matured in ex-bourbon and 20% in ex-sherry. Bottled at cask strength (41% abv.) and with no E150 or chill-filtration. So far – so good. But the whole shebang has been finished (ACE’d in Laddiespeak) in casks from Chateau Le Pin in pomerol (Bordeaux). Ch. Le Pin is an unclassed wine (doesn’t bear a AOC or any other “quality” markings) and is at times the most expensive wines in the world (a bottle of the 2007-vintage costs £635 plus taxes through Berry Bros & Rudd, for delivery at a later date – the 2006 (also for delivery later) is a mere £1075 plus taxes – btw. cases of 12 only). But back to the whisky. 9 of the 935 bottles made have come to Norway, and will most likely sell out quite quickly to those who collect these things – I’d rather have 7 bottles and change of the 1998 Oloroso thank you.
The last whisky stated as NEW is the Arran 100 Proof. But as that expression has been available since May 2007 I won’t review it now. It’s listed as new since it’s back on the Order-assortement after a spell on the Standard-assortement.