Norwegian News: November 2008, Part 1

Two months have passed since the last news release at the Norwegian Vinmonopolet, and it’s time for a new one. The last couple of years many of the importers have marked November as THE month for new releases, something that very much has to do with the Oslo Whiskyfestival – the main Norwegian whisky festival.

A whooping 30 malts (whereof one is Japanese), one Irish whiskey, one Scottish blend and three bourbons gives a total of 35 new whisk(e)ys for the Norwegian market in one go. Six of the malts are available through the normal assortement (available in all the larger stores, can be ordered to the smaller ones at no extra cost), the rest of the malts and the other bottlings might pop up in some stores but normally they have to be ordered in (still at no extra cost).

Due to the amont I’ll split the news into a couple of post, this first one will cover the six malts released into the larger stores. As usual I’ll also be giving the price in pound sterling (£). Last time the exchange rate was £1=9,84NOK, this has changed due to recent event on the world markets, and the rate as i write this is £1=11,62NOK.

The Singleton of Dufftown 12 Years Old (399 NOK/£34.34) is part of Diageos confusing range of whiskies, originally released only to the Duty free market. I’d just wish Diageo would have left the Singleton-name buried deep under Auchroisk Distillery (malts from Auchroisk was for a short time called The Singleton because someone in the company though the distillery name was too hard to pronouce abroad – read:in England). Easily confused with The Singleton of Glen Ord and The Singleton of Glendullan as many customers belive the whisky is called The Singleton.
But enough about that. the whisky itself is very nicely designed, just like the bottle. Definately the best OB-Dufftown I’ve ever had, though that’s not saying much. A great leap up from the old Flora & Fauna Dufftown that’s still available, but is being discontinued. The marketing departement at Diageo has got the taste down perfectly on this one “”Perfectly balanced, naturally rich and smooth” – in other words a bit on the dull side. But nice for those who aren’t too fond of much taste in whisky.

Chieftain’s Choice Dailuaine 1999 #5727 (576,40 NOK/£49.60) is a lively 9yo bottled from a single hogshead, bottled just for Norway by Ian MacLeod. Distilled in april 1999 and bottled at cask strength (52,8%). A lively and flavourful dram with (naturally) a very young style. A lot of sweetness in it, but nothing to overpowering. Nothing I’ll give to my mum, but I’d rather like another dram of it please.

Springbank Vintage 2000 #401 (701,50 NOK/£60.37) is yet another vintage Springbank (they seem to have spawned as of late). This is bottled just for Norway, and 322 bottles has been poured out of the refill hoggshead and bottled at cask strength (58,8%). Classic full flavoured Springbank this, a real treat for the Springbank fans. A bit on the young side for me, would have liked to see it age a bit more, but a smashing dram nonetheless – a bit pricey though.

Springbank Vintage 1996 #373 (731,50 NOK/£62.95), well what can I say – another vintage, single cask Springbank. Again it’s for Norway only, 280 bottles, refill hoggie and cask strength (57%). More maturity in this one and a bit more oakiness, but only a smidgeon. Getting hard for the Sprinbank crowd to decide how to spend their money just now. Better priced than the 2000 Vintage, really quite a decent price for it to be Norway and Springbank.

Berry’s Own Selections Laphroaig 1990 (938,30 NOK/£80.75) is bottled by those nice gents in London. While most of the BBR-bottlings in Norway have been watered down, this one is at cask strength (55,6%). After 18 years in the cask the smokiness is naturally a bit more discrete than in the QC or CS, giving the fruity flavours (banana peel), sweetness (toffee) and spices (leather) a chance to shine through. A big mouthful this one, will probably have a short stay on the shelves. Yummie.

Chieftain’s Choice Springbank 1969 (2418,80 NOK/£208.16) is a 39yo single cask, cask strength (57,8%!!!) bottling of Springbank from Ian MacLeod. A fabulous strength when you think about it, even though they filled the casks at higher strengths in the days gone by. A very nice price on it as well, and I do belive the 120 bottles won’t stay too long on the shelves. Haven’t had it yet, but would love to be treated to a dram or three. It must be real hard to be a Springbank-fan this mont if the money is thight – three  lovely SC-bottlings…

My list of preference for these six (if I had to buy them myself):

  1. Chieftain’s Dailuine 1999 – A bourbon matured, young, CS Dailuine – yummie.
  2. BBR Laphroaig – Mature Islay and full power, nice.
  3. Springbank 1996 – Good value, great flavour.
  4. Chieftain’s Springbank 1969 – Old, grand and packing a punch.
  5. Springbank 2000 – Too pricey, but a good dram.
  6. The Singleton of Dufftown – A mellow dram for visitors.

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