The world of single malt Scotch has been having a shake up the past couple of years. There have been countless new releases, more experiments with cask types and, of course, the sometimes controversial move into NAS (no-age statement releases).
It’s, therefore, been undoubtedly exciting. Whether you like the changes or not, it has created debate, and made a traditional, sometimes staid category more vibrant and enticing. You only have to look at the amount of stories in the news about Scotch whisky to realise that even the mainstream are intrigued by the happenings. It’s definitely getting cooler as it heats up.
And so, the latest news coming from John Dewar & Sons should really be no surprise – a company which has always focused heavily on blended Scotch (through its Dewar’s range) is now entering wholeheartedly into single malt Scotch territory, shining a light on all of the amazing malt distilleries which sit behind the famous blend.
But even with the buzz surrounding whisky, the new releases are a momentous thing. Over the coming 12 months, the company will release whiskies from Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, The Deveron and Royal Brackla. And not just one from each. Three to four from each.
This is huge. And this is a clear indication that its parent company – Bacardi – is suddenly realising just how important single malt whiskies are.
Many of these brands will not have been tried by even the most astute of whisky lovers. Royal Brackla only previously had a 35-year old (costing £10,000 a bottle) while brands like Aberfeldy have only been more commonly known in its 12 year old variant.
I was lucky enough to visit that latter distillery during Dramboree 2013. It was mooted then by Stephen Marshall, Malt Marketing Manager, that there might be some interesting releases to come. During that visit, we were able to try some single casks of Aberfeldy and Craigellachie and my only question was why weren’t these stunning malts being bottled for all the world to try?
As such, I’m thrilled to see that they will soon be hitting shelves (in 10 initial markets – Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK, the US and Global Travel Retail).
All of the information about individual releases and the background on each of the five distilleries will be available to find on the newly designed website: www.LastGreatMalts.com
But make no mistake – this is a huge deal. Not only for John Dewar & Sons (and in turn, Bacardi) but for the world of whisky. It is a declaration that a major global company believes in the future of single malt Scotch. And it is, to me, beyond exciting.
I’ve had a chance to try the Aberfeldy 18 (released for the Global Travel Retail market (i.e.: airports) at a cost of £72 for 1 litre). Here’s what I thought of it:
(n): Syupy and thick, oranges, vanilla
(p): Sticky and chewable: brown sugar, treacle toffee, cinnamon sticks, poached pears and dry spice
(f): Vanilla toffee