Johnnie Walker Blue Label has pretty much cemented itself in pop culture as the de facto premium Scotch whisky. If you’re a fan of the cartoon series Archer, you might have heard of Glengoolie Blue. A pretty overt nod to the blue label. With it’s younger brother, Johnnie Walker Black Label, catering to palates of many whisky drinkers, the Blue seems to be reserved for the wealthy or special occasions. Whenever people find out that I like whisky, the most common question I get is if I’ve tried the Blue Label. Curiously, I haven’t tried it up until very recently. Mostly because the price tag seemed unjustified (at least I wasn’t interested in paying that much just to try it) and the availability of it made it likely that samples would eventually cross my path.
In 2016, the whisky world watched Lagavulin like a hawk, anticipating what expressions would be released for their 200th anniversary. When they announced the 8 year old as their world wide limited edition release, quite a few of us had mixed feelings. Their story behind the release was to recreate an 8 year old whisky that Alfred Barnard had tried at Lagavulin in the 1880’s, of which he described as “exceptionally fine”.
It’s a nice story tying in the famous whisky historian and Lagavulin but beyond that I can’t see much relevance. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. I don’t see how the 1880’s has any special meaning with respect to the 200th anniversary and it seems unlikely that they would be able to recreate that same whisky. So what other explanations can we come up with for this seemingly lackluster big anniversary release?
It was a pleasant surprise when Bowmore released this expression in 2016. By the looks of it, a well sherried young Bowmore for a very very decent price. By today’s standards they are practically giving this stuff away, and the fact that they decided to keep the age statement despite it being younger than 10 years is really nice. It’s quite a contradiction to their Batch 3 Devil’s Cask release. Perhaps this was intentional. With so many whisky brands choosing to go with No Age Statement whiskies and pumping up the prices, this was a refreshing move on Bowmore’s part. Does it live up to expectations though?
Age: 9 Years Old
Cask: Bourbon and Sherry (Predominantly Sherry)
Price: £24.95 at the Master of Malt
This here expression/bottling was released in February of this year along with the 33.143. Just a couple months before that in November of 2015, SMWS released the 33.132. So I like to think of these as the SMWS Ardbeg trio since they were released about the same time and they are all 8 years old from a second fill ex-sherry cask. Triplets if you will. One thing to note about the 33.143 is that it was actually a typo and the the code was supposed to be 33.134 which makes sense considering the ordering. I find it amusing because I have noticed a lot of issues with the descriptions not matching the whiskies on the website. So clearly SMWS was having some trouble with their systems. Wouldn’t mind consulting for a whisky fee!
Wooooohooooo! We finally got to try one of the Bowmore hand filled bottlings! Thanks to the University of Edinburgh Water of Life Society and committee member Matthew! This bottle was served at the Peaty Tasting on May 12, 2016. So yeah this was a while ago which goes to show how far behind I am with my posts.
Ah the ever confusing anCnoc! It’s weird to write, strange to pronounce, and not the name of the distillery. With all these marketting head scratchers, it seems to be doing well and for good reason. They make good whisky. Knockdhu is the name of the distillery but they changed the name of their whisky to anCnoc to avoid confusion with Knockando distillery. By the way it’s pronounced “a-nock” and apparently it is Gaelic for “the hill”. AnCnoc/Knockdhu is owned by Inver House Distillers who also own Old Pulteney and Balblair. Since Balblair almost exclusively release their whiskies with vintage statements, this relationship may explain anCnoc’s series of vintage whiskies.
Well this is a treat! We first tried this whisky on a Water of Life Society (WOLS) trip in 2014 thanks to a very generous member. Whiskyphiles did a post on it back then, and we recently tried it again while having dinner with the current WOLS president. It does pay to a part of WOLS!
St. Magdalene Distillery was founded in 1798 and closed in 1983 along with many other distilleries. It was located in Linlithgow which is a town about 20 miles west of Edinburgh. Due to its location, it is also known as Linlithgow Distillery. The distillery site has been converted into flats which seems to be a common thing to do with old distillery buildings. Linlithgow is most well known for Linlithgow palace which sits on the banks of the small Linlithgow loch. We’ve never been inside the palace, but it looks majestic from the outside and you can fly fish for trout in the loch if you purchase a fishing ticket from the Forth Area Federation of Anglers. It’s good fishing!