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The Glenrothes 1992 Vintage, 2nd Edition Launches in the U.S.

The Glenrothes 1992 Vintage, 2nd Edition

For single malt Scotch aficionados, it’s been far too long since the legendary Ronnie Cox last hosted a whisky tasting in Los Angeles. In 2012, he presented a music-themed tasting of The Glenrothes at The Parish, which culminated with the spectacular 1978 vintage. Cox, the Global Heritage Director of Berry Bros. & Rudd, was back in L.A. recently to celebrate the launch of The Glenrothes 1992 Vintage Single Malt Whisky, 2nd Edition.

The first 1992 vintage was released in 2004. At that time, Glenrothes Malt Master John Ramsay selected the casks he felt were at their peak, but left some casks to continue aging. Ten years later, under current Malt Master Gordon Motion’s watchful eye, the second edition of the 1992 vintage launched to the public in October 2014.

In the press materials, Cox says the 1992 Vintage, 2nd Edition is “definitely an uplifting, conversational style. The original 1992 was more formal and austere; here we have a confident, but altogether more ‘come-hither’ expression. This edition is the first Glenrothes vintage comprised entirely of whisky aged in refill casks, allowing the true Glenrothes character to come through.”

The tasting took place at Faith & Flower, recently named by Esquire as one of the 2014 Best New Restaurants in America. The vertical tasting featured The Glenrothes 2001, 1998 and 1995 vintages. The highlight of the event was a dram from the second bottle of the 1992 Vintage, 2nd Edition to be opened in the world.

Penny Lane cocktail by Michael Lay at Faith & Flower

Penny Lane cocktail by Michael Lay

Guests were welcomed with a pair of cocktails from Faith & Flower head bartender Michael Lay. The consensus favorite of the two was the excellent Penny Lane: No. 3 London Dry Gin, Maurin White Vermouth, Combier Crème de Pamplemousse Rose, lemon and Absinthe Duplais. Lay’s other offering was the Autumn Buck, made with Glenrothes Select Reserve, Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur, citrus and ginger.

The whisky was paired with multiple courses of chef Michael Hung’s Asian-inflected cuisine, including New York steak tartare with miso cream and black sesame; confit duck leg with peaches and watercress soubise; seared steelhead trout with chioggia beets, cucumber, and caraway bread sauce; and grilled broccolini with garlic anchovy salsa and California chilies. Pastry chef Indelisa Zarate concluded the tasting in style with an array of mignardises – chocolates, passion fruit marshmallow, honeycomb candy, petite madeline, almond biscotti and chocolate truffle.

Looking dapper as always, Cox enlivened the evening with anecdotes on everything from the higher life expectancy of West Londoners compared to East Londoners, to the origin of the word “butler” – from the Old French botellier, or “officer in charge of the king’s wine bottles.” With seven generations of whisky distilling in his family, Cox certainly has no shortage of tales to tell. His own story with Berry Bros. & Rudd began in 1989, when he was brought on board to look after Cutty Sark in Latin America. (The Glenrothes is the backbone of the Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse Scotch blends.)

The Glenrothes Core Vintages

The Glenrothes 1995, 1998 and 2001 vintages. | Photo courtesy of The Glenrothes, via Facebook

The vertical tasting began with the Vintage 2001, bottled in 2012 and described by Cox as “complex integrity in a glass.” On the nose there’s lemon zest, butterscotch and vanilla. The vanilla continues on the palate, as well as oak, nutmeg and cinnamon. The finish offers the Speyside distillery’s signature soft spices – sweet and dry, lingering vanilla and oak, with a hint of orange peel.

Next was the 1998, the Core Vintage that followed the 1991 and 1994 vintages. Bottled in 2009, the Vintage 1998 is Gordon Motion’s first bottling as Malt Master – he describes the 1998 as “Carmen Miranda’s hat in a bottle.” Indeed, the sweet and spicy nose showcases vanilla, honey and grilled pineapple. More vanilla on the palate, with Christmas spices and citrus. The finish is long, with notes of vanilla, nutmeg and a hint of marmalade.

Cox said the Vintage 1995 was the first Glenrothes expression made from casks specifically laid down with the intention of bottling the whisky as Glenrothes at maturity. Previous vintages were selected from existing casks. The Vintage 1995 is made with 30% first-fill sherry casks (American and Spanish oak) and the remainder from refill casks. The floral nose gives butterscotch, allspice and hints of chocolate and coffee. The 1995 is rich and textured on the palate, with vanilla, maple syrup and dried fruit notes. The sweet and spicy finish is warm and lingering. It’s a wonderfully rich, sweet and balanced whisky – as Cox says, it’s ideal for an after-dinner dram, when “the conversation is in full flow.”

And then it was time for a climactic dram of The Glenrothes 1992 Vintage, 2nd Edition. As mentioned above, the second edition is aged 10 years longer than its predecessor. The 1992 Vintage, 2nd Edition is non-chill filtered and aged in a mixture of refilled sherry butts and American ex-bourbon hogsheads. The new expression is bottled at 44.3% ABV, compared to 43% for the three Core Vintages that were also sampled.

The additional decade of aging has imparted a rich depth of character to the second edition. Vanilla, dark coffee and chocolate on the nose hint at the velvety mouthfeel to follow. On the palate, an elevated Glenrothes profile of rich vanilla and intense spice is accompanied by molasses, honey and orange peel. The lingering finish has a long fade, with more vanilla, citrus and milk chocolate. A few drops of water opens it up with hints of banana and other tropical fruit. The Glenrothes 1992 Vintage, 2nd Edition is a superb whisky, the epitome of the thoughtful, “conversational” single malt Scotch that Cox so eloquently described to his guests.

Priced at $249.99, The Glenrothes 1992 Vintage, 2nd Edition is now available in the U.S. via Anchor Distilling Company. For more information, visit www.glenrothes.com.

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Highland Park Adds Dark Origins to Its Range of Core Expressions

Highland Park Dark Origins

Inspired by its infamous founder, Highland Park has added a new whisky to its acclaimed range of core expressions. Dark Origins launched in the U.S. on Oct. 1, 2014 and will roll out internationally throughout the fall. This new permanent expression is a non-chill filtered single malt that’s bottled at an ABV of 46.8%. Highland Park touts the use of twice as many first fill sherry casks in Dark Origins as the Highland Park 12-year, for a “naturally darker, richer flavour.” As with the whiskies of the Highland Park Warrior Series – six single malts named for legendary Nordic figures, available exclusively in the travel retail sector – Dark Origins carries no age statement.

Dark Origins is an homage to Highland Park founder Magnus Eunson, a beadle (lay church official), butcher and smuggler in Orkney who, according to lore, also illegally distilled the whisky that would one day be known as Highland Park Single Malt Scotch. The breathless copy on the blacked-out Dark Origins packaging casts Eunson in the role of an Orcadian Batman, even if the stylized hooded figure looks more like the CW’s Arrow:

Establishing a secret bunker in the hills of High Park in Orkney, Magnus “Mansie” Eunson became a famed dark distiller back in the late 1700s, creating whisky for the people of Orkney to offer relief from the villainy of the tax collector. By day he worked tirelessly in his church providing spiritual guidance to the people of Orkney, but in the dead of night, he hand-crafted what was to ultimately become the best spirit in the world, warming hearts and uniting all who tasted it.

The Dark Origins bottle is the first Highland Park core expression with this black-and-silver design, which echoes the Orcadian Vintage Series and is starker than the Ragnvald and Thorfinn black bottles from the Warrior Series.

 

Last month, a group of writers was invited to sample Dark Origins at The Varnish in Downtown L.A. The event was hosted by Highland Park’s Brand Ambassador USA and Asia Pacific, Martin Daraz and Highland Park Brand Manager, Stephanie Ridgway. Guests were virtually transported to the Highland Park distillery in Kirkwall with an interactive presentation that included sherry cask shavings and Orcadian peat, which was lighted and then filled the Downtown speakeasy with a marvelous aroma.

In his remarks, Daraz wryly noted that Highland Park has been “officially” making whisky since 1798, but gave a nod to the company’s “dark origins” by acknowledging Eunson’s illicit activities. Daraz also compared Orkney to Texas – just as the Lone Star State has its own culture and is still part of America, Orcadians are Scottish and yet unique. Norwegian settlers arrived in the Orkney Islands in the late 8th and early 9th centuries – the Viking influence can still be seen in landmarks and the majority of Orcadian place names. In addition to the Warrior Series, Highland Park pays tribute to this heritage with the Valhalla Collection, an ongoing series of limited annual releases named for the Norse gods Thor, Loki and the goddess Freya.

As with all Highland Park whiskies, no caramel coloring is used in Dark Origins. The first fill sherry casks that give Dark Origins its dark amber color make themselves known immediately on the nose, along with milk and dark chocolates, dried fruit and a whisper of smoke. On the palate, there’s a surprising bit of heat that accompanies cherry, chocolate, Christmas spices and floral peat. The long finish is sweet and dry, offering chocolate, orange peel and gentle smoke. A few drops of water opens up Dark Origins to even more fruit and spice while rounding off the velvety mouthfeel. Simply put, it’s a superb whisky that will appeal to longtime Highland Park fans and newcomers alike.

Priced at $79.99, Dark Origins is a worthy permanent addition to the Highland Park range of core expressions. With its striking blackout design, Dark Origins will be a perfect gift bottle for that Caped Crusader, goth or L.A. Kings whisky fan in your life. For more information, visit highlandpark.co.uk.

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