Archive for April, 2009

Highland Park Newsletter

We are confident we make good single malt whisky at Highland Park. Our confidence comes from the knowledge that we adhere to tradition and from the positive comments sent to us by enthusiasts like you.

We tend to do rather well in tastings as well; in fact, we are starting to run out of wall space for our certificates.

The results of this year’s annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition were announced last month. More than 800 spirits were entered from 63 countries.

Highland Park 12 year old won a Silver medal.
Highland Park 15 year old won a Double Gold medal.
Highland Park 18 year old won a Double Gold medal.
Highland Park 25 year old won a Double Gold medal.
Highland Park 30 year old won a Double Gold medal.

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the first comprehensive, international spirits judging ever held in the United States on an annual basis. It was founded in 2000 by Anthony Dias Blue, the Wine and Spirits Editor of Bon Appetit Magazine and Carol Seibert, the Managing Director of the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition continues to grow each year, in size and in reputation. The same could be said of Highland Park…

For more information on the San Francisco World Spirits Competition visit

For more information about the Best Spirit in the World visit

Head of Brand Education, Highland Park

Glendronach, The Richly-Sherried Single Malt, Makes a Spirited Comeback

Sleeping giant to take malt lovers on a journey of re-discovery

WARM, rich oak and sherry sweetness. Deep amber gold. Rich mahogany. Spiced mulled wine and pear. Treacle toffee and chocolate orange. Fruit compote and glacier morello cherries. Walnut cake and mocha. Viscous and syrupy.

An astonishing smorgasbord of complex tastes, colours and character is at the heart of the new GlenDronach portfolio of single malts which are re-launched today (Tuesday April 7) following a £250,000 investment by its new owners, The BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd.

The GlenDronach Distillery in Forgue, Aberdeenshire, is famous for producing richly-sherried single malt whiskies of inimitable and individual character. Today sees three sublime malts – a 12, 15 and 18-year-old – make a welcome re-appearance on the market.

Managing Director and Master Blender Billy Walker was instrumental in awakening the sleeping giant. “This is the beginning of our strategy to re-package and re-launch GlenDronach in markets worldwide. We’ve taken it back to how it was originally, promoting it as one of Scotland’s original sherried whiskies.”

Alan McConnochie
Alan McConnochie

Distillery Manager Alan McConnochie (pictured) said: “Whisky connoisseurs have been waiting patiently for our new core range and it’s exciting for all of us at GlenDronach to be part of bringing this iconic brand back to life. I hope my tasting notes are interesting.

“The classic GlenDronach 12-year-old, a superb, richly sherried single malt, is matured for at least twelve years in a combination of the finest Spanish Pedro Ximinez and Oloroso sherry casks. Non-chill filtered, of natural colour and bottled at 43%, the GlenDronach 12-year-old “Original” is a sweet, creamy dram.

Deep amber-red gold.

Sweet, creamy vanilla, with hints of ginger. Spiced mulled wine and pear.

Rich, creamy, silky-smooth. Warm, rich oak and sherry sweetness, full mouth feel, raisins and soft fruits. Spicy with medium length and a dry finish.

Long, full and firm, slightly nutty.

Renowned amongst many whisky enthusiasts around the world, the GlenDronach 15-year-old full-bodied malt is matured for a minimum of fifteen years in the finest Oloroso sherry casks. Bottled at 46%, the GlenDronach “Revival” is non chill filtered and of natural colour.

Deep gold with a lovely mahogany heart.

Incredible concentration of aromas. Treacle toffee and chocolate orange.

A very dynamic and full bodied dram for its age. Chewy with coffee chocolate and treacle scones.

A veritable feast to enliven the senses.

“And finally the famous GlenDronach 18-year-old, now re-named “Allardice”, is the third expression in the GlenDronach core range. This exceptional single sherried malt is non chill filtered and of natural colour. Matured in the finest Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 46%, this richly sherried malt is truly unforgettable.

Bright deep gold with a tawny centre.

Sweet aromatics of fudge and muscovado sugar. Fruit compote and glacier morello cherries provide added complexity.

Rich dark and seductive. Remarkable flavours of stewed fruits and all-spice marry together with classical aged Oloroso and toasted walnut bread and chocolate orange.

Tremendously complex and long.”

Billy added: “The name “GlenDronach” is Gaelic for “the valley of the brambles” but there’s nothing prickly about our three new releases. All have that distinctive sweet, sherried GlenDronach nose, with subtle hints of chocolate, ginger, autumn fruits and much more.

“And you don’t have to imagine them any longer; you can now taste them for yourself. The sleeping giant has awoken!”

For more information and stockists, visit our new website or call Marketing Manager, Kerry White, on 00441 324 682220.

Kensington Wine Mart – Calgary Alberta Canada

Dear Malt Messenger Subscribers,

More often than not I use the Malt Messenger to be the harbinger of good news. Who doesn’t like hearing about the latest whisky release from Bruichladdich, the return of a rare Ardbeg expression or the latest release of Port Ellen. Unfortunately, a government tax increase on liquor doesn’t fall into this category.

You’ve probably heard about the Alberta Government’s decision, in the latest budget, to raise taxes on alcohol. The changes are expected to raise a further $180,000,000.00 for our government to misspend! Although a government’s decision to increase taxes on liquor is not entirely surprising, the swiftness with which this took effect surprised everyone. Some of our new prices took effect last week and they will continue to do so as new stock is ordered. Unlike some businesses, we will not be preemptively raising our prices; rather we will be adjusting them as new stock comes into the store. In this way we will continue to ensure that our pricing is fair, and that our customers continue to receive excellent value.

Please see below how this tax increase will affect some of our exclusive whiskies and private bottlings. Some of our most popular whiskies will be going up in price, however if you act quickly on our cask of Springbank, the Finlaggans, Benromach Organic or the Ileach Cask Strength you can grab a few bottles before the price goes up.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

Andrew Ferguson

Pre Tax Affected Products

Some of our products will not be affected by the tax increase. The retail price of four of our five in-stock casks will not go up in price because all of the stock is in store. We will continue to offer the following KWM private bottlings at their existing price until stock runs out.

  1. Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 1966 – $499.99 + GST
    • 134 individually numbered bottles half of which have sold.
    • Single Refill Sherry Hogshead, bottled at cask strength.
    • Beautifully packaged in an engraved, glass-fronted, rosewood box.
    • Spicy, sweet and surprisingly gentle for nearly 42 years of age with a slight cocoa/mocha bitterness on the finish.
    • 1/8th the price of most whiskies of this age.
  2. OMC KWM Port Ellen 25Yr – $249.99 + GST
    • 210 individually numbered bottles, less than half of which are left.
    • Single Refill Sherry Butt bottled at cask strength.
    • Closed Islay Distillery 1983
    • Classic Port Ellen: smoky, salty, and peaty balanced with soft sherry notes.
  3. Tullibardine 1987 KWM Cask w/ Glass – $189.99 + GST
    • Only 25 bottles left!
    • Single Refill Sherry Hogshead bottled at cask strength.
    • 191 individually signed bottles.
    • Classic Tullibardine creamy milk chocolate with the sherry notes of Macallan 18Yr.
  4. Evan Williams 1998 KWM Single Barrel Bourbon – $54.49 + GST
    • Only 11 bottles left!
    • 138 total bottles.
    • 1st Ever Private Bottling of Evan Williams in Canada.

Springbank 1996 KWM Manzanilla Cask

Our cask of Manzanilla Sherry Cask of Springbank 1996 is, unfortunately, going to be affected by the tax increase. To date, we have only brought half of the cask in from the Government warehouse. Unfortunately the bottles still in storage with the Government (300 bottles) will be affected by the tax increase. We have spent the last week talking about the fairest way of easing in this price increase and have decided to do the following:

  1. We will sell the remaining 45 in-stock bottles of Springbank 1996 KWM Manzanilla Cask at the pre-tax-increase price of $109.99 + GST.
  2. Once those 45 bottles are sold, we will be increasing the price of the Springbank 1996 KWM Manzanilla Cask to $115.99 + GST, an increase of $6.00.

Our cask of Springbank has been a huge success since we released it in mid February. To date we have sold more than 250 of the 600 bottles! Here is a review of the whisky and its specifics:

“Another first! Kensington Wine Market has become the first store in Canada to bottle its own cask of single malt whisky from Springbank distillery. Released approximately two months ago, the whisky has been flying off the shelved with more than 250 of the 600 bottles sold! If you haven’t tried it yet, you must drop by the store and rectify that. Our friendly staff will be more than happy to pour you a sample!

Springbank is Scotland’s oldest family owned distillery, and has been in the possession of the Wright/Mitchell family since its inception in 1828. It is also Scotland’s most traditional distillery, and accordingly, probably its finest. It is the only distillery in Scotland to malt 100% of its barley and is one of a very few that bottles its whisky on site. This gives the distiller more control over quality than any other in the country, and also means that it employs more people. Even though Springbank’s production is relatively small, it employs 10 times as many people as most distilleries 4 to 5 times its size.

Springbank is located in the Victorian town of Campbeltown near the mull of the Kintyre peninsula. At one point, in the late 19th and early 20th C, the town of Campbeltown was the heart of the Scottish whisky industry, supplying whisky to the burgeoning American market. Its 32 distilleries were only outnumbered by its churches. Distilleries wary of the temperance movement kept empty churches open to keep the movement at bay. Today there are only 3 distilleries in Campbeltown, and many of the old church and distillery buildings have been converted to other uses.

Kensington Wine Market was given the opportunity to purchase a cask of Springbank single malt whisky in the fall of 2008. On September 16th, our “Scotch Guy”, Andrew Ferguson was at the distillery in Campbeltown with a group of 6 whisky enthusiasts from Calgary. With the guidance of Peter Currie and the legendary Frank McHardy, they sampled 5 expressions of 1996 vintage Springbank single malt, each matured in a different type of Sherry cask: Oloroso, Fino, Cream, Manzanilla, and Amontillado. The group unanimously chose the Manzanilla cask.

Cask No. 258 has been bottled exclusively for the Kensington Wine Market at a cask strength of 56.4%. Matured exclusively in a single manzanilla sherry cask, the whisky is surprisingly soft and sweet at its strength, and has a very long finish. The cask yielded 600 bottles, of which more than 250 have sold in the last 2 months. I have also sent a sample of it to Malt Advocate magazine where I expect it will be very well received. The whisky is available only at the Kensington Wine Market for $109.99, and if you’re nice we might even offer you a taste!

Nose: rich and spicy, brown sugar and cedar wood notes give way to fig bars and young Christmas cake. Palate: sweet and spicy with firm tannins, and great depth, this is an after dinner whisky, or at least in need of a juicy steak; toffee cake and dark chocolate notes dominate the late palate with fig-like fruits. Finish: mouth-coating and rich, the finish is long, smooth and full with a rich nuttiness.”

Other KWM Exclusives

Unfortunately, all of our other exclusives whiskies will also have to increase price. While this change is weeks or months away for some products, it is much closer for others. Finlaggan, Finlaggan Cask Strength, Ileach Cask Strength and Benromach Organic will all be going up in price. In theory their price should be going up immediately, however we have decided to offer them at their existing prices until the end of the month, Thursday April 30th. Beginning May 1st the prices of each of these whiskies will be going up by $4-$6 / bottle. We will honour the former prices on all bottles of these four whiskies purchased or ordered prior to midnight Thursday April 30th:

  1. Finlaggan Old Islay Reserve – $49.99
    • Historically our best selling single malt whisky.
    • Distilled at Caol Ila: Layers of Dark Chocolate and Peat
    • 94pts Jim Murray: “If you don’t buy a bottle of this you’ll regret it the rest of your life!”
  2. Finlaggan OId Islay Reserve Cask Strength – $85.99
    • Distilled at Caol Ila: Sweeter, chewyer and richer than the non-cask strength version.
  3. The Ileach Cask Strength – $85.99
    • Jim Murrays 2008 Whisky of the Year Runner Up / 97pts
    • Distilled at Lagavulin: Salty and smoky, with a layer of sweet honey; very smooth.
  4. Benromach Organic – $85.99
    • The world’s first and only certified organic single malt whisky.
    • 91pts Jim Murray
    • Matured in New/Virgin American Oak: Massively buttery, loads of vanilla, sweet, creamy and smooth…
    • Our best selling whisky with women, and the perfect dram to sit on a patio this summer.

You can purchase or order all of these products in-store, over the web at and by phone at 403-283-8000/888-283-9004.

Andrew Ferguson

International Writers Festival’s 7th Annual Single Malt Scotch Whisky Sampling, A Dram Come True

Hello again! I am writing to extend an invitation to you and your fellow Scotch lovers to attend the Vancouver International Writers Festival’s 7th annual Single Malt Scotch Whisky Sampling, A Dram Come True. The event will take place on Friday, June 5th from 7:30-10:00 pm.

A Dram Come True is a fundraiser for the Festival at which you will be able to sample a variety of single malts. There will be approximately 16 Scotches available at 5 tasting bars, and several more in the silent auction. We will also be featuring a selection of fine cigars, a crown and anchor wheel, live jazz, as well as a select few items in a brief live auction at the end of the evening.

We would greatly appreciate it if you would pass this information on to any members who you think might be interested. I have attached the tasting menu and invitation for your convenience. And please let them know that we are encouraging kilt-wearing at the event!

There has been much interest generated around the event this year and we anticipate tickets will go quickly; if you’d like to attend don’t wait to snap one up! Right now, you can do so by phoning us (604.681.6330). Alternately, the ticket order form will be available on our website shortly.

Kind regards,
Clea Young
Writers Services Coordinator
Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival
October 20 – 25, 2009
202-1398 Cartwright Street
Vancouver, BC V6H 3R8
P. 604.681.6330 x105
F. 604.681.8400

Laphroaig April 2009 Update

Well spring has arrived at the distillery – and not a moment too soon. We have had one of the hardest winters I can remember.

However we have been very busy up here on your behalf and there is much to tell you about.

The Laphroaig Museum

Laphroaig has a richer history than perhaps any other distillery so it is only right as we approach our double century that we should create one. It is being built right next to the Friends of Laphroaig lounge and is due to
open at the Feis Ile. You can see a couple of progress shots on the website.

The Laphroaig Shop

Vicky has been incredibly busy and there are some fantastic new products in the online shop. Following our unveiling of our special Laphroaig cheese at last years Laphroaig Live event we have now made it available – but due to restrictions it is I am afraid only available to UK friends. However you can all buy our new chocolates made with either 10 Year Old or Quarter Cask  depending on preference.

I am sure you will recall our Friends of Laphroaig logo competition. Well we have had a huge demand to create a t-shirt with the winning design on it. We decided to make two with both black and white t-shirts. Both come packed in beautifully modified Laphroaig whisky tubes.

There is also a superb new jacket on the website as well. Do look out for a new design of Polo shirts coming soon as well.

Laphroaig 18 Year Old

This is a fantastic new expression that is replacing our venerable 15 Year Old. It is not without shedding a tear or two that I wave goodbye to our multi award winning “15”. I have been to our warehouse in Glasgow and
retrieved the last 65 bottles. For the collectors amongst you I have made 30 available for “Friends” on a first come first served basis.

But frankly the new “18” has a flavour to behold. Not only has it enjoyed the extra 3years sleep, we have bottled it at the higher strength of 48% ABV and thus avoided the chill filtering process. It is absolutely delicious and I hope to have some of the first bottling available for you in a month or two.

Triple Wood

As you can imagine I have had many requests for this new expression. I am afraid that the first bottling was designated for duty free in the one litre size. However the second bottling will occur in late summer and I will make Triple Wood available for you just as soon as I can.

Single Batch 10 Year Old Cask Strength

Those who saw my Christmas broadcast will have heard about the change. Rather than trying to match each batch that is bottled we are going to let each bottling “live” as an individual in its own right. This is I think the
more natural way as each batch is effectively bottled straight from the barrel. This means each bottling will vary but that is all part of single malts. Edition No1 will be bottled shortly and again I hope to make some available to you.

John Campbell

Bowmore 17yo 1991/2008 (55.9%, Dewar Rattray, West Coast Whisky Society, Sherry, C#2058, 206 Bottles)

This exceptional private single cask bottling of Bowmore was specially selected and bottled for the West Coast Whisky Society with a very low outturn of 206 bottles from cask # 2058, a 1st Fill Sherry Butt. It’s a great pity that there weren’t more bottles! The nose is redolent with peat smoke, Christmas fruits, slight hints of coffee, immense chocolate and cocoa and faint maritime in the back ground. The typical Bowmore nose is fully evident and is very reminiscent of the current official bottlings (post FWP). The taste is initially sweet followed by a mouth watering dryness and spice. This is followed by some creaminess and fruit, tar and beach (high tide). The finish is long with the dry notes predominating with some very light floral notes lingering in the back ground. The smoke is layered with a trowel and is an excellent addition to this exceptional dram.

Find a bottle if you can! $110 (Canadian Dollars)

Score: 88 Points

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