1 Ardbeg Kelpie Whisky
Every year, Ardbeg Distillery releases a brand new whisky at its annual Ardbeg Day celebration, a festival celebrating the distillery’s rich, 200-year-old history. This year, as homage to the sea surrounding its location on the remote Scottish Islay coast, Ardbeg presents the limited-edition Ardbeg Kelpie Whisky (£399.95). Named for the legendary water demon that lurks in the sea just off the coast of Islay, Ardbed Kelpie is the first Ardbeg to be matured in virgin oak from the Black Sea coast.
The whisky is then married with hallmark Ardbeg, and matured in old bourbon barrels to emphasise Ardbeg’s traditional style and provide more depth to the whisky. Presenting a colour of burnished gold, Ardbeg Kelpie boasts an array of different aromas such as a powerful, oily peat, dark chocolate, smoked fish, hints of seaweed, and a curious, sharp herbal note as well as the traditional Ardbeg scent of creamy coffee, smoked fudge and pine resin. Ardbeg’s Kelpie whisky finishes with deep flavours of clove, tar, and rich toffee.
2 Glenmorangie Bacalta
For the eighth consecutive year, Glenmorangie has released a new limited-edition whisky, and 2017’s Glenmorangie Bacalta (RPP £79) is sure to be a favourite among whisky experts. Scots Gaelic for ‘baked’, Balcalta is the first Glenmorangie whisky to be finished entirely in sun-baked Malmsey Madeira casks.
As a personal project of Dr Bill Lumsden, the distillery’s director, the process to create the Glenmorangie Balcalta began more than 20 years ago. The casks used to finish the whisky, were made from tightly-grained, air-seasoned American oak staves that were heavily toasted to ensure the finest flavours. The casks were then seasoned to Dr Bill’s exact specifications and baked to maturity within the casks as they lay in the heat of the Madeira sun for two years.
After arriving at the distillery in the Scottish Highlands, the now-empty casks were filled with a Glenmorangie whisky, already matured in ex-bourbon barrels, to create the Glenmorangie Bacalta. which has delicious aromas of ripe apricots, white chocolate and mineral notes. It also brings to mind the taste of mint toffee, baked fruits, honeycomb, almonds and dates, marzipan, white pepper and melon, with a rich, syrupy finish.
3 Balcones Baby Blue
A Texas original (and favourite), Balcones Distilling presents its new whisky of choice, Baby Blue (£49.95 from masterofmalt.com). A relatively newer distillery, Balcones first started out as an idea fuelled by the desire to create something new, genuine and worthwhile. Eight years after opening its doors, Balcones Distilling has released 12 unique products, sold both state-wide and internationally, racking up an impressive portfolio of over 200 awards.
Crafted from 100% roasted heirloom blue corn, a special, regional ingredient, this rich whisky was Texas’ first whisky on the market after the Prohibition. Blue Baby is intentionally youthful with round nuttiness, roasted overtones and refined complexity. The whisky possesses a viscous mouth feel but gives off a soft finish. With it showcasing the flavour and texture of Blue Corn rather than hiding it with heavy, wood flavours, Baby Blue is able to boast a true taste of Texas.