Perhaps no one person’s legacy is as entwined with that of a whisky distillery as David C. Stewart and the Balvenie. The distillery was founded in 1892 by William Grant, who a few years earlier had built the neighboring Glenfiddich distillery. But the Balvenie’s history as we know it really begins in 1962, when Stewart began his employment there. 55 years later, Stewart, known as malt master by the brand since 1974 and as MBE (Member of the British Empire) by the Queen since 2016, shows no signs of slowing down. In recent years, however, he’s begun to consider his legacy. Rather than write an autobiography, he’s decided to curate his career through The DCS Compendium, a collection of 25 exclusive Balvenie whiskies divided into five “chapters,” each with its own theme. The most noteworthy whisky of the group is the oldest Balvenie ever released, a 55-year-old that was distilled in June, 1961 — a year before Stewart’s tenure began. Poor and Shelby, in New York last week for the launch of the Christie’s auction, said they first met at The Balvenie distillery in Dufftown Scotland four years ago when the first chapter was released. The two collectors were among six Americans and six Taiwanese given an opportunity to buy the set, spending a couple days with Stewart and Kirsten Grant Meikle, the great, great granddaughter of the company founder, William Grant. 40,000 apiece. Christie’s is auctioning the fourth chapter—with whiskies distilled in 1971, 1982, 1992, 1999, and 2009— during its current online wine and spirits sale. Included in the sale is a buttercream-colored, handcrafted Morgan V8 roadster, said to be inspired by the famed whisky, and a tour of the distillery. The entire lot, which will be offered until 10 a.m. 80,000 hasn’t been made as of Tuesday morning, Oct. 2., but Christie’s says most bidding for online auctions happens just before the close. The two American collectors are among a network of collectors worldwide who get the right of first refusal to buy special bottles, like the DCS Compendium.
Knob Creek delivers a bold pour in its standard 100 proof bottling and cranks up the proof for its 120 proof single barrel variant. This leaves Baker’s trying to slot in proof-wise between the standard bottling of Knob Creek and the Single Barrel offering. This all brings me back to its age statement. Without it, one really would just scratch their head and ask why they don’t skip this line all together or just bottle another variant of Knob to cover this range. Until that time happens (if ever) the seven years age statement does help differentiate it among its peers. Until recently Baker’s was an overall poor value in the Small Batch Collection. 40 and you could get a bottle of Booker’s for a few dollars more. 100 price point, and Knob no longer contains an age statement, the price becomes a little more justifiable when comparing it amongst its Small Batch Collection brethren. That said, the market isn’t comprised of just Small Batch Collection bottles. Japan, which is the largest market in Asia for Irish whiskey, grew by 15.6 per cent last year, albeit from a low base. William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association, said China in particular could be a huge market for its members. “Asia represents one of the biggest engines for growth for Irish whiskey over the next five to 10 years . China is very small but we think that it is ripe for an explosion and we have no reason to believe that it couldn’t see meteoric growth,” he said. Irish whiskey is currently the fastest growing premium spirit in the world with sales growing at more than 10 per cent a year in more than 75 countries. Just under half of all Irish whiskey produced is exported to the United States. Ms Murphy said while there is still plenty of market share to be gained there, the reliance on the US economy is not ideal given how volatile the current political administration there is. “There are huge opportunities but massive threats as well, particularly in China, where copycat brands are an issue,” said Ms Murphy. Mr Lavelle said China was one of more than 30 markets for growth the association has identified, of which many are in Asia. “But because of the rapid increase of the middle classes and their demand for premium products we believe the strong double-digit growth we have seen in Asia over the last three years is just the beginning. We are going to be at this for a long time but the potential rewards are significant,” he added.
Ambitious to a fault, Batch 2 is swinging for the fences. I may be in need of my own tun for mixing any further metaphors. 500 per 750 ml bottle depending on availability. Appearance: Noticeably darker in hue than Batch 2. Deep amber tones with fine, silky legs. Nose: Not as abrasive off the pour as Batch 2. Cinnamon rolls with buttercream icing, mandarin oranges, raisins, followed shortly by a subtle charred oak and the slightest hint of cigar smoke. The layers here segue flawlessly. Loads of cinnamon toast, spiced plums, mandarin orange, golden raisin, ginger candy, and soft wisps of pipe smoke. Though the alcohol by volume on this batch is slightly higher than on Batch 2, the finish is far more rounded and full without providing nearly as much of a bite. Notes of rich toffee lingering long after the swallow. Batch 3 is an absolute ripper from The Balvenie. This dram delivers a fully-formed experience that highlights the flexibility which skillful cask blending offers. There is a level of finesse in Batch 3 that takes the greatest themes of Batch 2 and polishes them to a mirror shine. If this were a regular release, my personal bottle would never run dry. Should you find you are lucky enough to be eyeing this label in person, do yourself a solid and give it a spin. I find it hard to imagine that it could disappoint. Editor’s Note: Samples of these whiskies were provided to us by those behind them. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, keeps full independent editorial control over this article.
Also a quarter of all our apprentices are female, which is fantastic. The number is increasing and set to continue to do so. Why is Islay so special for Scotch whisky production? Islay Scotch is iconic – the peaty flavours are recognisable worldwide and immediately transport the drinker to Islay. Everything about Islay is special, from the sea, to the people, to the landscape. Islay is a very fertile island; barley and peat naturally live here so it was a natural fit for our ancestors. How did it feel to be involved with Lagavulin’s 200th anniversary special releases and celebrations? I feel so honoured. As well as the 8 Year Old and Lagavulin 1991, we also launched Lagavulin 25 Year Old, which is a special recognition of the contribution the Lagavulin distillery managers have made crafting the whisky over the years. I feel proud to be part of that legacy. The CCC, which assumed authority over the medical market in December, declined to comment on this story. However, other states offer some evidence that suggests medical activity will fall as recreational sales grow. In Colorado, recreational sales started in January 2014 and the number of medical patients has since decreased 23.2 percent to 85,207 in November. Medical marijuana sales, meanwhile, have also fallen while recreational sales have skyrocketed. Shannon Gray, marijuana communications specialist with the Colorado Department of Revenue, confirmed the trends, but declined to speculate why sales were moving in one way and another. “We have seen (recreational) sales increase relatively steadily and medical sales have plateaued,” she said. In Oregon, which has a similar marijuana tax structure to Massachusetts, the relationship between recreational sales and medical activity looks similar to Colorado. Recreational sales first started in 2015 and the number of new and renewed medical card applications has since declined quickly, according to data compiled by the state . Of course, there’s no certainty the same trend will play out in Massachusetts. And because each state establishes its own regulatory framework, it’s possible no two states will look alike in five or 10 years. For many in the industry, there’s confidence the medical market will be doing just fine.
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