Here at The Cask Connoisseur, even though we’re not subscribed to every potential newsletter or source of information, we receive around four hundred emails over the course of a month with various promotions, new release information, distillery newsletter, updates etc. Add on social media posts and that amounts to somewhere well over 1000 pieces of information being reviewed per month. The aim of this monthly round up is to provide a summary of the most interesting bits along with upcoming events that can be gleaned from them. The downside to a monthly review is a lot of “special offers” will have come and gone.
May is an interesting month for whisky fans with the Springbank Festival in Campbeltown, and Feis Ile on Islay occurring in the last week along with one of the two annual World Whisky Days. It is also the month when here in the northern hemisphere thoughts change from heavier peated whiskies to warm yourself with by the fire, to lighter whiskies to enjoy along with the barbeque.
Illustrating the marked differences in the price of a bottle of whisky between “popular” distilleries and those one might describe as “average”, even though the only likely measurable difference is personal taste preference, were two emails that arrived on the same day. One was for a four year old single malt (okay it was “commemorative” and bottled at 60.2% ABV by a distillery) for around £175 and a twenty-four year old single malt (bottled at 54.7% ABV by an independent bottler) for £123. The take home message perhaps is that independent bottlers still provide good value for drinkers.
The “new” Ayrshire “farm” distillery, Lochlea, has released their first cask strength batch at 60.1% ABV for around £63. It is meant to be an annual release and it will be interesting to see what the flippers get at auction. A similar bottle, distilled in 2018 and bottled by a retailer at four years old (currently £125 on their website) fetched £110 in January 2023. If you’re going to bid on a bottle, it is always worth checking if it is still available at retail. If available, retailer prices can be cheaper overall than auction prices particularly if what you are wanting might be a collectable bottle. If not collectable, auctions will often be a cheaper source.
Malts.com (basically an online shop for Diageo distilleries) continues to promote their Malts Club, membership of which is free and currently offers free delivery and you can also accumulate points for free bottles.
Dalmore have released their 2023 vintages. The 18 year old is £315 and the 45 year old comes in at £17,500.
Numerous Feis Ile releases – the annual whisky jamboree on Islay. Several bottles are released by all the Islay distilleries. Historically, these bottles have proven to be a good investment particularly for flippers and those who hold on to bottles for the long term. Hardly surprising given the cost of travelling to Islay, even though if you can stand the crowds the event is well worth it.
Overall whisky prices at auction continue to decline according to whiskystats.com. This continues a decline which started in 2022. Is this the start of a bursting of the “whisky bubble” or just a reflection of current economic conditions?
A continuing trend is for on-line shops to request that you’ve bought a bottle of “something” from them within a time limit, before you can enter ballots for sought after bottles. There is an argument that rather than chasing the cheapest prices, if you want to access opportunities for collectable bottles, you stick to one retailer. This also applies to “traditional” retailers – picking one that can supply your needs best.
Kilchoman is building a rum distillery on Barbados. Does this mean we can expect more rum cask matured whisky from this Islay distillery in the future?
A 14 year old cask strength (64% ABV) Macallan bottled by Signatory is available for £80. Compare that to a standard 12 year old Macallan at £75.
A one of one beautifully designed decanter from Bowmore containing 52 year old whisky sold at Sotheby’s for £187,500 plus commission. It did include an exclusive distillery experience…..
Glengoyne released Teapot Dram 009 (£140, 58.9%ABV). If you’re into sherried cask strength whiskies, this will not disappoint. It does indicate that distilleries are increasing prices, the cost of the Teapot Dram 006 was only £90.
Although unlikely to find any still in the shops the latest Springbank 12 year old cask strength was released at £65-£67. It is a combination of 60% bourbon and 40% sherry casks.
Whiskystats.com report for 2022 has been released. Nothing earth shattering there if you follow monthly whisky auctions. The page of most interest is the distribution curve printed on page 50, discussing the use of the 100 point scale to evaluate whisky on Whiskybase, given the number of whiskies reviewed, this should be a normal distribution (bell shaped), it’s not. This suggests there is something going on – bias or error in reviews. Whiskystats provides a reasonable explanation of why, but here at TCC we’re not so sure. To us it confirms that you should always try before you buy if you can, or at least follow a reviewer who you know likes similar whisky to you.
Some Upcoming Events
3rd June – Whisky An’ A’ That Festival, Ayr Town Hall
24th June – Stoke Whisky Festival, Stoke
1st July – National Whisky Festival, Inverness
9th September – National Whisky Festival, Aberdeen
9th-10th September – Midlands Whisky Festival, Birmingham
22nd September – Cadenhead’s In the Courtyard, Campbeltown. An opportunity to try some special Cadenhead’s bottlings.
4th November – National Whisky Festival, Newcastle
11th November – Glasgow Whisky Festival, Hampden Park, Glasgow
25th November – Drambusters Festival, Dumfries
3rd December – Inverkip Hotel Christmas Market, Inverkip
9th December – National Whisky Festival, Edinburgh
18th May 2024 – Bladnoch Waterfall release day. This is the last release of this series.