I attended Whiskies of the World in San Francisco this April and made a few discoveries. Here are some notes.
- Exclusive Malts (and independent bottler new to the US) Littlemill 1988 24 year old was terrific.
- Mezcalero mezcal batch #7, which will be out soon, uses three different agaves. It is delicious.
- Gordon and MacPhail Old Puteney 21 Year Old was terrific, and Old Pulteney's own 21 and 30 year old expressions were a treat as always.
- Samaroli is an Italian independent bottler of both rare rums and scotch whiskies. I tied a Bunnahabhain and a Caol Ila that were both excellent. They brought some rums to sample but someone stole the box!
- Willett Rye - I've had this before and like it a lot but didn't realize that it's the only rye on the market that is charcoal-filtered in the Tennessee whiskey style.
Kavalan Single Malt is made in Taiwan and aged in various full-sized casks. They have one aged in an ex-fino sherry cask that I didn't get to try, unfortunately, but I did try another aged in a wine barrel that was really juicy. I also tried a bourbon cask-aged whisky. While it's not the greatest whisky I've tried by a long shot, it is really impressive as t is only four years old but it tastes far superior to most products of its age. Dr. Jim Swan, who helped develop the product, said that they get all the barrel interaction they need after about three years, but then keep it in wood (somehow sealed to have no more angel's share and no more wood interaction) for another year for labeling reasons. I think he said the angel's share was above 10% and despite the hot weather they don't temperature control their warehouses; they just distill it differently to accommodate its fast aging. Fascinating.
Lost Spirits Distillery is doing some crazy shiz. They are making American single malts in Monterey and peating it up to 110 ppm phenol with Canadian forest peat, and then aging in various wine casks. They taste pretty young but the peat is wild- I'd call it swampy, even. The distiller said, "We get as much hate mail as fan mail."
Tomatin is a Highland single-malt that made a big impression and ended up being a topic of discussion for a bunch of us. It's tasty scotch on its own, but what impressed us more is that it is very reasonably priced - the 30 year old can be found for $250. This is definitely a brand to watch.