OLD & RARE:
Hunter Laing’s are private bottlers of some of Scotland’s finest and rarest whisky. While they bottle various casks from distilleries across Scotland, the Old & Rare expressions, are considered their top-tier bottlings. It is said that each sip of whisky from the Old & Rare range must be savoured but done so with a little sorrow, due to the fact that such a taste cannot be exactly replicated again. This rare Mortlach is one of only 120 bottles drawn from a sherry butt and bottled at a cask strength. It was distilled in September 1992 and bottled in November 2014.
On the nose: Is an intense sweet flavour of pear drops, strawberry sherbet, butterscotch and a lovely note of lemon cheesecake. This is nicely followed by marzipan, liquorice, toasted oats, vanilla and an unexpected smoky aroma. Rounding off the nose is dried fruits, currants and nutmeg, giving you an overall note of Christmas cake.
On the palate: You’ll experience more of the dried fruit notes than the sweet notes of the strawberry sherbet. Spicy notes of black pepper and smoke are more predominant, followed by a more subdued note of pear drops, lemon zest, butterscotch and liquorice.
The finish: Is long, dry, spicy, with lingering oak and smoke.
This Mortlach 22-year-old expression from Hunter Laing’s is very rich in flavour with some of the most delightful notes on the nose. However, when it comes to the palate, it’s much harder to appreciate without a drop of water, which in my opinion really does balance this dram out. While it is still palatable at cask strength, it definitely doesn’t taste as good without water.
INFO: ABV 56.8% in a 70cl bottle
RARE & FINE
Every now and then a watch brand is raised from its ashes. H. Moser & Cie was a victim of the quartz crisis that rocked the Swiss watchmaking industry but in 2005 H. Moser & Cie returned to Schaffhausen, where a new manufactory was built. However, the one thing that has been most noted was the slogan used to interpret their timepieces “Very Rare.” Others may view this as an overshot of confidence but that very slogan couldn’t be more true.
When introduced in 2013 the H.Moser & Cie Endeavour Dual Time raised eyebrows, in a very good way. The Endeavour Dual Time is classical in design, with simplicity at its core. The dial is a clean and uncluttered affair. You’ll see the dial is rather sparse but it displays everything you’ll need to know. At 6 o’clock is the running seconds sub dial, with a neat little day/night indicator at 12 and the party piece of the Endeavour sits under the hour hand. This Dual Time function is activated using the crown to skip the hour-hand forward or backwards depending on your destination or location.
The case measures 40.8mm in diameter and is offered in both rose-gold and platinum, fixed to the wrist by a hand- stitched alligator leather strap. The Endeavour Dual Time is equipped with H. Moser’s first ever automatic winding calibre HMC 346, which is a rather large 34mm movement. The rotating weight bears H. Moser & Cie’s, however, its size does allow for a 72-hour power reserve. Nonetheless, the movement is meticulously finished with attention to detail, befitting Moser’s slogan.
THE BALVENIE 25 SINGLE BARREL & LUDIC BALLOUARD UPSIDE DOWN
The Balvenie unveiled the latest addition to its Single Barrel range with the launch of this 25-year-old single malt. Matured exclusively in traditional American oak casks; those that have already been used to mature Scotch whisky. Created by Malt Master David Stewart, he only selects casks for bottling that have the character he expects of Balvenie matured for 25 years exclusively in American oak, subtle spices and rich honeyed sweetness. However, no two casks will ever produce an identical single malt. As such, the single malt from each cask of Single Barrel Traditional Oak Aged 25 Years is unique and no more than 300 bottles will be filled from any one cask. This is reflected on the bottle label – hand numbered and carrying the distillation date, bottling date and cask number in which the whisky was matured.
On the nose: You’ll be welcomed with sweet notes of green apples, toffee and oranges. Notes of honey will start to emerge followed by a waft of vanilla. Some spicy notes of cinnamon and cloves will start to appear, giving the dram a Christmas pudding note making it just right for this time of the year.
On the palate: It is sweet but this will come from the honey and orange nose, followed by a velvety creamy texture. Those notes of vanilla will start to emerge followed by those spicy notes of cinnamon. There is a beautiful meaty note kicking around in there too, with a hint of zest and fennel seed.
The finish: Is long, sweet, with lingering oak.
The Balvenie Single Barrel Traditional Oak 25 Year Old is literally Christmas in a dram! So well-balanced and consistent from nose to finish. In my opinion this is the best expression from the Balvenie single barrel range. The Balvenie Single Barrel Traditional Oak Aged 25 Years is a non chill-filtered release with an ABV of 47.8%. A drop that didn’t need any water – though if you do need to then only add a very small amount. If you don’t feel the urge to add any water then allow the scotch to breathe for no more than 5 minutes just to open up the nose and palate a bit more.
INFO: ABV 47.8% in a 70cl bottle
Not often does someone come along and revolutionise the watchmaking industry. However, to say Ludovic Ballourd’s Upside Down timepiece is one of them, is a bit of an understatement.
Ludovic Ballouard’s Upside Down timepiece heralds a completely new way to indicate the time by astonishingly rotating individual hour numbers on cue. While the idea of indicating the time by having the correct hour right side up, while the other 11 display numbers upside down, is relatively simple in thought. However, the fact it has never been done until now, reminds us that it is indeed no easy feat.
When the minute hand precisely reaches the 12 o’clock position, the past hour number instantaneously turns 180 degrees upside down. Simultaneously, the new hour turns right side up. The rotation of these two tiny hour disks is faster than the eye can follow, and by using Maltese crosses to control the rotation mechanisms, time-keeping precision is not affected.
This ingenious movement is housed in a 41 mm 950 platinum case. However, rather than the straightforward vertical sides or slightly outward curves commonly found in timepieces, the case sides of the “Upside Down” curve slightly inwards. Also, the platinum crown – another unusual feature of the “Upside Down” as the majority of platinum watches have white gold crowns for ease of manufacture – is unconventionally placed but is protected by sleek guards on either side. The Upside Down is seemingly fixed to the wrist by a hand-stitched alligator strap with matching metal pin buckle.
GLEN GARIOCH 1978 & JAEGER-LECOULTRE
Three centuries old and still going strong, which is quite an achievement for a small Aberdeenshire distillery on the road between Banff and Aberdeen. Founded in 1797, the Glen Garioch (pronounced glen-geerie) distillery only started producing single malt in the early 1970’s. Glen Garioch was much more popular amongst blenders, which is what helped the distillery survive the long years between. This Glen Garioch expression is bottled at cask strength from North American Oak and has been quietly maturing at the distillery since 1978. This sophisticated expression was hand selected by The Whisky Shop in October 2011.
On the nose: You’ll experience sweet notes of dried fruits, vanilla and an abundance of peppery spices, cinnamon and oak. This is closely followed by notes of a nutty nature, herbs, tobacco and dark chocolate. Rounding off the nose are light notes of peaches, stem ginger, musk and a waft of demerara sugar.
On the palate: It is a little dry in texture but those sweet notes of dried fruits are ever-present, followed by vanilla, tonnes of oak, toffee and dark chocolate. There is a lovely leathery note floating around in there, alongside tobacco, cinnamon, spices, almonds and a hint of liquorice.
The finish: Is long, sweet and peppery, with lingering oak.
Glen Garioch have a long history of making top quality scotch, whether it is for their own needs or the need of others. This hand selected single cask Scotch whisky is something rather special. It has a lot of rich flavours with a lot of depth that has been well-married and nicely balanced. While the ABV percentage is quite high, to really enjoy it you have to try it neat.
INFO: ABV 51.7% in a 70cl bottle
Jaeger-LeCoultre are no strangers to creating complicated timepieces but what Jaeger strive for is complexity and elegance, these two traits are more than noticeable in the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar wristwatch. Jaeger- LeCoultre have united their endeavours in creating an extremely slim mechanism equipped with a complete calendar, with an arrangement that is simplistic and elegant, yet still legible.
The Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual features the same pure design, which combine classical elements with the aesthetic inspiration of the Grande Maison. The clear and distinctive layout makes reading Master Ultra-Thin easy and avoids any confusion. In addition to the hour, minute and central seconds hands, it comprises three counters dedicated to the perpetual calendar displays: the first at 9 o’clock for the day of the week; the second at 3 o’clock for the date; and the third at 6 o’clock for the month. Jaeger- LeCoultre’s distinctive signature appears below the moon phase. In addition to this comprehensive range of information, a perpetual calendar function must also indicate the current year, and on the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual, a full four-digit display appears through a small aperture at 7 o’clock, which controls the leap year function.
Beating away at the heart of the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual is the newly, in-house, designed calibre 868, which boasts 38-hours of power reserve and measures a mere 4.72 mm in thickness that enables the timepiece to be so thin. Measuring just 39 mm in diameter and 9.2 mm thick. While the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual comes in three other variations this newly released stainless steel, black sunburst dial variation, is just pure simple sophistication, with subtle but noticeable elegance.
Photography: Christopher Beccan