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Two Virgins and a Devil Walk Into a Bar...

Jack Bettridge
Posted: December 13, 2013

The latest cycle of short releases from the company that distributes the Auchentoshan, Glen Garioch and Bowmore Scotch single malts to the United States comprises an innovative selection of wood maturations that include two virgin-oak releases and an all-Sherry-wood release.

Campari America started importing Auchentoshan Virgin Oak Limited Release and Glen Garioch Virgin Oak Small Artisinal Small Batch, as well as Bowmore Devil's Cask Small Release to our shores in November.

The Auchentoshan Virgin Oak arises from Scotland's Lowlands region and pairs that lighter style of whisky with American oak not previously used in any other maturation. Triple-distilled, in the manner of Irish whiskey, the spirit was then placed in new, charred oak barrels. That represents a departure from the usual Scottish style of utilizing casks that previously held other liquid—typically Bourbon, Sherry, or Port. The virgin-barrel technique is similar to the aging process for American straight whiskeys—such as Bourbon, rye and Tennessee sour mash—that by law mature in new barrels exclusively.

The Glen Garioch, a traditional Highlands malt, got much the same treatment. The spirit, however, was double-distilled before resting in new American oak casks. It also skipped the chill-filtration process, which is used to keep whisky from clouding, but is sometimes accused of robbing it of flavor. In the case of both whiskies, the process emphasized the vanilla and caramel characteristics drawn from the wood.


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Auchentoshan Virgin Oak Limited Release retails for $129.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle.


Glen Garioch Virgin Oak Artisinal Small Batch Release carries a suggested retail price of $109.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle.


Bowmore The Devil’s Cask is selling for $89.99 per 750-milliliter bottle.

The Bowmore, on the other hand, spent its maturation cycle in first-fill Sherry casks. They were placed in the very damp conditions of the Islay distillery's famed No. 1 Vaults, which are at sea-level along the island's coast. The name comes from a legend that the devil once visited a local place of worship, called the Round Church as it had no corners in which the devil could hide. As the story goes, the parishioners chased the interloper through the village and down to the Bowmore warehouses. The concept is that the whisky has captured the spirit of the devil. Certainly, its deep color and full body concur with the conceit.

Allocations for the U.S. are small in all cases. The Auchentoshan release is 2,100 bottles, the Glen Garioch 1,038 and the Bowmore 1,302. All are worth the hunt, if you can find a bottle.

(Cigar pairing on page 3)

Auchentoshan Virgin Oak Limited Release (92 proof, or 46 percent alcohol by volume; no age statement; $129.99 a 750-milliliter bottle)

APPEARANCE: Deep amber color with a slight copper. Very slow, medium-width legs.

NOSE: A very spicy aroma of Christmas-like flavors greets the nose. Cinnamon and clove meet nutmeg and a slight touch of allspice. A warming sweetness surrounds the spice with caramel and vanilla.

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