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Distilled – Oldest ever bottling from Maker’s Mark

Our latest round-up of trends from the top shelf, including the release of Maker’s Mark’s oldest bottling, the recipe for a Rob Roy and an explanation of the term ‘angel’s share’.

Golden age of bourbon

Kentucky bourbon producer Maker’s Mark has released its oldest ever bottling. Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged (Alc 59.7%) is a blend of 11- and 12-year-old bourbons that spend their first six years in a traditional warehouse, before being transferred to a limestone cellar for additional ageing. Dynamite-blasted out of a natural limestone shelf in the Kentucky hills, the cellar has a consistently cool temperature that slows maturation. ‘For more than 65 years, ageing our whisky for a decade-plus wasn’t something we did,’ explained whisky-maker Rob Samuels. ‘We hadn’t found a way to do it that didn’t compromise on our taste vision – until now.’ Made from a base of red winter wheat, Cellar Aged will be an annual release, using a different blend each year. The inaugural bottling comprises 87% 12-year-old and 13% 11-year-old bourbons. Aromas of warm cedary oak, baking spices, orange, stone fruit and honey lead to a silky palate, with creamy toffee, spicy cedar and sandalwood, peach, chocolate and ripe Cox’s Orange Pippin apple, that melt into a lingering finish. £145/70cl Berry Bros & Rudd

What is… The angel’s share?

Taken from the French, la part des anges, the angels’ share is a term used to describe the amount of alcohol that evaporates naturally from spirits into the air as they age in barrel. The Cognac barrels exact quantity of the angels’ share varies from spirit to spirit, depending on the conditions in the cellar and the local climate. More water evaporates in a dry cellar, creating a stronger spirit in barrel; in a humid cellar the angels’ share contains more alcohol so the spirit loses alcoholic strength. Evaporation is lower in spirits from cool climates – think 2%-5% per year for Scotch whisky compared with 7%-10% for Caribbean rum.

What to drink now… Rob Roy

Essentially a Manhattan made with Scotch whisky instead of American bourbon, the Rob Roy was reputedly named after a Broadway show about Scottish outlaw and folk hero Robert Roy MacGregor. Two New York bars were linked to the creation of the recipe around 1895. To complicate the story, a cocktail named the Rob Roy and invented by bartender Edward F Barry is mentioned in the New York Sun in 1873, though without recording whether it was made with Scotch. Whoever created it, the Rob Roy is a must-try for Scotch fans. Use Chivas Regal 12 Year Old (Alc 40%, £25-£42/70cl widely available), a smooth blend that’s great value.

Rob Roy

Ingredients: 60ml blended Scotch whisky, 30ml sweet vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters

Glass: Coupe

Garnish: Maraschino cherry (orange zest twist, discarded)

Method: Stir all ingredients with ice in a mixing jar. Strain into a chilled coupe and spritz with orange peel. Discard the orange twist, then garnish.

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