Whisky is coming

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This autumn Diageo will release a collection of Game of Thrones-inspired single malts from its stable of distilleries, including Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Cardhu, Royal Lochnagar, Dalwhinnie, Clynelish and The Singleton.

Each bottling is expected to be named after the seven Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms – Stark, Targaryen, Lannister, Tyrell, Bolton, Baratheon and Martell – as well as the Night’s Watch, an army defending The Wall against the wildlings beyond. The eighth and final series of Game of Thrones airs in 2019.

Meanwhile, around the world – literally – Australian whisky distiller Starward is maturing a cask aboard the Cunard cruise ship Queen Elizabeth as she circles the globe, before returning to Melbourne to be bottled and auctioned for charity.

On its 12-month journey, the 225 litre ex-Shiraz French oak barrique, to be known as The Seafarer, has travelled to Japan, Southeast Asia, Cape Town and the UK, and will stop in the US.

Bolted down on top deck, the two-year-old malt will be exposed to changing climates, the motion of the oceans and the salty sea air.

Starward’s founder David Vitale said: ‘It’ll be interesting to see what happens when it returns to the distillery.’

A companion barrel was filled on the same day, and will remain at the Melbourne distillery, to be tasted against The Seafarer on its return.

Back home in Scotland, this month saw World Chocolate Day and a Scallywag Chocolate Edition whisky released by Douglas Laing and Co., said to be ‘dram-packed with decadent notes of rich mocha, caramelised nuts and dark chocolate shavings’.

The 70cl bottles of 2009 vintage blended malt, sold for £50 at the independent bottler’s website, depict the Scallywag fox terrier on a melted chocolate background.

On the West Coast, four remote island distilleries have collaborated with CalMac to form the Hebridean Whisky Trail, connecting Talisker and Torabhaig on Skye, the new Isle of Raasay Distillery, and the community owned Isle of Harris Distillery in Tarbert. CalMac Ferries offers a flexible Hopscotch ticket, valid for 31 days from the date of the first journey, which can be used in either direction along the chosen route.

Bowmore has released the final part of its Vintner’s Trilogy series, which explores the combination of the Islay single malt with ex-wine, sherry and port casks. Last year two were released: a Bowmore 18 year old double matured manzanilla and a Bowmore 26 year old wine matured. Completing the set this year is the 27 year old Bowmore old port cask, which has spent 13 years in ex-Bourbon barrels before being transferred to port pipes for another 14 years.

The Isle of Arran distillery released a 20 year old sherried single malt called Brodick Bay as the first in its Explorer series, replacing its Smugglers series celebrated Arran’s illicit whisky history. Brodick Bay is described as containing notes of ‘creamy toffee’ and ‘treacle-laced fudge’, resulting in ‘a memorable sweetness with rich layers of intense fruit’.

Brodick Bay