Ronnie's Reserve

Words by Simon Difford

The affable Ronnie Cox is both a well-known personality and something of a legend in the Scotch whisky industry where he has represented Berry Bros. & Rudd for over 30 years. Now "edging towards retirement," Berry Bros. asked Ronnie to select his seven favourite casks from their extensive reserves from four decades of production from one very notable but unnamed Speyside single malt distillery.

Ronnie is the 7th generation of the Cumming family of whisky distillers and his family owned Cardhu distillery in Moray before his great-great Grandmother sold it to Johnnie Walker. His over 40-year career in the export side of the whisky industry has led to him travelling the world as a Scotch whisky evangelist, much of this time representing one very notable Speyside distillery. It is from this distillery that the whiskies below originate. Although that distillery cannot be named, anyone who has met Ronnie over the past 20 years will immediately know the distillery in question, a single malt distillery in Rothes, Speyside founded in 1897.

The range is available to buy in-store and online from Berry Bros & Rudd.



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Ronnie's Reserve 1995
Cask No. 12040
Cask type: Refill sherry hogshead bottled 2019
Alc./vol. 53.2%
No. bottles: 210
RRP: £175
Ronnie says:"1995 was when we first started laying down casks to our specification. Knowing that 1st fill sherry casks' European Oak would dominate the spirit we used many refill sherry casks of both European and American wood sources. Delightful surprises emerged of which this is a supreme example. The refill sherry hogshead has the great benefit of gently imbuing the spirit with some woodiness, but their major contribution lies in the softening and enhancing of the fruity characteristics of this distillery spirit. I chose this one as being of readily recognisable characteristic of this distillery whilst delivering both in aroma and taste a total harmony of fruits and light spices, of course, being the very best in its class."
We say: A nose with boot polish, sticky toffee pudding, zesty lemon and custard cream biscuits leads to a gingerbread spiced palate with vanilla fudge, toffee and lemon zest. This delicious malt finishes with toffee fudge and white chocolate.
Difford's rating 4.5/5



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Ronnie's Reserve 1992
Cask No. 4597
Cask type: Refill hogshead bottled 2019
Alc./vol. 51.75%
No. bottles: 67
RRP: £250
Ronnie says:"The '90s heralded some serious study of cask types for maturation. As a result, more sherry casks were put to the spirit of this distillery than has been the case before. What came from these casks at 11 or 12 years was loved in France and Germany (where spirits were largely consumed without the addition of water) but not quite so popular in more established markets of Japan or the US. We realised that not only did this distillery take longer to mature spirit but that the Spanish Oak sherry cask tannin would dominate the American Oak casks - particularly refills – were those which combined sympathetically with the spirit. Now 27 years old this refill bourbon cask is at its best and receives full marks in my notebook as an outstanding example of its era."
We say: This cask was apparently a leaker, hence the limited number of bottles. A fruity nose with white flower floral notes and hints of ginger cake leads to a sweet fruity palate with rich sherry, plum jam, lemon. Water reveals appealing floral notes.
Difford's rating 4.5/5



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Ronnie's Reserve 1989
Cask No. 10415
Cask type: Refill bourbon barrel bottled 2019
Alc./vol. 54.0%
No. bottles: 114
RRP: £500
Ronnie says:"The 1980s heralded the varied application of computer technology and at the same time the functioning of a new still-house with an increased number of stills. Fermentation times were shortened; distillers yeast became the norm and experiments were being run with barley varieties. All this had the benefit of consistency and production efficiency and left little to chance. Generally, this distillery produced a different style of whisky then, still elegant but fruitier in style with stellar evidence of malted barley. The filling cask policy of those days was slightly haphazard and for the selection of single casks for Single Malt bottlings great care had to be taken. This one is stellar and epitomises the best characteristics of this distillery in that debate, which is why of course I chose it."
We say: 1989 was a special year for Ronnie as this is when he moved from a larger company to Berry Bros. to represent Cutty Sark Whisky. A nose of dark honey, nougat, white chocolate (and with water, citrusy fruitcake) leads to a beautifully balanced palate with refreshing lemon sherbet and fruitcake. The long finish reveals more fruitcake, barley water and zesty citrus.
Difford's rating 5/5



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Ronnie's Reserve 1979
Cask No. 5454
Cask type: Refill American oak sherry cask bottled in 2019
Alc./vol. 49.9%
No. bottles: 196
RRP: £1,000
Ronnie says:"The 1979 was an extraordinary Vintage and we were lucky that this cask hadn't at that stage, reached its peak of maturity so that now many years later, we can enjoy the result. It's one of the very best of its age."
We say: Distilled in the 100th year of this distillery. An orchard fruity palate with delicate spice leads to a honeyed palate with faint sherry and delicious rich vanilla.
Difford's rating 5/5



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Ronnie's Reserve 1975
Cask No. 10619
Cask type: Refill hogshead bottled 2019
Alc./vol. 45.5%
No. bottles: 166
RRP: £1,500
Ronnie says:"This one is quote exceptional coming from a refill hogshead which take much longer to mature but preserve the character of the distillery so much better. This one I've been 'looking after' for many years. Since it was 20 years old this was a 'cracker' and now a supreme champion!"
We say: A tropical fruity nose, particularly passion fruit with barley water and white chocolate leads to a rich and fruity palate with sweet tropical fruit, marmalade citrus and chocolate biscuit. Incredibly complex.
Difford's rating 5+/5



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Ronnie's Reserve 1969 "Curriculum Vitae"
Cask No. 16202
Cask type: Refill hogshead bottled in 2019
Alc./vol. 46.3%
No. bottles: 122
RRP: £3,600
Ronnie says:"Curriculum vitae translated literally is the story of my life and covers my lifelong association with Scotch whisky; I can think of a no more appropriate name for this delicious expression."
We say: Water amplifies barley water and dried fruits on an apricot and citrus nose. The palate is incredibly fresh and fruity for a whisky of such age with tropical fruit, zesty citrus and nutty notes.
Difford's rating 5+/5



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Ronnie's Reserve 1968 "Tempus Fugit"
Cask No. 13497
Cask type: Refill hogshead bottled in 2019
Alc./vol. 51.6%
No. bottles: 65
RRP: £3,800
Ronnie says: "This Latin expression, represents a truism of the past 50 years of my life. The early days were happy, carefree and, in many ways, reflect the craft of the distiller in the 1960s and '70s. The gentle, unrushed whisky-making process left perfection to Mother Nature and Father Time. All that I have done is to stop the whisky slumbering and allow others to benefit."
We say: A woody nose with slightly funky rotting pineapple and cut grass leads to a dry yet soft and fruity palate with citrus freshness. Long zesty finish with tropical fruit.
Difford's rating 5+/5

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