Category Archives: Scotch

The 1983 Tasting Series #9: Glenugie

The 1983 tasting series has its penultimate entry in Glenugie.

Glenugie was an unknown for me coming into this tasting. It hasn’t seen a tidal wave of single cask releases a la Port Ellen, or garnered a strong reputation like Brora has on the basis of a few stunning whiskies. I knew Serge at Whiskyfun regards it quite highly; even with critical acclaim on that level, I hadn’t managed to try any. It, like many of the other 1983 closures, is just increasingly rare. There were a few Old Malt Cask bottles floating around, but they were few and far between. When I found a Signatory decanter, I jumped on it.

The Signatory release is somewhat uncommon for Signatory in my experience – instead of a standard single-cask release, this particular Glenugie (cask #2) had 100 months additional finishing in an oloroso cask. “Finishing” seems to be a stretch in this case; at 33 years old, it spent nearly a quarter of its time in wood being finished. However, I won’t launch into a research project (or garden variety rant) on the difference between “secondary maturation” and “finishing” (to say nothing of “finesse”) in this case.

The nose on this Glenugie showed overt sherry influences with light leatheriness, slightly mushroomy earthiness, some white pepper, rich dried fruit – orange and fig – and a surprising hint of madras curry.

The palate is very thick and mouth-coating, with the clear sherry notes again. A little pepper and some heat come in after a moment; but there’s a fair amount of wood and slight nuttiness balancing it, as well as dried fruit.

The finish is nutty and woody but generally sweet with dried fruit and other sherry notes. It dries a little woody and has some apple skin, but is generally big and lasting.

As expected, it’s a big, dense, and generally nicely nuanced sherry character. There’s not much I’d change about this whisky except pulling back the pepper quality a touch.

That being said, where this succeeds as a straight-up sherry bomb, it’s not clear in providing a sense of the distillery character. In that regard, while I enjoyed this on its own merits and as a big sherried whisky, I still don’t feel like I’ve really got a sense of what drives Glenugie. I guess I”ll have to find more to drink in the near future (if it’s available or affordable!)

Coming up next, the 1983 series begins near where it started, as well as some general reflections on the tasting.

At a glance: 

Glenugie 1977 Signatory 33y Cask #2 Oloroso Finish (100 months) – 57.2% ABV
Nose:
  Nice mix of light leather, slight mushroomy earthiness, a little white pepper, some rich dried fruit notes; a little orange, some fig, and believe it or not, a very faint hint of madras curry.
Palate:  Very thick and mouth-coating, clear sherry presence, a little pepper and gaining some heat. Slightly nutty; a reasonable wood presence. A touch of black pepper. Some dried fruit.
Finish:  Nutty and woody, sweet with dried fruit and sherry, dries towards wood with some apple skin. Quite big and lasting.
Comment:  Very dense, nicely nuanced. Very little I’d change except for maybe dialing the pepper back a touch.
Rating: A-

The 1983 Tasting Series #8: Glenlochy

If there was a bottle that was a complete pain to procure for the 1983 tasting series, it had to be Glenlochy. It’s inevitable that some of these old distilleries that produced whisky almost completely for blending purposes would disappear from the independent bottling scene sooner or later, and Glenlochy seems to be fading.

Signatory is the only bottler who seems to bring out bottles with any regularity – the bottle I am reviewing today is a Signatory Vintage decanter; K&L’s exclusive cask is a signatory, and the UK seems to get a slow trickle of Signatory Glenlochy releases. If you think Port Ellen or Brora are the top of the heap, Glenlochy prices will come as a surprise. If you can find one, you are going to pay north of $400 as a resident of the US. Even the route of picking an old Connoisseur’s Choice bottle won’t work: the ones I found were right around $400 with shipping.

This was the last bottle I acquired for the tasting (though not the last in the series) – they weren’t common and were always high in price. I kept waiting for a deal to show up, but in the over two years I watched prices, there wasn’t anything resembling a reasonably priced Glenlochy. My advice if you’ve considered buying a bottle is to just pull the trigger now, because there’s fairly a firm floor at $400 and they’re only going to increase.

This was the second Glenlochy I’ve tried – the first I had was actually the K&L cask, which David OG provided a small sample of at a tasting that included some of their other whiskies. I didn’t take notes on it at the time, but it’s remained a fairly distinct point of reference in the last few months, especially knowing that I’d have another in reasonably short order.

It seems that the history of the Glenlochy distillery is relatively unremarkable – no flaming rivers of whisky that were then consumed by livestock. I won’t even bore with details; in this case, if you’re interested in Glenlochy, you might be best advised to visit the site of one Glenlochy enthusiast.

This particular cask from Signatory, distilled in 1980, bottled at 31 years old at 53.1% from cask 3021, leads with a peppery kick, mixing white ad black peppers, more heavily on black. Vanilla and malt follow behind that, with gentle and slightly watery fruit notes – primarily white peach and a hint of apricot. It’s pinned down with a nicely subtle honey body.

The palate is slightly woody but with the maltiness and honey from the nose. It’s slightly thinner than a medium mouthfeel, but definitely not “thin”. Again, white pepper shows up as does a dab of cayenne. There’s some dryness and bitterness on the palate with a moment’s rest, and it gets a touch earthy.

It finishes with malt and pepper, honey, and then it all kind of falls into a buttermilk biscuit with honey vibe. Really nice…. until it dries more and it’s an earthy cantaloupe rind. Not so great.

For me, this particular Glenlochy is somewhat off balance – the peppery notes were prevalent to me and a little too assertive. If the malt and honey qualities weren’t overpowered by pepper, then they have a tendency to dry towards bitterness and mustiness. If you’re an addict for scratching closed distilleries off the list, it’s worth a try, but this particular bottle was definitely not one that by any means would be a must-hit. Save your “rare whisky” allowance for a nice Port Ellen or Brora, in my opinion, if this bottle was your sole option.

But, it’s not. The K&L bottle, to my recollection, was a little more forward with the stone fruit qualities and had the malty sweetness. However, I had it after a few other whiskies that were fairly strong in their character, so it’s not an impression I’d feel comfortable making a recommendation on. My impression though favored the K&L bottle, bearing that caveat in mind. (As I said, no notes were taken, just my general thoughts, and I didn’t score, nor would I publish a score in this case if I had). Is it worth the $450 they’re asking? I’m not sure. If you want a big, massive, bold whisky I would be considering something other then Glenlochy in general though.

It’s a fun whisky to have on the checklist and unlike many bottles released these days, but I don’t know that I see myself forking over the asking price these days based on what I’ve had.

At a glance:

Glenlochy 1980 – Signatory Vintage, 31y, #3021 – 53.1% ABV
Nose: 
A little peppery kick initially, a mix of black & white peppers (heavier on black). Behind it is vanilla and malt. Gentle and slightly watery fruit notes; white peach, a hint of apricot. Nice subtle honey.
Palate:  Slightly woody mixed with malt and light honey, a slightly thinner mouthfeel. Pepper again; this time white pepper with a faint dab of cayenne. Gets a little dry and slightly bitter. A bit earthy.
Finish:  Malty with slight pepper; honey, a little buttermilk biscuit with the honey for a second but it fades in favor of an earthy cantaloupe rind finish.
Comment:  This is a touch oddly-balanced; the pepper is a bit assertive and overpowers the fruit, as does the slightly bitter and musty side of things.
Rating: B-

The 1983 Tasting Series #7: Glen Albyn

Glen Albyn is one of the lesser-seen 1983 distilleries. According to Oliver Klimek’s interesting reference, Glen Albyn falls under the “Endangered” category, like many of the other 1983s. I can’t say I’ve seen more than two of these in the last several years.

This week’s survey of the closed 83′s is a Hart Brothers bottling of Glen Albyn; distilled in February of 1978 and bottled in February of 2004. It’s bottled at 46%, a touch lower than I’d normally like to see from an independent bottling, but not too watery. Certainly well within the realm of what we’d expect from a modern distillery bottling, so that’s a good thing.

The nose on the Glen Albyn was very fruity – kind of a mix of fruit cocktail syrup and some very light white wine on the sweeter side of things. There’s confectioner’s sugar, and it’s very floral. I also get some Jolly Rancher candy (watermelon and maybe a bit of the cherry ones too). There’s a trace of wood, but this is just an amazingly fruity nose.

The palate ends up being suprisingly substantial. There’s wood and white pepper with a little dash of smoked paprika. It’s hugely malty and has a little sweet barley behind that. I’d expected this to be either slightly syrupy or thin but floral, and it’s got plenty of weight.

The finish is dry with malt sugars and wood, and is generally sweet. It’s not a very remarkable finish.

It’s an interesting malt, and one that I enjoyed, because of the head fake between the nose and the rest of it. I was expecting a slightly lighter Balblair style whisky, but the palate was much more grounded and earthy with a faint smokiness. It was really unusual and generally speaking, I find it hard not to enjoy these fake-out whiskies on some level. It’s perhaps a novelty thing, but they can be quite fun.

At a glance:

Glen Albyn 1978 Hart Brothers – 26y 46% ABV
Nose:
  Very fruity, kind of a mix of fruit cocktail syrup and a light white wine. Some confectioner’s sugar, very floral. I get little flashes of Jolly Rancher candy (Watermelon, maybe cherry). Some light wood but this is all about fruit.
Palate:  A little more substantial on the palate than I expected, with some wood and a light dusting of white pepper. A little smoked paprika behind that. Tons of malt, a little sweet barley sugar.
Finish:  Somewhat dry; malt sugars, wood, generally sweet.
Comment:  Very interesting. The nose suggested something syrupy like a Balblair, but the palate came in much more grounded and earthy with kind of a faint smokiness. It’s a bit unusual but I enjoyed it.
Rating: B

Scotland Has Lost The Plot

It’s a downright awful time to be a consumer if you’re interested in Scotch whisky.

There’s a lot of underlying causes that have made Scotch an absolutely horrible buy lately, especially for Americans, and I won’t rehash exhaustive analysis by others or my thoughts on the latest whisky to be sold in an imitation boat or the constant and ever more garishly nouveau-riche eye that guides brand identity these days. The fact is that two things have just utterly decimated my interest in Scotch these days – and as an enthusiast with some disposable income I suspect I am late to the party on this one.

The first is selection. What’s that? Isn’t choice great? Of course it is. However, “selection” has become just a proxy word for a ceaseless stream of one-offs released in stunt casks with novelty finishes. You only need to have so many wine finishes before you realize that a great many of them add very little to the underlying spirit. So much attention is delivered to single-cask releases or one-off limited runs or something similar and there seems to be virtually no attention given to distillers’ core range, short of tarting up the packaging every couple years and maybe bumping ABV up a hair. If you were one of those who felt they had to catch every new experience, it wouldn’t take long before you were tearing your hair out in despair of ever trying to try everything.

Even more tiring is the ceaseless stream of bullshit that accompanies these releases. If it’s not some impenetrably bizarre “legacy of stone” pitch (I’m sorry, what in the actual fuck was that supposed to mean?), then it’s something that tries too hard, like a hashtagged whisky. Intrepid distillers, take note: the correct answer is not to next release a QR-coded whisky. Here’s a general bit of advice – if you need three paragraphs to explain why you named your whisky “Dawn” in Gaelic and how that relates to what’s in the bottle, you are too clever by half.

For me, the breaking point came – to my surprise – from Glenlivet, of all distilleries. “Alpha” was first. $150 for a black bottle of… who knows what? Legally speaking it’s probably whisky, so we can guess at 3 years and at least 40% ABV, but who knows beyond that? What a tempting pitch.

I can have blind tastings with friends for less out of pocket and a higher likelihood of a fantastic whisky. If you see Alpha and think, “AT LAST! I, TOO, CAN HAVE A BLIND TASTING!”, I urge you to log off your computer right now and go meet people. This is a product that acts as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist for most reasonably well-adjusted people.

The last straw though was only a couple weeks later with Glenlivet’s Quercus. A 17 year old single cask – breathlessly and reverentially noted for its maturation in an “American white oak cask”. You know, a bourbon cask. There’s at least a million of them made a year in America and Scotland buys them by the shipping container. There are distilleries that use them exclusively for all new spirit maturation. Almost every distillery uses bourbon casks, and they are a common sight on the independent bottler market. Hell, even Glenrothes did this as a groundbreaking concept in their Alba Reserve and had the decency to charge about 60 bucks for it. Glenlivet has decided somehow that a single cask of 17 year old whisky in an industry standard cask now somehow merits $300. Three hundred dollars. What cast-iron balls!

That’s a perfect segue into the other side: price. In the last three years or so, prices have increased by 40% or more on some really standard malts. I remember buying Laphroaig 10 for $29. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find it much under $45. Macallan 18 went from $130-140 to now over $200 in the last three years. These are serious, serious increases in price. Certainly some of the old, closed distilleries will only rise in price, but when the bread and butter malts continue to skyrocket or get replaced by NAS editions, it’s hard to swallow. Apparently this is being driven by the East Asian market – best of luck to the distilleries of Scotland; I hope for your sake they can maintain that demand level. “Emerging markets” are also cited as a cause for why prices skyrocket – I guess that’s a good thing, but when customers in the US are starting to get uneasy, I wonder how it’s easily justified in these markets.

The price to consumers is only one aspect of this problem. The other is the up-until-recent practice of ordering direct from the UK. Due to local changes in UK law, shipping through Royal Mail is no longer possible and you’re limited to other carriers – which has made the cost of single bottle orders nearly prohibitive and more at risk of being held by customs.

Perhaps if the US adopted the 700ml bottle standard we’d see a wider variety of bottles and perhaps at a lower price due to Scotland being able to streamline bottling operations and by keeping a single range of labels as well. I’m not holding my breath though.

So what’s an enthusiast to do?

For now, the answer seems to be to focus elsewhere. I’m not a brandy guy, so don’t expect me to follow that recent trend; as far as whisky goes, my attention increasingly will focus on the US, Japan, and Ireland, with other international options here and there. In the meantime I will enjoy the bottles I bought when they were far less expensive. Hopefully by the time I’m done, things will come back to earth a bit. (Edit: Now I’m seeing Yamazaki 12 in a couple places for $80 and Nikka 15 for over $100 – maybe it’s already too late for Japan?)

I certainly won’t be buying much Scotch whisky for a while. Maybe some here or there, but at today’s prices, my purchases will be far less. I hope you’re not feeling the squeeze, but if you are, hopefully things will correct sooner rather than later. If not, I hope you have a stockpile you can work through! I do, and I will.

 

The 1983 Tasting Series #6: Brora

At last, the mighty Brora.

If you’re a follower of Serge over at Whiskyfun, you know that Brora occupies a spot somewhere near “holy sacrament” in his whisky preferences. It’s certainly in the upper echelon. I’ve had a fair number of whiskies from Brora and found them to be hit or miss – when they’re on, they are nearly unmatched; when they aren’t, they’re good-to-OK. In comparison to Port Ellen which is usually wildly consistent, Brora can be a crazy grab-bag. That’s what makes this fun, right?

Brora is an interesting distillery. It’s almost impossible to mention it without mentioning Clynelish – a sister distillery, and in fact, the name that the distillery we call Brora bore at one time. So: older Clynelish (mid-60s and prior) is actually what you’d see now as Brora; Clynelish from after that point is a separate building. Brora these days usually — but not always — implies that there will be a moderate-to-heavy peating level included.

A while back, K&L scored a pretty surprising coup in their 2011 Single Cask program when they had a 30 year old Brora bottled by Chieftain’s, from a first-fill sherry cask. I and many others jumped on this bottle almost immediately. It sold out long before arrival. K&L split the cask with Binny’s and Binny’s may have a few bottles left, but this one is fast disappearing.

I’d held my bottle aside for a special occasion, not knowing what it might be. When this closed distillery tasting came along, I suspected this may be the perfect occasion. This 1983 tasting has been conducted with some people who are not extremely experienced with Scotch whisky and I thought this would be a fun one to share – it reminds me of Sku’s generosity.

A couple years ago, on a fairly hot summer night, I had a really fun evening at Sku’s house. I’d met him a few weeks prior, and was getting my feet wet in the LA whiskey scene. He generously invited me over to his house, and even more generously opened a trio of Diageo Broras. He then went on to open so many other amazing bottles, and this has been indelibly stamped on my mind as the model for generosity that we should all aspire to. I had a lot of fun that night, tasting some all time favorites (Brora 30y 2007) and some all-time least-favorites (Usuikyou 1983). All in short supply, all generously shared. I hoped perhaps this tasting would let me pay that generosity forward in some way.

So, back to the Brora in question. K&L/Binny’s; 1981 distillation, 30 years. As dark as you’d want to see a whisky; gorgeously deep brown.

The nose had rich, full woody notes, with a light hint of oranges, and slight dust – kind of that “old study” quality (I guess with some oranges on the table). It was lightly earthy with fig and a hint of balsamic vinegar with a touch of molasses. The nose was intoxicating. I could just nose this whisky all day.

The palate was perfectly mouth-coating, with a sherry nuttiness and earthiness with plenty of wood. There was a slight quality of Kiwi shoe polish, some leather, and light sichuan peppercorn mouth-numbing heat. Cayenne pepper, figs, and molasses rounded it out with some faint peat in the background.

The finish had tons of dried fruits, pepper, and wood. There was a really nice apple skin note on the background, almost tangibly from a fresh Fuji apple. There was the slightest hint of rubbery quality but it worked so well.

This was one of the most phenomenal Broras I’ve ever had, with a fabulous cask influence and a luxurious mouthfeel.

Now, to step back briefly. I had a sample of this one quite early on, and it had received quite a bit of air in the sample bottle. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it at the time, and I thought it had more than a bit of wood to it – to the point that I’d dismissed it as being somewhat overoaked. The fresh bottle experience is quite different and on a shortlist of favorites. In all honesty, given the data points, I’d expect this one to have the potential to oxidize to something unpleasant. I’d suggest if you have a bottle of this or come across it (like I said, Binny’s may have a few but the K&L ones are long gone), you might want to consume it quickly – better yet, share with many friends. If those are not options, you should definitely consider gassing it with Private Preserve.

As I finished my whisky, I thought, “boy, there’s part of me that wishes I hadn’t shared this and kept it to myself”. I’m still reminded of the generosity of Sku sharing his great whisky with me and that makes me feel better about spreading the love on this one. That said, you better believe I called to try and secure more of this.

Most surprisingly, and this is largely a story for another time, I had the privilege of scratching one of my “bucket list” of drams off this weekend – Brorageddon. Brorageddon is an absolutely fantastic and almost impossibly dense and nuanced whisky. And yet – I think I might prefer this barrel pick. Write me off as a dilettante or a no-palate feeb; but I really loved this. If you can find some, you should absolutely try it. As with all of the 1983′s, these are vanishing fast now.

At a glance:

Brora 1981 Chieftain’s 30y for K&L & Binny’s, 1981 #1523, 54.6%
Nose:  Rich wood, light hint of oranges, slightly dusty. Lightly earthy, a little hint of fig and a faint hint of balsamic vinegar. A touch of molasses.
Palate:  Mouth-coating, beautifully nutty and earthy with plenty of wood. A little hint of kiwi shoe polish, a touch of leather, some light sichuan peppercorn and cayenne pepper. Lightly figgy and a touch of molasses. Very faint peat in the background.
Finish:  Nice. Dried fruits, some pepper, plenty of wood. Some really nice apple skin on the finish too. Slightest rubbery hints in a good way.
Comment:  Really excellent. Perfect cask influence. Just beautiful. One of the best Broras I’ve ever had.
Rating: A-

The 1983 Tasting Series #5: Brechin (aka North Port)

It’s easy to look at the 1983 closures and say they were an unfortunate necessity, or perhaps (as I read elsewhere recently) an overreaction to a slump in the sector. However, that misses one point worth considering. DCL did the world a favor when it closed today’s distillery – variably known as North Port or Brechin. (Since our bottle for the day calls it Brechin and that’s shorter, that will be the preferred nomenclature). It’s easy to look back and say, “boy, it’s a shame there’s no more Port Ellen”, or “Clynelish is good but not quite Brora”. But Brechin? Good riddance – in my opinion.

This is not my first Brechin. When I started getting into closed distilleries, Brechin was one of the earliest purchases I made. I wasn’t too impressed. At the time, I thought that bottle (a Connoisseur’s Choice edition) may have just been underwhelming. I’ve also managed to sample a Duncan Taylor Rarest, which normally is a satisfying label, and the whisky was just all alcohol fumes and indistinct, generic woodiness. That’s why I was excited when I found an Old Malt Cask edition of Brechin. OMC bottles are generally solid to quite good, and I can’t think of one in memory that has disappointed. This Brechin was also a little darker than others, so it seemed like perhaps there would be some sherry in the mix – as well as, I’d hoped, some flavor beyond “inert cask” and ethanol.

However, as I was pouring out samples of this one, I got a couple whiffs that made me wonder what this held. It wasn’t that it was overtly bad, there was just something different than the smells I tend to associate with a nice, well-aged older whisky. For weeks, Brechin sat on the bar, glaring back at me like some sort of whisky eye of Sauron; some sort of atavistic evil scarcely contained in a Boston Round.

When the time came, I poured the Brechin into my glass and prepared to take my notes. I had a feeling this was going to be interesting, but the OMC label kept me helpful.

The nose was bizarre out of the gate – distinctly watery, with this kind of burnt hair meets barbicide note. There was a woody tone to it, but it was unplaceably funky. Plastic, solvent, and some kind of lower key overripe fruit notes. And yes, that capstone quality for any whisky: a hint of garbage.

Well… that’s certainly tempting. In the name of science, I guess it’s time to find out how it tastes.

There’s a weird mixture of bitterness and sweetness. Plastic, apple cores, and burnt hair. With time, it also starts to get hot. And that’s about all there is to say. The finish is hot and uneven with more apple cores and plastic.

In an act of pure optimism, I decided to see how it changed. The nose actually has an intensification of the burnt hair and plastic with water. It stays around for the palate, though there’s some woody fruitiness and faint pepper. The finish settles down a bit but is still identifiably “off”.

This, to me, was flawed in the extreme. It reminded me of a Duncan Taylor bottle of Glen Elgin I’d had recently that had the same burned hair quality. I don’t know if it’s a specific cask flaw or taint that I’m picking up on, but it’s a flavor that jumps out at me when it’s present and is just foul.

For me, this puts my experience with Brechin at 0 for 3. At this point I think I’d be happy to see Brechin fade into the mists of time like some of the lesser-remembered Tom Hanks movies. Apparently there are some OK ones – Serge scored two in the low 90s; but the Whisky Monitor shows nothing scoring higher than 86 in aggregate. LAWS scores them low as well, though it looks like the 23y Rare Malts release from several years back was the best of the bunch. That’s only going to show up at auction of course.

If you’re not sure if you’ve gotta collect ‘em all, I’d urge you to start with skipping Brechin.

Interestingly, the rest of the tasting group likes this one better than I did, so perhaps I am sensitive to something on this.

At a glance:

Brechin (North Port) 1976 Old Malt Cask – 28y 50% ABV
Nose:  Watery with burnt hair, kind of a funky off note from the wood too. Plastic, a little solvent, some low grade overripe fruit. A faint hint of garbage. Water brings the burnt hair and plastic notes up.
Palate:  A weird mix of bitter and slightly sweet; a little bit of plastic, apple cores, that burnt hair note. Hot with time. Water keeps a burnt hair taste and brings a little woody fruit notes up with some faint pepper.
Finish:  Hot and uneven, a little old apple core, a bit of the plastic quality again. Water helps this by taming some of the more objectionable notes, but it’s still off.
Comment:  Flawed in the extreme; this is very reminiscent of a DT Glen Elgin that had a lot of the same burned hair/plastic notes. Has to be some sort of a cask flaw or taint; it’s pretty foul. The search for an acceptable Brechin continues.
Rating: D

The 1983 Tasting Series #4: Glen Mhor

It’s the fourth entry in the trip through the closed distilleries of 1983. If you’ve been following so far, we’ve hit some interesting ones so far; my personal favorite to date being Banff. Unlike last week’s note that maybe Dallas Dhu could see a return, we can safely put Glen Mhor in the “definitely gone” category. It was demolished in 1988 and apparently there’s a supermarket on the site now (this curiously is the fate that a few distilleries ultimately share).

Apparently the costs of running Glen Mhor were high and output comparatively low for the cost (merely having a single pair of stills, output couldn’t have been too great). Around the 1980s some degree of renovation would have been needed, but that was the worst time to be in that situation – so, decommissioned it is.

Glen Mhor seems to be off a lot of peoples’ radar and is one of the middle-to-back of the pack ’83 distilleries in mindshare. I’ve seen a reasonable number of bottles on shelves to this day, most commonly Rattray bottlings of different vintage. Prices still seem to be on the low end of the range for whiskies of that age, to say nothing of closed distilleries (certainly not chasing the astronomical mark set by Port Ellen or Brora these days).

As I noted, Rattray bottlings seem to currently be the most plentiful. I’ll be looking at the Rattray 27y 1982 bottling, 54.2% (cask #1217).

The nose on this Glen Mhor was slightly sour – a touch of newmake for just a second – with some light white wine, confectioner’s sugar and a slightly stale malt taste. Not a great start. This sort of nose usually indicates a questionable cask in my experience.

The palate is woody initially with plenty of malt. More white wine, pepper; a big, oily mouthfeel, and a faintly salty note which I didn’t expect. The finish had cinnamon, pepper, malt, and a little general fruitiness. There was also a little more of the saltiness from the palate. There’s some faint apple skin late on the finish, and then it all turns a touch bitter.

The nose indicates a much different whiskey than what follows. Those sour-ish notes are usually a real turnoff to me – the whole thing ends up tasting slightly pukey, or you have that edgy sweetness that hints that the cask didn’t do enough. This was a real surprise – more pleasantly so than the Dallas Dhu last week with its wood and too-sweet character.

At a glance:

Glen Mhor A.D. Rattray 1982 – 27y, #1217 54.2% ABV
Nose: 
Slightly sour, lightly white wine. Some confectioner’s sugar. Malty, a bit stale.
Palate:  Woody upfront, with plenty of malt. More white wine, a little pepper, and a faintly salty note. Big body, slightly oily.
Finish:  Cinnamon, pepper, malt, a touch salty, a little fruit. Faint touch of apple skin. A touch bitter at the end but it kinda works.
Comment:  The nose is disappointing but it’s pretty wild after that. Nice mouthfeel, a little more dimensional than the old, flat whiskey it seems like.
Rating: B