Review: Scotch Malt Whisky Society 86.4 Glenesk

This was an added bonus from the Scotch Malt Whisky Tasting I attended recently lead by Charlie Maclean. I find that after a few drams, especially when we’re talking about peated, sherry or at higher strength, your palate is shot to pieces. Sometimes when faced with something rare or rather special, it’s better to keep the sample for the moment at home, when you can relax and truly appreciate it.

Attending festivals and seeing how organised visitors were from Germany, Denmark and elsewhere with filling up samples. I decided that I was becoming rather tired of handing over my whiskies to someone else, or missing out completely due to driving. Nowadays I always travel with a empty sample bottle in hand. Ironically for this specific tasting 1 bottle wasn’t enough! So from now on I’ll up the quota and then share my thoughts in a more detailed manner.

This is a very rare Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottling and one even they don’t know how many were produced for. The fact a dram is last on a tasting list often means it is the grand finale and worth the wait. Here it was amongst tough competition but for me it still stood out.

Distillery: Glenesk (Hillside)
Distilled: January 1981
Bottled: May 1992
Strength: 67.5% (no watering down the new make spirit here clearly!) 
Outturn: unknown

Colour: a copper still scrubbed to within an inch of its life. Great also to see some cask remnants floating like gold leaf.

Nose: pungent alcohol at first and the addition of water is recommended. Caramel, bananas, elderflower, oranges and a little bonfire smoke. Added sweetness with marzipan and ripe fruits.

Taste: embers and a herbal note. Campire foilage with a sustained finish. Adding more water unleashes a salty seaweed aspect – very unexpected! A little more water (and this fella can take it) takes this down to an almost bourbon-like experience with the wood and all the usual vanilla characteristics coming through very strongly. A three course meal in one glass?

A real assault course of a dram. One that takes careful planning and a caculated approach to conquer.


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