It’s not often you find a man with a resplendent moustache gracing a bottle of whisky these days, which is a great shame. The fellow in question is Thomas Blake Glover. He left Scotland when he was young to head to Japan as a merchant. He started up the company Glover and Co, built a home in Nagasaki, and eventually rose to become a hugely important figure in the industrialisation of Japan. He had a fascination and association with various samurai clans, which led to the nickname ‘Scottish Samurai’ within Scotland. In 1908 he became the first foreigner to receive the Order of the Rising Sun. The link between this man and whisky? Well, Alex Bruce, who is the Managing Director of independent bottler Adelphi, is the great-great grandson of the Earl of Elgin, who signed the first treaty of Trade and Amity between the two countries in 1858.
To celebrate Thomas Blake Glover, Adelphi created two unusual vattings under ‘The Glover’ range. Both of them were vattings of Scottish single malts and Japanese singe malts. One was a 22 Year Old, which contained very expensive and much sought-after whisky from the Hanyu distillery. That bottle was selling for over £1000, and sold out pretty quickly, so I’m not reviewing that. Instead, I’m consoling myself with The Glover 14 Year Old, which was a limited release of 1500 bottles. Once again a vatting or blend of both Japanese and Scottish whiskies, it was bottled at 44.3% ABV and cost upon release £95.
The Glover 14 Year Old tasting notes
Colour: amber to deep gold.
On the nose: sandalwood, charred wood, raisins, figs. Musty cellars. Pine needles? Just a touch of smoke. When that dies back, the dried fruits come to the fore again. I wouldn’t say it’s incredibly balanced – it feels, and this is perhaps my mind playing tricks, because of the branding – like two separate qualities that don’t quite mix unless shaken up. A bit like egg yolks and oil in mayonnaise. Despite that, I think it’s great. I’m all for whiskies that try to be a bit unusual.
In the mouth: big flavours, superb texture. A little smoke and ashes at first, with touches of lemon juice. And then into good old-fashioned dried fruits, raisins, apricots, figs, and dates perhaps. Tomato chutney. Mulled wine. Old wood. Quite oily in the mouth by this point. More smoke and salt, like a bonfire on the beach. It really is lovely stuff – complex, captivating and thoroughly charming.
For a crude comparison, if I was to describe the mix to you I’d say to think of the ashier type of Caol Ila married with sweet Glenfarclas. Something like that. Unusual, indeed, but it works. A bottle of The Glover 14 Year Old used to cost £95 upon release, but is now going for twice that at auction. It’s beautiful and absolutely chock-full of character, but I’m just not sure I’d feel happy coughing up well over 150 notes for it. If it’s going for under £100 (unlikely, but you never know) then snap it up. I really hope there are more releases in this series – if anyone from Adelphi is reading this, take note!