There are some distilleries that lend themselves well to a standalone piece. Then there are others such as 27-year-old Inchgower from Cadenhead’s that deliver an almost terminal dose of writer’s block.
Discussing this whisky prior to the review itself with Noortje, who had kindly furnished me with a sample of the whisky, I suggested that we could talk about ages. After all, I offered, you’ve been telling people you’re 27 for the past 4 years…
This jibe did not prompt a verbal reaction, and thankfully the online exchange meant I was safely out of punching distance. However, I did imagine the same look from Noortje at that specific moment that was captured at a recent Glasgow charity tasting. The one where she is looking at me thinking “I’m going to kill you,” or something along those lines.
Point being, there’s always something to talk about when presented with a whisky. We pride ourselves here at MALT on offering more than just a review. Yes, you can scroll down and take in the conclusions, score or tasting notes. Yet each day, there’s one thing or another to pick from and debate. You can event comment and get involved with the writer behind the article. Whether it is a topical article around a recent industry happening, a personal memory, or just something totally out of left field, we try to be different. Ultimately, whisky is a well that never runs dry if you administer some time and effort.
A recent article by Dave Broom over at Scotch Whisky dot com debated whether whisky writers are missing the real stories. I rarely frequent SW.com myself, as I find it more industry-centred and irrelevant to my own whisky journey nowadays. The odd review of interest and the occasional piece from Angus will warrant my attention, as will the odd snippet of news, but in the end, it serves a different purpose and agenda compared to what we do here. That’s actually a good thing, as it means there’s more choice and variety online for you to explore.
Quite often when I’m out and about in the shadows at a whisky gathering, a random stranger will start talking to me about MALT. On the whole, these discussions are remarkably positive and reassuring. A well-known entity in whisky circles actually commented to me that they go to SW.com for industry news and to us for opinion and enjoyment. This is very pleasing given what we do here and the effort it takes to keep this thing rolling daily. We don’t pay our writers per submission or look to form cosy relationships with the industry, who will, in turn, provide advertising revenue. Everyone contributes when they feel motivated to do so because they have a shared love of whisky and writing. I’d like to think this more organic approach resonates with our readership.
Dave raises a good point that whisky writing has become stale and pedestrian. I felt this several years ago, never mind now in 2019. You can see it even in the occasional submission we receive from potential guest writers. Mark and I will chat these over, going so far as to ask the contributor to put a personal spin on things. There’s an accepted style and approach; an A-B-C of whisky writing that has become the industry standard. This is tiresome and of no interest to many of us, but it shouldn’t be the “be all and end all.” To give you an example, Dora’s initial Glen Garioch article was solid and perfectly acceptable, but we felt there was an opportunity to deviate from the norm wherein her background as a former chef and knowing flavours provided an interesting outlet. A wee nudge in the right direction provided dividends; perhaps the same might apply to SW.com?
Back to the whisky at hand, and I’m quite partial to an Inchgower at a young age. This Cadenhead’s release was lost amongst the drama of the Anniversary celebrations. Distilled in 1989 and bottled at 27 years of Noortje age, it represents the oldest Inchgower that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Fully matured in a bourbon hogshead and bottled at 53.2% strength, I offer my thanks to Noortje for the sample, and she joins me for the tasting notes.
Cadenhead’s Inchgower 1989 – Jason’s review
Colour: raw pastry.
On the nose: A very engaging profile with sliced apples tossed in lemon juice. Pears poached in vanilla, a touch of melon and icing sugar. Despite being 27 years in age this whisky is fresh and vibrant. Pineapple cubes from an old sweetie shop and a flour dryness. The addition of water reveals limes, an apple jelly and a floral nature with apricots.
In the mouth: Fruity as, more apples and lemons with a prosecco fizz. Peeled potato skin, olives and decayed cinnamon bark. A little grapefruit follows and sour jelly sweeties. Wood spice or Old Spice? A mellow green tea and a touch of sharpness midway. Water showcases sugary sweetness, coconut and removes the bitterness.
This is a very enjoyable and approachable Speyside offering from Inchgower. I’d still lean towards the more youthful teenagers from this distillery. If I was being critical of this particular release, I’d suggest that it has gone slightly too far in favour of the wood. A minor quibble in the scheme of things and hopefully more Inchgower to come soon.
Cadenhead’s Inchgower 1989 – Noortje’s review
On the nose: Plenty of vanilla at first. A hint of caramel and a touch of wood. Also a bit of wood stain in the background. Then it becomes fruitier. Red apples and pears. Followed by Lemons and mint. With water: Super fruity and sweet! More of the apples and powdering sugar.
In the mouth: Vanilla, milk chocolate. Followed by a hint of pineapple and a bitter edge from grapefruit. A slight woodiness. Pepper. And later also mint. With water: Wow, this is very sweet again! Powdering sugar and tinned apricots, and then actually not the apricots but the syrup itself. Ginger in the background.
It’s a bit of a middle of the road dram. As it is nice, but not very special. Enjoyable, yes that’s for sure. But don’t add water, unless you like it to be very very sweet.