My more recent articles have been rather mentally laborious, so I thought I’d do a more brainless assortment of reviews.
Besides, I noticed it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed any single malt with “Glen” in the name. Just as I thought of doing this bundle of reviews, someone sent me samples of GlenAllachie and Glentauchers, both of which I have very little experience with and haven’t reviewed here yet. These are single malts that also don’t get much coverage on Malt. This sample of SMWS Glen Scotia has been with me for a while, but I don’t know enough or feel strongly enough about it to write a long Malt style article. There you go—a trio to write up.
First under review is a single cask strength GlenAllachie that was bottled for Abbie Whiskey. This distillery has been getting more attention thanks to Billy Walkers. I was amazed to learn of their 160 hour fermentation, which has become the distillery’s most attractive aspect for me. I was very fortunate to have tasted the first releases of the 10, 12 and 15, all of which I liked, but I preferred the 10 the most.
The whisky was distilled in 2008, then aged in a Pedro Ximenez (PX) Puncheon cask # 667 for 12 years. The whisky was bottled at 56.9% ABV, and the cask was able to produce 687 bottles. A bottle costs £90.00.
Single Cask GlenAllachie 2008, 12 Years Old – Review
Color: Sherry scary.
On the nose: Immediately intense heat all throughout. It’s followed by lots of PX aromas like coffee, hazelnut chocolate, sultanas and raisins. There are bursts of heat in between while the off notes come out. They’re shorter but as intense as the PX notes. I get scents of leather, muscat grapes, caramelized onions, roasted onions and tart orange. NO SULFUR.
In the mouth: 60+%-ABV-whisky hot. Just like on the nose, there are immediate and intense notes of PX cask influences. I get muffins overloaded with raisins, sultanas, mocha, fruitcake and leather. At the end are very weak tastes of sulfur, orange jelly and grape jelly.
It was really surprising to find out this wasn’t bursting with sulfur. That’s about the most positive I’ll give for this whisky.
This is a definite sherry bomb, but it’s too hot and too one dimensional. All there is to this is the PX flavor. The regular GlenAllachie 10 was memorable for me, as I really got a lot of banana and baked flavors in it. The PX influence in this absolutely dominated the distillery’s DNA flavor.
Someone who constantly hears of the cask narrative and knows drinkers after the flavor of the wood will appreciate this more. Being in the part of the journey where the distillery DNA matters more to me, I didn’t enjoy this. I would have given this a four, but since there’s barely any sulfur in it, I’ll give it a plus 1.
Second is an 18-year-old double first fill-ex sherry cask strength Glentauchers bottled by Gordon & Macphail (G&M). Cask #5072 and #5073 were used for this. The resulting ABV is 58.7%. It has an average price of £102 according to the Whisky Base.
Glentauchers is another distillery I’ve had maybe only one other time. Aside from its stocks being primarily used for blends by Pernod Ricard, I know little else about this.
Gordon & Macphail Glentauchers 1995, 18 Years Old – Review
On the nose: Surprisingly, not a sherry bomb, and has a pleasant lack of heat. Up front are the initial aromas of peaches, pears, baked apples, dried apricot, ginger candy and orange peel jam. These pretty much make up the dominant aromas, aside from a few holes. In between are light and mellowing aromas of cherry-flavored candy, sakura, orange jelly, elderflower, star fruit, honey and cinnamon. At the end is a flash of leather, paint thinner and a very faint smell of sulfur.
In the mouth: Very similar to the nose in that there are lots of fresh fruits and bits of baked fruits. Up front is a welcome taste of mocha and a muddled assortment of fruits. These suddenly unravel into an intense ethanol heat. The fruit notes come out again, but they’re not as dominant on the nose. The notes here are balanced, taking turns, and medium in strength. I get baked apples, more mocha, star fruit, honey, ginger candy, sapodilla, green apple peels and milk chocolate.
I let this sit in the glass for 15 minutes before nosing and sipping it. Midway through, it changed in the mouth. I get darker notes like chocolate cherry, sapodilla, baked apples, cold-brewed Ethiopian coffee, star fruits and ginger candy.
This subverts expectations in a good way. I was expecting this to be more similar to the GlenAllachie above, but I was gladly wrong. This is also unlike other sherry bombs I’ve had like A’bunadh or Glendronach Cask Strength, which makes this experience really great. Would it be too much to hope for more first-fill sherry cask-influenced whisky to be as complex as this?
My very little experience with this distillery leaves me with no idea what its DNA is like. It’s safe to say that the cask and distillate influence are balanced, though. My friend got a great deal for this, too. Safe to say, I might start exploring more Glentauchers, thanks to this sample.
Like the other two above, Glen Scotia is another distillery I know little about. Yes, it’s one of the three Campbeltown distilleries left, but that alone hasn’t been enough to keep the distillery name constantly in my head. As a result, I keep forgetting to look for bottles of these whenever I’m on the search for new ones.
Upon doing more research, it turns out that the Loch Lomond Group now owns the distillery. Similar to Springbank, they make unpeated, semi-peated (which this SMWS 93.8 is said to be), and a heavily peated malt. Aside from having only three types of distillate, they also make short and long fermentations. The short fermentations are said to result in more nutty flavors, while the longer ones result in more fruity tastes.
SMWS 93.8 Rough around the edges (Glen Scotia) – Review
60.6% ABV. First-fill ex-bourbon cask. Distilled March 4 2010. Seven years old.
Color: Pale ale.
On the nose: Immediate intense heat that envelopes medium and lasting aromas of peat, nori, burnt citrus peels and orange syrup. Then I get light and also lasting aromas of green apples, basil, starfruit, orange peel, banana peel and kumquat.
In the mouth: This is initially not as hot as the nose, but the heat quickly ramps up. Just like the nose, though, I get medium and lasting tastes of apple juice, peat, nori, kombu and burnt citrus peels. Then I get a short burst of medium intense milk chocolate, mocha and nori. At the end are lighter and shorter tastes of citrus peels, plums and chocolate orange.
Judging by the numerous fruity flavors, this is a long-fermented distillate. This makes me want to explore more of the distillery-bottled Glen Scotia range. There’s a good balance of full-bodiedness and complexity. The presence of peat and smoke is enough to satisfy a peat head while also giving off layers you won’t find in peated Islay single malt. This whisky has no dull moments.