Saturday, March 14, 2015

Glenfiddich 8 Year Old Unblended Scotch Whisky

I picked this jug up with a low-ball bid at auction.
I have no idea as to the provenance of it, and the cork quickly crumbled when I tried to extract it, necessitating a decant into another bottle.
I'm not even sure what era it emanates from - I can't seem to find any marker on the jug to point to this - but I'm guessing 70s or 80s?

Glenfiddich 8 Year Old Unblended Scotch Whisky (Ceramic Handle Decanter) 43%

Nose: Something sour at first, quickly turning to waaaay too over ripe fruit. Pureed apples. Something lactic and yoghurt-like. It's pretty out there. After a while some more recognisable notes appear underneath - some wood spice, a faint trace of honey. After even more time there's signs of integration as that near-rotten element dissipates, although hold on, now there's something plasticky lurking beneath. There may be traces of sweaty armpit and fish sauce there too, for good measure.

Palate: A fairly rich and full mouthfeel, considering the degrees Gay-Lussac stated on the jug. Ripe red apples. Over ripe oranges. Cumquats. A bit of spice. The fruit quickly becomes increasingly acrid and pungent. After 30 minutes or so things settle down a bit and we get a little more roundness. A touch more sweetness as the spice gains greater definition - cloves predominantly I reckon - while the (rapidly browning) red-skinned apples are joined by something red-fleshed like plum perhaps.

Finish: Medium long. A drop of plum sweetness initially, then increasingly pungent down the line. As time passes it takes on dried tea notes, all the while redolent of something vaguely sickly and milky. There seems to be a touch of smoke at the death too. Ashtrays.

Wow, pretty bizarre . But I kinda like it.
Old-school whisky. Old bottle ceramic handle decanter effect. Who-knows-what kind of storage conditions. All of that I guess.
The  initial nose is as close to rancid as you get without crossing that line, and while that fades over time, its feinty replacement is no less challenging. But after half an hour in the glass this becomes more "recognisable" and enjoyable to taste, while prior to that it is never anything short of interesting and bewildering to sip.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Glen Keith 1985, 29 Year Old, Cadenhead

Tonight, a review of a 29 year old 1985 Glen Keith from Cadenhead's gold-emblazoned Single Cask range, following ever-so-quick on the heels of yesterday's Maltbarn bottling.

It's Glen Keith madness.

Chivas got Glen Keith back up and running in 2013, saved from the mothballs it had been wallowing in since 1999. Another interesting fact that I just gathered from Malt Madness is that up until the 1980s Glen Keith switched between double and triple distillation. This bottling from 1985, though, is - I am fairly certain - the product of double distillation.

Glen Keith 1985, 29 Year Old, Cadenhead Single Cask, 47.5%

Nose: A gorgeous nose right from the outset. There's honey and cinnamon, ripe peach and nectarine, and subtle oak spices. Water releases more yellow fruit, as well as something floral and lifting too - white flowers and mangoes.

Palate: Narrow and slightly sharp to begin with. Very ripe tropical fruits soon emerge, but are hidden somewhat by the heat. Water broadens the palate and improves things immensely. The fruit is still quite ripe - mangoes, papaya, melon  - but is now released from the alcohol slightly and accompanied by a slight waxiness. Something herbal there now too - sweet basil perhaps? - and it's lending a freshness, just as things threaten to become cloying.

Finish: A little oak-dominant at first, grippy and drying too. Air and water push back much of the oak and let the fruit and spice through too, completely transforming things. The now very long, lively finish becomes slightly acrid right at the death.

Superbly aged Glen Keith this. Just so juicy and alive despite its age. It did need just a touch of water though, for my tastes.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Glen Keith 1992, 22 Year Old, Maltbarn

Today, a review of a 22 year old Glen Keith from the German bottler Maltbarn.

Maltbarn, I have come to learn, release some seriously good booze. I've recently enjoyed this awesome Clynelish, and have another couple of bottles of theirs still waiting to be opened. While I've purchased mine from Whiskybase, they also sell their own bottles through their website, along with a smattering of other bottles they consider worthy.

Glen Keith 1992, 22 Year Old, Maltbarn, 49.4%

Nose: Austere at first, but after a little while some chardonnay-like spice begins to emerge, soon followed by sweeter honey notes. The addition of water sees an immediate change as a bowlful of fruit is uncovered - tropical stuff like mango, passionfruit and maybe pineapple, along with some red fruit like strawberries and plums.

Palate: Quite a hot arrival. Starts out rather dry at the front but gets sweeter as it circles the back palate. After a little time in the glass the heat mellows somewhat. With water it becomes fruitier, although not as much as the amazing diluted nose promised. We do still get, though, the addition of some riper fruit like nectarine and peach drizzled with a hint of honey.

Finish: Shortish, dry finish at first, that gets a little fruitier as it lingers. Drying oak. Gets longer as it breathes. Water fans out and extends the finish greatly. While it remains slightly puckering and drying, the astringency is not unpleasant as it's accompanied by some warming spice and the emergent fruit from the watered-down palate.

To be honest, this isn't the best showing from this bottle. I have enjoyed it much, much more on previous occasions, but I can only describe it as I see it tonight I guess (I will check back in in the comments section below, though, as the bottle empties).

Still, it remains a lovely dram, one which I could - and just about have - happily enjoy every night. It has those lovely, classic, bourbon-matured notes that are so prominent in good Glen Keith and that I never tire of - particularly on the nose, which is absolutely bloody lovely, even tonight in what has proved to be a somewhat diminished outing.

It has, I think, simply suffered in comparison to another Glen Keith that I've had since, one that will - all going well - be reviewed here shortly as well.