Rare bottlings

Rare Batch 8

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Glengoyne still room

This time around, Dave Broom digs out three (slightly) lesser-known Glens from the whisky vault.

The Glen Elgin expression tasted here was part of an ongoing series of bottlings by UD, the company which would eventually become Diageo. Every year, all of the distillery managers would convene to assess single cask samples, one from each manager, with the winner bottled and sold internally. In 1993, it was Glen Elgin’s turn – and that resulted in a bottling which is miles away from what you might expect.

Glen Garioch allegedly celebrated its bicentenary in 1997 (some believe the distillery is even older – an issue which we’ll be exploring soon on Scotchwhisky.com) with a bottling of a 37-year-old (ie distilled in 1960).

Meanwhile, the Glengoyne featured here was an official distillery bottling from 2007 of a 1972-distilled whisky which came locked in a replica of a spirit safe. Age has lent an air of gentle complexity to the trademark fresh and sweet style of the distillery (pictured, right).

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Glen Elgin 16 Years Old, Manager’s Dram

    Score 6.0/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glen Elgin 16 Years Old, Manager’s Dram
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    60%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Big, funky and Sherried. Very leathery and slightly savoury, bringing to mind roast goat, cherry, molasses, tonka. Then the picture shifts to a coffee roastery at full tilt, chicory coffee and some sulphur. Question: is it Glen Elgin?

    Palate

    Big and, as if you hadn’t guessed by now, Sherried. Quite sweet fruits wave frantically at you as the tide of tannin bears down on them. Water calms the tannins, allowing some of the distillery’s fruited notes (here apricot) to come through, but then they slam that door shut again.

    Finish

    Slightly astringent.

    Conclusion

    Sadly too heavily oaked, meaning it lacks balance and complexity. In answer to that earlier question: hard to tell.

    Right place, right time

    Being mugged in a bodega.

    Glen Garioch Bicentenary, 37 Years Old

    Score 8.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glen Garioch Bicentenary, 37 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Initially this is like a coal bunker on a wet autumn night, but this fades and out comes papaya and passion fruit jelly and heady orange blossom honey. When diluted, things become more pollen-like as all the earth and darkness has flown and you are left wandering in the soft upland grasses.

    Palate

    Just a tiny little bit soapy to start, then the earth and Glen Garioch’s fat generosity come through to sit contentedly in the middle of the tongue. Some light coal elements dust their way through.

    Finish

    Coal smoke seems to drift through once again, which adds a certain satisfying completeness to the experience.

    Conclusion

    At its best neat. The soapiness is the only negative here.

    Right place, right time

    He flees the smoky town to run in the fields of his dreams. Take it away, Glen…

    Glengoyne 1972, ‘Spirit Safe’

    Score 8.0/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glengoyne 1972, ‘Spirit Safe’
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Still very fresh and sweet nose with some peach mint and a touch of bran behind. In time there’s just a hint of bung cloth, giving an indication of age. Water brings out clean linoleum.

    Palate

    That vibrancy continues on the tongue. Here things start in quite a tight fashion with real intensity. Give it some time to develop and you get a lightly oxidised quality that suggests refill Sherry and, from that point on, it begins to build into light quince and some coriander-like lemon spiciness. Water helps immensely, turning it into a liquid cranachan (that’s rasps, cream and some meal), then lemon meringue pie.

    Finish

    Only now does it show the time spent in cask with touches of liquorice and leather.

    Conclusion

    A real palate whisky.

    Right place, right time

    A slow and gentle exploration of flavour. Take it away, Glenn…

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