New Whiskies

Batch 122

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Batch 122: Benromach, Glengoyne, Glenlossie, Glenrothes, Imperial and Tullibardine

It’s a game of two halves this week for chief engineer Dave Broom, who samples a trio of younger single malts alongside a more – shall we say – mature threesome, including four from Speyside and two from the Highlands.

From a discreet Benromach that recalls the age of Punk to an idiosyncratic Glenlossie, there’s a sense of restraint at play here, as well as a cake-related theme that we can probably blame on Broom’s addiction to The Great British Bake-Off.

The heft comes from an impressive 30-year-old Glengoyne, but even here there’s a feeling of understatement that prevents overdosing on the richer flavours. A Sherried Glenrothes, meanwhile, retains balance and leads Broom to suspect the presence of American, rather than European, oak.

We close with an atypical example from closed distillery Imperial, with a spectacular nose that brings to mind the British Raj, and a fragrant, perfumed Tullibardine that continues the Highland distillery’s renaissance.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Benromach 1977

    Benromach 1977
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A quite discreet Benromach, which nevertheless shows some gentle mature elements, with a light waxy note that comes over like scented candles, then Argan oil, before ripe orchard and tropical fruits emerge. That more savoury, aged element is never far away, though, as in time (and with water) there’s a whiff of a new leather jacket and some black banana. It throws an alarming louche when water is added, though the dilution also adds hints of oak.

    Palate

    The fruits are to the fore now, more stewed rhubarb and, though still bright, they have obvious maturity. It all remains quite enigmatic, subtle and quiet, with hints of smoke/cigarette packet on the sides of the mouth, while in the centre the distillery’s tropical fruit softness pokes out shyly, before lemony acidity freshens up at the back.

    Finish

    Light touch of smoke, then chalky and dusty.

    Conclusion

    From a refill hoggie, this is delightful, but surprisingly fragile.

    Right place, right time

    Back to 1977, eh? Many were enjoying cake at street parties, the guys at Benromach were laying down some whisky – and some of us were fighting the punk wars.

    Glengoyne 30 Years Old

    Glengoyne 30 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Big and resinous, with a savoury element which moves into boot polish and moustache wax, before a bittersweet fruited element starts to take over: dried black cherries, mulberry, raisin and  treacle. This thick sweetness opens further to show touches of slightly overcooked marmalade and glimmers of red fruit, walnut and fruit cake. A drop of water brings the more zesty elements forward, along with a sweet, moist autumn earth note. 

    Palate

    Rich once again, there’s some chocolate Hobnobs alongside the mix of red and black fruits. The cherry element is retained, now with extra mulled spice. Although there’s evidence of tannins, it’s never astringent as the distillery’s soft, generous mid-palate pushes against that grip, making this understated in its own way. I’d leave it without water, to be honest, as it begins to separate and the whole package deserves to be appreciated.

    Finish

    A twang of acidity shifting back towards the savoury.

    Conclusion

    Balanced, rich and with a weighty elegance. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    Suppertime at Mr Badger’s.

    Glenlossie 2008 Cask Strength (Gordon & MacPhail)

    Glenlossie 2008 Cask Strength (Gordon & MacPhail)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    61.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Light and open to start with, there’s some citrus in here, hints of apple, a bready touch and an oily element typical of the distillery. In time, and with water, you get some apple, green pear and just a whiff of rusted metal.

    Palate

    Linseed oil (Ladyburn-esque) now comes through, along with a green, herbal element (angelica). The sweetness of some candied fruits in the middle adds some interest, but it does need water. When that’s added, there’s a pine element and a hint of dust. The texture is soft and gentle – those oils assisting – and though sweeter, the fruits are in the back. Quite restrained.

    Finish

    Lemon and then hot engine block.

    Conclusion

    Lovely texture, but the flavour is… individual.

    Right place, right time

    Fixing a ride-on mower in a new barn.

    Glenrothes 2005 Cask Strength (Gordon & MacPhail)

    Glenrothes 2005 Cask Strength (Gordon & MacPhail)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Full, with some steamed syrup pudding, then barley bins, before fruits come through: quince, dried apple, sultana and a grapey element. The lightly oxidised notes push you towards Sherry (trifle, in fact) and everything becomes more fat and creamy as the aromas develop. Water brings out added gingerbread with raisins, and some more oak.

    Palate

    As the nose suggests, there’s a mix here between dried fruits and a more creamy, lifted element: apricot jam, milk chocolate, black berries and ginger spice. The tannins are light and quite silky. This quite complex, layered effect continues when water’s added, with an added drying note of wet raffia, a hint of dunnage, currant, tea leaf and sweet dried fruits. Calm, rather than shouty.

    Finish

    Ripe and medium length.

    Conclusion

    Sherry cask, but maybe American oak? I like the balance here. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    The cake stall at a village fête. The vicar’s wife is on the Sherry.

    Imperial 1997 (Gordon & MacPhail)

    Imperial 1997 (Gordon & MacPhail)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Mature, lightly oxidised elements, some coffee, turmeric, chai, then blueberry, Darjeeling 2nd Flush, light plum and complex. With water you pick out more garam masala, then mature, savoury notes. Gorgeous.

    Palate

    Soft, in fact almost too soft. There’s some sweet citrus, and a slow, gentle, reveal of light orchard fruits. The richness of the nose doesn’t translate onto the palate and, while the core remains gentle and filled with liquorice, date and a touch of perfume, it seems slightly dilute. Water reduces things further and, though there’s a little more waxiness, there’s a lack of commitment flavour-wise compared with the aromatics.

    Finish

    Light and a little flat.

    Conclusion

    Very non-Imperial, unless the Empire means the Raj. I could smell this all day, it’s just let down a little by the delivery.

    Right place, right time

    Tiffin for the ladies.

    Tullibardine ‘The Murray’ 2005

    Tullibardine ‘The Murray’ 2005
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Clean, light and aromatic. There’s hot apple sponge (with ice cream), a hint of acetone, light American oak and a tiny hint of toastiness, then some cake icing, rose, spun sugar and candy floss. The alcohol needs to be vented off – or reduced with water. While all of the freshness has been retained, it’s more manageable, with added harvest notes and more floral elements.

    Palate

    Some heat from the off, but sweet and perfumed with meadow flavours. Things are focused on the tip of the tongue. Water is needed, and this adds in some decent weight behind all of this froth and frivolity, with more passion fruit and pineapple cakes with fondant icing.

    Finish

    A light nuttiness adds a balancing dry note along with some (pink) marshmallow and, with water, sweet. Short, but delicious.

    Conclusion

    A whisky which puts a smile on your face. Tullibardine’s renaissance continues.

    Right place, right time

    With time to spare, she fixes her nails while the next lot of cakes go in the oven.

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