The samples box has, inevitably, been somewhat bare in recent weeks, but Elixir Distillers seems to have been working overtime. To conclude our virtual Speyside Whisky Fest tastings here are some of its newest Speyside releases under the Single Malts of Scotland label. Some crackers here – and one’s an Imperial! In case you’re wondering about the images, they all come in full size bottles. Three are for the US via IMPEX, three available in the UK through http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Brand: Glenlossie 2009 (10 year old), 59.2%
Nose: The golden colour gives the game away, there’s plenty of cask at work here: butterscotch Angel Delight, and toffee sauce. There’s also a light olive oil ice cream note that suggests Glenlossie’s distillery character is still in there before (with water) a flood of sweet lactones and fried banana.
Palate: Thick and buttery with some of the peachiness of Irish whiskey – and its blackcurrant leaf. In time, there’s a coconut matting quality as it starts to dry. With water there’s a rummy/phenolic note.
Finish: Rounded and long. Sweet.
Conclusion:A crowd pleasing dram. If you like sweet, wood-forward drams then this is for you.
Brand: Glen Elgin 2006 (13 year old), 56.3%%
Nose: Fresh and crisp and slightly hot on the neat nose: William pear, greengage, damp cut grass/green bracken, raffia. After a tiny touch of cordite when water is added you get pear drops, then ready to bake apple crumble.
Palate: A hot start, with the pears and cooking apples returning, then an aspirin-like quality. The fruits remain hard and unripe. Water eases and softens things considerably, adds in lemon and lime, then you’re back to the green apple
Finish: Clean and slightly sharp.
Conclusion: Demands to be made into a highball which turns it into a rather delicious lunchtime drink.
Brand: Glen Keith 1995 (24 year old), 49.5%
Nose: Initially lightly flora, but there’s an oat like quality behind before it shifts again to lemon flower/leaf, and more overtly estery elements. It seems to to change constantly moving from milkiness to whistle clean fruits, to cereal. Water makes things slightly more plump with extra hints of almond.
Palate: A sweet start. That milky element is now more like soya or oat with the floral elements only revealing themselves late on. Water accentuates the different elements: floral, estery, malty, creamy.
Finish: Floral, intense, and slightly hot.
Conclusion: A whisky of many parts, just not necessarily working together.
Brand: Glenburgie 1998 (21 year old), 55.2%% [US exclusive]
Nose: The lightness in colour for a whisky of this age suggests a pretty relaxed refill cask and the nose backs it up. There’s still some grassy notes, prickly heat, chamomile lawn and green malt. When water’s added there’s a light charred note and some pine needles.
Palate: Pure fruit. Green banana/plantain, pineapple, then wild strawberry and a light nuttiness on the back palate. Water makes it slightly more gentle and it remains pretty, but simple.
Finish: Fresh green acidity.
Conclusion: A dram that even after 21 years is still progressing. Or was… it’s bottled now.
Brand: Glenrothes 1989 (30 year old), 41.9%% [US exclusive]
Nose: Immediately complex and thought provoking. I mean how often do you smell curry leaf and mustard greens, then Haribo, pressed mango, light sweet oak, sumac and pepper within a couple of minutes. Juicily layered and complex. Water gives the fruits more of a lift and reveals a central solidity. Fascinating and mature.
Palate: Has some of the oiliness you get from relaxed maturation. There’s a fleshy weight to the fruits siting within an elegant lightly oaked frame. It can actually take a few drops of water which brings out slightly oxidised fruits and more of a silken texture.
Finish: Long with subtle oak, light violet, and mint.
Conclusion: It is Rothes in slightly lighter guise, but is still quintessentially Rothes. Recommended.
Brand: Imperial 1989 (30 year old), 43.3%% [US exclusive]
Nose: Comfortable in its own skin. The wood sitting back, and allowing classic Imperial notes (American Cream Soda), honey, poached pear, to develop. In time there’s some lime marmalade, brioche, and gentle fruits. Water shows relaxed maturity, orchid notes and a generally languorous feel.
Palate: Imperial, for me at least, is as much about texture as huge flavour delivery and here the slightly lower alcohol has softened things further. Even at three decades you can pick out little jabs of green fruit, grapefruit, then fragrant apple.
Finish: Gentle and lightly honeyed.
Conclusion: Some whiskies are about a melange of flavours. Other put you in a place and this is one of those. The location? A quiet afternoon, sunlight on cream walls, feeling slightly dozy.