TWE Old & Rare: Reflections at the Pot Still

After a stunning weekend at TWE Old & Rare whisky show in Glasgow [2017], I ended up in the Pot Still on a dark yet mild Sunday evening in February. What a great opportunity to compare ‘then with now’ – after all, there was much emphasis on that train,….


At the pot still, i found the selection of malts to be good and the prices to be fine – but how will the modern juice compare so directly to the oldies?

Round 1:

Inchgower 2002/2015 G&M CC New map 46% WB83.83[8]

Inchgower 2002.jpg

  • N: Compacted lime & honey malt presented in a natural style. It’s a little nutty with a lambs lettuce note but there’s very little of that distillery profile i associate with Inchgower – namely a heavy, leathery dry-sherry maltiness.
  • T: Starts with a funny, mild-funky arrival which wavers around. Generally it’s a honeyed, mineral-mash with a mild fizz, steadily becoming a rather thin>weak malt that lacks coherence.
  • F: Somewhat pokey [yet still weak], with notes of silicone, mildy-fresh aniseed and a tepid & dirty finish akin to some [agricole] rhum’s>clairin.
  • C: Not that convincing, and in context of a weekend of stunning blends and malts stretching three different centuries, this modern Inchgower is certainly lacking.

Scores 81 points

Round 2:

Glendronach 2002/2016 14yo Ob. #1504 [btl #106/674] 55.5% WB89.50[6]

Glendronach 2002.jpg

  • N: Toffee sherry [obvs], with thick-sweet notes of molasses, black treacle and dark honey.
  • T: Wishy-washy mouthfeel with the thicker sugars disappearing all too quickly. Hold in the mouth for the biggest impact – which is a given in most cases anyhow. It is however sooo much better with water.
  • F: Almost nothing at first but then comes more of that sugar complex smorgasbord,…. an array with a penchant for travel.
  • C: I wish the nose had translated on the palate, but it’s still fine whisky.

Initially scored 84/85 but 87 points with water.

Round 3:

Balblair 1991/2012 G&M Private Collection [2000 bts] 45% WB86.74[29]

Balblair 1991.jpg

  • N: Unusual bottling strength, especially so for G&M. The colour is so, so dark which means it’s heavily sherried. It also comes with a strong ethanol hit and a spicy cherry-sherry aroma.
  • T: Funky, bulk arrival. The sherry is heavy which drowns the individual flavours and floods the layers of development.
  • F: Nice diminuendo but with no outstanding remarks.
  • C: Sometimes sherry bombs are just sherry – not something that i encountered at all with the ‘oldies’ at the show.

Scores 84 points

Round 4:

Tamdhu 1991/2016 24yo Cadenhead ’Small Batch’ [486 bts] 54.4% WB87.45[13] WF86

Tamdhu 24yo.jpg

  • N: Potent whisky from two bourbon casks. Blowing off the surface ethanol from my glass instantly released the orange & lemon oils – now we are in business!
  • T: This is more like it – [light-ish] honeyed, glassy, clean, porridge malt-cream. It travels on at a relaxed pace with resinous activity.
  • F: It behaves just-so, slowing to a calming & pleasing ‘aah’.
  • C: This was a real treat to finish. I say finish, I couldn’t resist the Pot Still’s ‘weekly special’ – also a Tamdhu for a mere £2.25.

Scores 86 points

Round 5:

Tamdhu 10yo [2016] Ob. The ‘Can Dhu Spirit 43% WB82.53[120] WF86 [WM]84[1]

Tamdhu 10yo.png

C: I’ve seen this in major supermarkets of late. Initially matches a ‘cheap & cheerful’ profile image but on closer inspection, this is a well constructed 10yo with a full-bodied leathery-sweet, toffee-maltiness that manages to capture the spirit of the weekend. A decent and very enjoyable malt for Inchgower/Mannochmore/Teaninich fans, possibility. I think i’ll be buying a bottle.

Scores 84 points

Final thoughts

It’s rather unfair to pit this small & random selection of current whiskies [although the Balblair isn’t exactly fresh off the press], against some of the outstanding and celebrated whiskies that were showcased this weekend. I’ve learnt this however:

Whisky today is about walking into a bar dedicated to the stuff with a fully up-to-date & comprehensive menu, and being able to order an array of different malts, single casks, grains and blends from all over Scotland [and further afield], at very reasonable prices. The Pot Still even have weekly specials [as previously mentioned], and staff who are studying advanced Chemistry when they aren’t climbing up ladders to access obscure single casks for malt freaks.

With the whisky world seeing brave new & unprecedented innovations, an influx of international malts and new distilleries [home & abroad] flourishing on a regular basis, it’s exciting times for whisky enthusiasts whether it be drinking an unconvincing Inchgower, a cheap yet [<more than] cheerful [supermarket-available] Tamdhu, or enjoying & contemplating the spoils of yesteryear 1cl by 1cl with mutual acquaintances. Glasgow is certainly one of the great places to be to enjoying this rapid renaissance, and i cheer for all that has happened before and all that is happening now, and I am grateful to be living it right now!