Tonight, it would seem, is the night where I can delve into my ever-growing assortment of samples on this barmy/moody/stormy evening and create preferable conditions for whisky analysis, to investigate golden treasures without distractions. Whilst I’ve created the perfect conditions inside, I can’t do anything about the increasing numbers of teenage girls who have decided to congregate nearby for their weekly drinks & arguments session before making up and singing Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’, at the top of their voices – twice! It’s quite the performance that conveys the emotional need for expression and release. Passing by, I hear one boy ask his male friend ‘why do no boys live around here? I expect more arguments to kick off later on. In the meantime,….
I’ve decided to explore a couple of Glenlochy samples that I’d gleaned from TWE Old & Rare Show at the end of February, just before the lockdown. To supplement the line-up, I dug out two more Glenlochy’s from my samples/miniatures library to make it a proper flight. Having previously tried only two expressions from this long-closed distillery, it falls upon the ‘knowledgeables’ to inform me what Glenlochy was all about.
Pronounced Glen-lock-y, the Malt Whisky Yearbook , says: ‘Glenlochy was one of three distilleries in Fort William at the beginning of the 1900s. For a period of time, the distillery was owned by Joseph Hobbs who, after having sold the distillery to DCL, bought the second distillery in town, Ben Nevis. Glenlochy was closed in 1983‘.
Malt Madness says: ‘The Glenlochy distillery in the Highlands was founded in 1898 by David McAndie of the Glenlochy-Fort William Distillery Co. The distillery gets its name from the Lochy river that flows through the town of Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis mountain. Apart from Ben Nevis and Glenlochy, there used to be another distillery in the area; named ‘Nevis’. These days Ben Nevis is the only remaining active distillery in this part of Scotland‘. Furthermore, ‘In 1992 the pagoda and maltings were sold to West Coast Inns. The surviving distillery buildings were converted into flats for sale and rent. Like the buildings of Saint Magdalene they now offer the ultimate shelter for whisky lovers‘.
Scotchwhisky.com says: ‘Surprisingly for such a young distillery McAndie’s venture survived the crash of the early 20th century‘. ‘No official bottlings were released during this Highland distillery’s lifetime – the majority of Glenlochy’s spirit was destined for blends which during the 1930s were headed for the US. However, Diageo released Glenlochy single malt as part of its Rare Malts series during the 1990s and a handful of independent bottlings are still available‘.
Whiskyfun says: General Distillery Profile – Malty Tea Pepper Herbal Waxy Apples Grassy‘.
Glenlochy 1977/1994 16yo Cadenhead Authentic Collection 59% [5cl] WB91
- N: The strongest [abv-wise] yet youngest of the flight, I suspect this to be as astringent, stark, resilient [and even unforgiving] on the palate as it is on the nose, so I shall only nose this at first whilst exploring the rest of the line-up, experimenting with water thereafter. What we have here is a fresh chiselled straight-ahead malty peppery/gingery appley expression with an underlying lactose note. Over time it softens but stays resolutely straight/simple.
- T: Geez, that is peppery with a concentrated zing. I won’t be trying this neat for a second time. The arrival is lively and lovely, though even with plenty of water, it still becomes peppery and sour all the same but far [lemony] sweeter later one, now with more of a sugary chilli zing. In fact, this whisky improves significantly minute by minute, so it’s well worth persevering with, especially once you’ve eked out the distant phenols/char??
- F: Almost detergent-y lemon[rind]-fresh with hints of apple skin/apple pie and a faint lactose/butyric feint-y mildly malty/bready soft fungal < coppery/wash-like waxy-ish finish. Being almost rum-like for a brief moment, we wrap up with a malty Milk of Magnesia and wet gacky chalky chew.
- C: You can imagine how useful this style would have been to DCL as a characterful structural base for their blends, but of course, plenty of other distilleries catered for this role just as well. I’m not too sure how this will fit into the rest of the flight but as it turns out, it found a more than capable sparing partner later on.
Scores 87 points
I definitely took these miniatures for granted, when a few years ago, they were ‘ten a penny’. Having endured [and enjoyed] the NAS years, the STR years, and the never-ending ‘finishing’ years, I now look back on these bottling with new-found respect. It’s unlikely that many contemporary whiskies can or will turn out like so many in G&M’s Connoisseurs Choice range did – being from a very different era – so these miniatures become more & more invaluable to malt heads as indicators of smell & taste back in time & place.
This is a low-level miniature, so crossed fingers – but I needn’t have worried. tOMoH tells us: ‘Gordon & MacPhail bottled versions of this in 1989, 1991 and 1993, at least. This has no bottle code, which suggests a 1989 bottling, as I think that is the year they started printing those codes’.
- N: You just don’t get that complex stewed bouquet from many contemporary drams, even after many years in glass. With that sweet/sour apple-y bouquet for starters, a descriptor list would look biblically scroll-like if I dared begin one. Look out for soot and sour lemon under the sweet thick stewed pepper-seasoned fruity punch as well as heaps of references from cosmetics to confectionery, from pharmaceutical medicines to household products. Let’s leave it there as, by the time I come to nose it again, I’ve another descriptor page of amendments and developments. ‘A succulent layered dry fruity bouquet from a bygone era’ will suffice.
- T: Gossamer-soft & super squidgy mouthfeel [with two drops of water] becoming bitter woody soft-peppery-fresh and herbal-waxy > leathery & buttery.
- F: A hard-to-describe conclusion, the profile now a shadowy consolidated collage of what’s gone before. Somewhat running out of steam before arriving at the station, we’ve a slightly woody/cardboardy conclusion, finishing dry yet conversely, also waxy and succulent.
- C: A rather intriguing, even slightly puzzling whisky overall, the nose and mouthfeel on arrival being the standout features. This is a fine historical curio I’d be happy to explore more of at anytime.
Scores 88 points
- N: There’s no question this is from a sherry cask, one that talks of [Nocino] walnut and ginger [Prunella] liqueur – [reviews of those amazing bottles to follow] – and even Edradour [WLP] in part. Furthermore, I find this minty, spearmint-y and again, like the G&M miniature, with confectionary and [laundry] household tones and a bready new make vibe to boot. I think this may be as formidable as the Cadenhead 16yo on the palate. Let’s find out.
- T: Thankfully it’s not as fierce as I’d anticipated, just yet! Instead, we’ve a dry herbal-infused sugary-bitter-sweet sherry arrival, the new make-y spirit seemingly intact despite the influential yet sympathetic [refill, surely?] cask influence of 28 years. Peppery herbal bread on the turn,…..
- F: ,… increasing in peppery vibrancy as if it’s going to take off. Geez Louise!
- C: Not for the faint-hearted, this has varied appeal.
Scores 87 points
- N: This is definitely a case of best till last, the nose thick and foosty, never dry yet with a mix of biscuit notes [Carr’s Table Water, Digestives, Lotus cinnamon biscuits and vanilla-y Custard Creams] and some mild mouldy [Camembert] cheeses coming from a rich bourbon cask I imagine. Furthermore, we’ve a really old shoe cleaning set found in a bag of wood ash, pastries in brown paper bags, fried cumin seeds,….. but really, this is a nose that’s beginning to transcend whisky and now converging upon the spirits ascension tree.
- T: That is a very herbal [marjoram/tarragon, and a little OBE], particularly fungal, and succulent=bone-dry delivery that rings and rings,…
- F: ,…. into old dusty capacitor-waxy & herbal-waxy emulsion and bitter-dry vanilla ice cream to die for. And that’s where it stays, chiming over a bourbon cask of yesteryear.
- C: This is beautiful rare-old whisky. What a treat!
Scores 92 points
Further reading: glenlochy.com