Sticking with the Glen’s and old & rare, we move up [and West] from Stonehaven [WLP] with another East Highlander, one Speysider and two Northern Highlanders. All from the TWE Old & Rare Show 2020, the trickiest thing was deciding the order. Given the abv strengths, vintage order wasn’t necessarily going to cut it with this assortment. In fact, today I’m going to reverse the usual trend because I’m crazy like that. I’m also aware that the strongest yet youngest dram of the flight is particularly prized. We start then with three 25-year-olds – so a tasting within a tasting – the softest first [not wanting to make the same mistake as yesterday: WLP]
A closed distillery that comes with cult status, and rightly so. I drove around the area once trying to find remains of it only to find a Curry’s et al. I’ve had just half a dozen expressions from Glen Mhor and they’ve all been excellent, some really excellent [WLP95].
- N: With an oily weight on pouring, this initially seems bolder than it really is. The nose talks of a subtly husky pickle, jelly, and [Gewurztraminer] dessert wine-sweetness with heathery/herbal honeyed overtones and a quiet drifting smouldering thread – dreamy stuff. There’s so much here for me to gorge over including musty dates, Demerara sugar over hot milky porridge, red wine sweet > > Bovril-y < mushroom jus,… but it’s definitely me coming to it, not the other way around. This, for a treasure hunter, is one of those special and memorable nosing highlights. Let’s dive on in.
- T: Soft/mellow aromatically peppery-tannic-sweet with malty-dry old books, beginnings of OBE,.. I had hoped for more umami action on the palate which appears reserved only for the nose, but a few more sips in and the murky aromas of old wine & sherry cellars [not that I’ve been to many], begin to sing as do some of the indescribable faint fruity complexities that begin to emerge. Give me a bottle and I’ll tell you more about it!
- F: Though not that short, it ends all too soon for me. With a softly softly approach and the subtlest encapsulated smoke wisps attached, it finishes like a dreamy-dry olive-tannin & wine-like old skool sherry – dry bitter-sweet sherry – or perhaps a bone-dry old cognac that still has a few words of wisdom to impart.
- C: One gentle dram that reveals it’s secrets if you ask really nicely. Yet another very special Glen Mhor.
Scores 91 points
What better demonstrates the appeal of TWE Old & Rare Show than a 25yo 1970s vintage Glen Ord for just £5? Headed by Colin Dunn, Diageo’s J&B had plenty of affordable gems on offer.
This Diageo-owned highland distillery is one of the very large distilleries producing 11 million+ litres of spirit a year from two mash tuns that hold 12.6 tonnes of mash and 22 Douglas Fir washbacks that hold 59000 litres each. I’m told their [medium-length] 75-hour fermentation helps promote light fruity esters. Ord produces slightly more sherry-matured whisky [by volume] than bourbon. Their on-site warehouses store around 12,600 casks with around half of their annual spirit output tankered away and filled into casks in Stirling – so you could argue that only of half of Glen Ord’s spirit truly becomes Glen Ord single malt, whilst the rest matures as Stirling Scotch.
- N: This initially appears as soft as the Glen Mhor, but with significant abv differentials, it’ll no doubt grow and grow – and grow it does with juicy fruits [apricot & strawberry jam], fruit tea, and some rich fruit soft confectionary, the woodiness becoming more apparent as it opens up. What’s amazing, given the stats, is how fresh and vibrant this Ord is. Despite being distilled just eight years after the Glen Mhor, this appears far more lively and contemporary. Is that just the abv or was there also an active cask finish here? Blowing away the ethanol top reveals more earthy & dry plant [scorch-dried cowslip] notes before the sweeter yellow vanilla-ey fruits move in then towards tropical citrus and a wonderful musty malty depth.
- T&F: Being of beautifully aged bourbon-like malty savoury < sweet citrus on the palate, this one’s development is big and peppery [asking for a little water], but hold it in the mouth either way for a spectacular honeyed mildly-sweet malty citrus mouthfeel and development into a long-long finish. With a little water, you have an exemplary Highland malt, one that glides and glides. No need to overcomplicate things here. That’s one delicious delivery. I resisted [until now], mentioning a fair likeness to a [for now] long-closed distillery further North just off the A9, but I find there to be plenty of similarities.
- C: Same score as the Glen Mhor, for different reasons, this represents 25-year-old whisky just as well as the previous dram but in a totally different way. Both prove there is no other way we know of, of arriving at these sorts of junctures without a long waiting game.
Scores 91 points
Two more will be along very soon.