Moving on from that fabulous Ord and Mhor [WLP], we head over to the East Highlands [again].
Glen Garioch 1990/2015 25yo Usquebaugh Society 25th Anniversary cask #7937 [288 bts] 56.7% WB87.33 WF90
Glen Garioch – pronounced ‘Glen Geary’ – is an Eastern Highlands distillery once famed for heating tomato-growing greenhouses from its energy recovery system. Established in 1797, we can expect at least some peatiness from this 1990 vintage since Glen Garioch was peated until 1995 when Beam Suntory mothballed the distillery for two years. Further reading: SW
Whiskyfun.com says: General Distillery Profile:
Old (<1985): Peat Sherry Tea Mint Pepper Coffee Resinous Wax Oranges Wax polish Camphor
Young (>1985): Tea Green Sweet Mint Burnt Apples Spirity Fudge Sour Coffee
- N: Rose petals, leaf foliage & hay into strawberry & vanilla ice cream then creamy fudge with raisin & rum ice cream. The peat/smoke is either distant, faded, or it’s my receptors that don’t always pick out phenols so well. I do pick out notes of leather and apples but it’s the creamy fudge [with a distant sour dry citrus touch] that rings the loudest.
- T: With a slow thick chew on earthy savoury-sweet fudge and an unexpected farmy earthy muddiness into a bitter-charred middle, these flavour centres make for a particular/peculiar flavour profile.
- F: That palate combo leads to an unusual bitter-sweet complex, the dry-raisin fudge closer to soft toffees with some thickening single vanilla cream on the side. It is, however, never as sweet as it may sound. Closes with the echo of eating stored well-ripened blackberries, cut apples, more dried foliage, and an extremely well-controlled resinous touch.
- C: The ideal dessert dram for those with a partial sweet tooth perhaps, this appears the freshest of the three 25-year-olds and the quirkiest. A super society anniversary dram nevertheless.
Scores 88 points
Glen Elgin 1988 15yo Ob. The Manager’s Dram 60.2% [750ml] WB92.25 WF94 SW
The Malt Whisky Yearbook  says: ‘There are three distilleries that are inextricably linked to the blended Scotch White Horse. First and foremost is Lagavulin which Peter Mackie, the creator of the brand, inherited from his father. The second is Craigellachie which Peter himself built-in 1891 in order to serve malts for the blend. And the third is Glen Elgin, a distillery that was never owned by Mackie but a part of the mighty DCL who acquired the White Horse Distillers in 1927‘.
How refreshing to end a flight with a youthful digestif. The difference between 15 and 25 years is a significant one, yet older whiskies can lose as much as they gain. I’ve no worries that this Elgin can handle the situation.
- N: This smells like a cracker. We start with the earthy fruity abv pong with an almost coastal sherried nose that reminds me of that cracking [and recently enjoyed] 1976 Ardbeg [WLP], albeit without such an intense salty peaty hit. Neither is it as driven. Comparably, the Elgin is more laid back, far less layered and frenetic. Some say this a sherry monster, but I’m wondering if that’s right, even before reducing the abv. Though the delicious shiny leathery sherry talks, doesn’t the distillate talk just as freely? I’m surprised how salty and malty it becomes after just 30 minutes. Hints of Nocino liqueur soon pass towards sweet soy, balsamic [damn Serge – I got that too, honest!], essential orange oils, orange & pomegranate reduction, … geez, stop! Isn’t this what we are missing from modern Macallan?
- T: Best neat. This way it’s less lively, more controlled, more together, more impactful,… with a formidable long solid-body surge forwards an unstoppably long travel – Tremors-styley – a reference to a comedic 1990 film starring a young Kevin Bacon. [Incredibly they made 5 more!]. This is heading down the dry-ripe-succulent almost tincture-like route where I can imagine this eventually turning into some sort of food in the form of a dry sweet reduced medicinal glaze, given time.
- F: When spirits begin to converge into tinctures and reductions, anything goes. The finish itself can go in any-which-way as it does here, offering all manner of mind-blowing bitter-sweet-savoury-sour duckings & divings.
- C: If this younger malt doesn’t perhaps possess some of the deeper leanings that the three previous 25yo’s have shown, it certainly doesn’t suffer from their absence. Bottled around 2003 – and currently fetching £5000! – this is perfectly formed 15yo whisky at the top of its game. Anyone who has the luxury of opening a bottle now is in for a treat.
Scores 93 points