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Summer - Autumn 2012
We have just witnessed a Summer of great sporting achievement
with The 30th Olympiad and today, as I write this on Sunday 9th
September, the 2012 Paralympics will come to a close.
So, Summer also draws to an end and traditionally this is the
time of year when my thoughts turn to whisky and pumpkins. No,
not together but quite individually as I hopefully become
inundated with entries for our Malt Maniacs Awards (MMA 2012)
and the task of opening these wonders and pouring them into
maybe as many as two and a half thousand sample bottles over the
course of a single weekend.
But why pumpkins? Well, this is also a time when my wife and I
look towards a holiday in an area of Germany just beyond the
Black Forest and on the borders of France & Switzerland known as
Markgräflerland. An area of prolific agriculture and vineyards
with farms offering this year's harvest on roadside stalls and
where pumpkins feature heavily, very heavily, as village fests
have competitions to find the biggest and heaviest examples.
So, as things go a little quiet around here on Dram-atics spare
a thought for me having to inhale all those whisky fumes during
our MMA 2012 filling weekend and then, hopefully, getting some
time with my wife in one of Germany's nicest corners.
Five Single Grains
old and grainy"
My experience of
single grain whiskies
well behind that of single malts, but I have tasted some from
almost every Scottish grain distillery and in general I have
enjoyed my experiences so far. At Limburg 2012 there weere
a few on offer so how could I possibly resist enhancing my
experiences even more?
now introduce five single grains ranging in age from 18 to 48
Invergordon 18y rich amber in colour and with a nose
screaming fruity furniture polish or even freshly polished
brass. The youngest of today's selection really announces its
presence. The fruitiness quickly comes to the fore with orange (zest)
infused butterscotch and the slightest suggestion of rum. The
palate just confirms everything I found on the nose as it
positively explodes with flavour and that orangey butterscotch
is truly wonderful. With 4 drops of water the whole experience
just gets even better. The finish is very long with a
concentration of creamy butterscotch. Fantastic, just fantastic,
even "Great" which means a 90 score from me.
1991, 20y, Signatory CS Collection this has a colour of
light amber and characteristics on the nose which I haven't
experienced in single grain whiskies before, namely lots of
leatheriness. This leatheriness is really quite distinct and
accompanied by suggestions of wood and raisins. After a couple
of minutes some light floral notes begin to develop in the
background. Hyacinth? The palate offers a very creamy mouth-feel
with an initial burst of toffee and hints of sandalwood. 4 Drops
of water enrichen the toffee as it now suggests treacle rather
than cream toffee. The finish is long and very gentle, then
richer with the water. This is another fine single grain,
although a few points behind the Invergordon. This gets a very
creditable 86 points from me and is definitely recommendable. I
did like that leatheriness.
20y, Signatory CS Collection here's another offering from
Signatory's Cask Strength Collection and it's the lightest in
colour of all today's whiskies. In fact it's extremely pale and
almost water-like, but that really doesn't take anything away
from the nose as it also offers a lightly leathery woodiness
with some rose petal floral hints developing over a few minutes.
Although the floral notes are there, their intensity never quite
takes over and they certainly don't dominate, but that's not too
bad. The palate also offers a creamy leatheriness, very pleasant,
most enjoyable, but quite single-faceted. 4 Drops of water
increase the floral notes and make the whisky far more aromatic
on the nose, whilst a suggestion of toffee develops on the
palate. The finish is long with a very lightly toasted
leatheriness. Overall this whisky is most enjoyable but quite
subdued and gentle. A good summer evening aperitif methinks. 84
Points from me.
Alloa 1964, 43y
This Alloa was distilled in 1964 and left to mature for 43 years
before being bottled for Germany's Alambic Classique. The colour
is a wonderful glowing amber and the nose is equally rich and
fruity with perfumed wood, in fact it's almost very old
sun-dried driftwood. The palate is rich with apricot and
butterscotch and is deliciously chewy whilst retaining a very
creamy mouth-feel. The finish is long, rich and very tender.
Overall I'm very impressed, especially with the tenderness. Not
quite a great, but not far away with 89 points from me.
Another North British concludes my journey into single grain
whiskies for today and what an oldie it is. Have I saved the
best for last? The colour is dark rich amber and the nose is
filled with flora in a slightly perfumed soap kind of way. Don't
get me wrong, this isn't bad, in fact it's quite wonderful with
a freshness suggesting that perfumed soap. It also offers
hints of musty wood and cherries. The palate again suggests wood
and cherries but it also includes hints of home-made fudge or
creamy toffee. The finish just goes on and on and on ...... in a
quite luxurious way. What can I say other than "wow", a true
great that I could just drown myself in. 91 Points and yes, it
seems I saved the best until last.
I have recently
been asked if I thought single grain whiskies exhibit a
distillery character in the same way that single malts
generally do. My personal feeling here is that they all have
quite similar profiles with fruity butterscotch, often apricot,
and also a woodiness with older examples, but specific
distillery characteristics are not evident to me. As for today's
selection I was really quite astonished by the quality of the
Invergordon at 18y which is why I awarded it a magnificent 90
points, one more than the excellent 43y Alloa, but the
outstanding bottling is undoubtedly the oldest one at 48 years
old (OK, maybe 47y) with some quite magnificent aromas and flavours. I will
also say that in general I love this kind of flavour profile and
will certainly be exploring many more single grains as I get the
opportunity. My unending gratitude goes out to the magnificent
Limburg whisky fair for the chance to buy and sample such drams.
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