Blind Tasting Competition 18: Imperial 18yo, 1995-2014, 52.4% – Signatory for Asta Morris

So, the final night of this year’s Blind Tasting Competition is upon us. This year, like last year I’ve sucked. This year, unlike last year, there we no ridiculous casks like Lepanto Brandy cask matured Deanston and no ancient ‘nobody knows these whiskies’ Strathislas bottled in 1975.

That’s one benefit of there being so many contestants. Also, it proves that I still don’t know squat in the way distillery characters show themselves in whisky. My only excuse for this is that I don’t drink whisky that way. I assess a whisky based on flavor and I decide if I like it. There is no comparison to others of the same distillery. No search for common denominators.

At this point I could state that I’m going to add the search for those in my assessments in the future ‘for improvement in competition for benefit to score in competition’ (read in a Borat like voice). I also know I won’t do that and I will have forgotten that in tomorrow’s review.

So, I still needed some points to get to the top half of the final rankings. Then this pops up.

Imperial 18 for Asta Morris. Image from Whiskybase

Imperial 18 for Asta Morris. Image from Whiskybase

This smells very ‘mature’. The oak is very well integrated with the spirit. I think there’s a tiny hint of smoke in the background, with some straw. There’s a gin-like scent in the background, which probably is juniper. The well integrated oak reminds me of some really old Glenfarclas I’ve had once. I’m not sure whether this is a high or low ABV dram yet.

The palate also has quite some maturity to it, but more oak and strength than I expected. The oak tastes old, with some wood spices. Cinnamon, clove, ginger, and some other ‘herbs de provence’. There’s some fruit syrup behind this all, maybe some lychee, a touch of pineapple and some apple.

There’s a hint of tonic too. And gin on the nose. Fun times. Menthol, slightly bitter and tingling. Some simple syrup, and some fruits. Mostly spices though.

The finish is gorgeous with generous oak, but it’s all in a gentle way. Some menthol, a very gentle smoke behind it. It’s long, and gentle.

This tastes familiar, like old Clynelish or something like that. I’ve had Inchgower that tastes like this too. Very mature, very generous. Very delicious.

This, as it’s supposed to be on the closing night of the competition trumps everything we’ve had before. It’s a shame I have no sense to what it is. By my estimate it has some 50% ABV, and I guess it’s about 25 years old. Maybe older, but I’m not sure.

After trying to figure out possible moves by Ewald, as another way to approach the end of this competition, I spent some time looking up bottlings. In the end I picked an Inchgower that was released last year since it more or less seems to fit this flavor profile that I’ve encountered before. Of course, it could be a million other things.

I don’t think it’s a Clynelish since that has been the final dram of the competition before. I settle on a 23 year old Inchgower bottled for The Whisky Agency.

Upon revealing that this was an Imperial at ‘just’ 18 years old my first thought was “Yes, of course, that explains the gin-like flavour and scent’. But, since I really enjoy (good) gin, I think this is an utterly delicious dram. What happened next was clicketyclick, and a bottle was ordered.

I just had to have this. It is by far the best Imperial I’ve had and at an acceptable price. I think it an added bonus that it was bottled by Signatory for Asta Morris. Not sure why, I’ve never met Bert B., but I think he’s a nice guy and has a nose for quality.

Oh, points! I got some. 20 for region and 14 for ABV, which made me just crawl to spot 34 of 72. I made it into the top half! Barely, but I did it. Lucky me!

Imperial 18yo, 1995-2014, 52.4%, Signatory for Asta Morris. Still available at Jurgen’s Whiskyhuis for € 99. This might go quick after yesterday.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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2 Responses to Blind Tasting Competition 18: Imperial 18yo, 1995-2014, 52.4% – Signatory for Asta Morris

  1. Pingback: Wrapping up the Blind Tasting Competition of 2014 | Malt Fascination

  2. Pingback: My favorite whiskies of 2014 | Malt Fascination

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