Another sample I traded with whisky buddy Martin. Another one to open my eyes to my own mistakes. Strangely enough, I just read a post by ‘My Annoying Opinions’ on regretting not buying better whisky when it was still available. He states there is quite a lot of so-so whisky sitting on his shelf because he was more focused on getting a huge collection of different stuff on the shelf instead of buying quality. That.
Not that I, again, change my buying pattern. That would be far from credibly since I planned to do just that quite a few times before. Currently I’m on a ‘buy affordable stuff that’s good’ tour, and it suits me just fine. I will, however, check auctions for strange bottlings like Glenlochy, or Inverleven or Convalmore and such to pop up. Buying current things for current prices can always be reverted to as a back up.
As it turns out, I like old whisky. Not necessarily whisky of great age, but whisky as it was made in the 1970s and 1960s. In The Whisky Sponge’s recent April fools post in which he wrote a serious piece about the dumbing down of whisky he states that in yonder year whisky was far more diverse. Far more ‘of the land’ than it currently is.
Every time I taste a truly old dram (again, that Convalmore, Inverleven, this Glenlochy, but also old Glenugie and that 1968 Bowmore) I come to find I love particular flavors in those whiskies that you don’t find anymore nowadays. Or at least, they’re few and far between. Bowmore is getting that a bit again (the recent Rock Pool, or even the 100 Degrees Proof has a bit of that old style dirtiness in it). Some old Clynelish, Brora and Inchgower have that too.
Unfortunately, with current releases of such old whisky, the prices are WAY out of my league, plus by now those whiskies are so old that the wood completely dominates those flavors in most occasions. Especially if European oak was used in the maturation of said spirits.
Anyway, Glenlochy. Long gone, another victim of the 1983 closures. This one is a bottlings from a couple of years ago by Duncan Taylor under a label that correctly sets expectations on the price: Rarest of the Rare. Currently, the value sits at some € 400 according to Whiskybase, but I don’t have a clue how current that is, and how it performs in auctions.
Sniff: Sharp, hot, peppery and old. Dirty old. The good old. Dusty attics and dried, crumbly paper. That old Bowmore kind of sharpness that borders on ammonia. Curry spices, masala style if that is a thing. Green, wet tree bark. (The north side of a tree, if you know what I mean). Sip: The palate is sharp, but slightly less so than expected. Still hot and peppery though. Chili peppers and cracked black peppercorns. Dirty with a slight chemical note. That tingling ammonia feeling again (a guy I know would describe this as cat pee, but be in awe at the same time). Lemon candy, dry and lots of oak. Slightly sugary, brown sugar. Swallow: The finish is dry too, with that brown sugar again. Oak, pepper, lemon and long. Also, I get a strange flavor that reminds me of sponge. Not cake, just the thing you use when cleaning the car. This is an awesome whisky. Absolutely terrific and it surely packs a punch at 27 years old. I had expected it to be more tame than it actually is, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The dirty flavor and scent is gorgeous, but there is so much more happening here that deserves attention. What also deserves my attention is my desire to own a bottle of whisky that tastes like this. The dirtiness, the lemon, the chemical whiff, the spices and the pepper. I love it all. The combination works great and it shows what a good bourbon cask can do (if this is a bourbon cask, but my money is on that). In short, this is the style of whisky that I need to add to my collection. Glenlochy 27yo, 1980-2007, 54.8%, Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare. No longer for sale but used to go for € 400 a while ago.