Sometimes you come across a whisky that you just don’t get to taste often. Glenesk (or Glen Esk, or Hillside) is one of these distilleries that have been closed for a long time and their product is exceedingly rare. As in, the MUCH more expensive Port Ellen is very easy to come by, compared to this distillery’s output.
The first time I tried a Glenesk was in September of 2010, at Whisky By The Sea in Vlissingen. Back then, the Diageo stand had Rare Malts available for acceptable prices (some five euros for a dram, if I recall correctly). I instantly loved that one, and have had a knack for those chalky highland malts ever since.
This one was available as a leftover from The Whisky Fair in Limburg, in 2016. They often do really great bottlings for that festival, and most of the time these whiskies are acceptably priced for what you’re getting. Keep in mind that that means a bottle of Glenesk still tops 300 euros. Luckily there’s bottle shares which gives me and others a chance to try stuff like this at a vastly reduced price (and volume, but trying trumps owning, right?).
The nose is gentle and soft, with lots of barley leading the way. It does have that ‘old’ scent of wood, and soil and dusty attics, There’s some baking spices and candied lemon as well, with a hint of pulpy tree bark.
The palate is more spicy than I expected with a surprising hint of white pepper. Then I start getting baked apple, puff pastry and cinnamon. There’s hints of old oak, caramel and dusty barley as well.
The ‘oldness’ comes through in the finish, more so than on the palate. Apple and caramel too, with that dustiness and earthy hints. White oak leads the long finish towards the end.
Well, I sure like this whisky. Actually I quite love it. It has that old flavor that is harder and harder to come by at prices mere mortals can cough up. The only drawback is that apart from that, it’s a fairly predictable whisky. It’s very good at what it does, but it’s not surprising or ‘horizon expanding’ in any way. That’s not necessarily a good thing but for a 350 euro bottle, I would generally expect something that I remember in a few years and I doubt this is it.
Glenesk 1984-2016, 31 years old, Bourbon cask 4677, 49.5%, Cooper’s Choice for The Whisky Fair. Currently available at Whiskysite.nl for 400 euros