Let’s start with a disclaimer.
I generally don’t care much for grain whisky. In most cases, especially in the last eight years or so, I consider it to be bottled too young. Before then, there were lots of really tasty 40+ year old being bottled, but in the end the character of the distillery is lost to cask influence.
Of course, a discussion can be had whether there is any distillery character at all since, contrary to single malts, grain distilleries are all about efficiency and not about quaintness. They are more akin to refineries than they are to white-walled farm buildings with a copper pot inside.
Then this one came along in Fiddler’s Advent Calendar, and JPH and I tasted it a few weeks ago. It kind-of stopped us in our tracks. I needed a bottle of this. That last part took some doing but in the end the Whiskybase marketplace came to the rescue and I now sit here looking at my very own Girvan.
Let’s do tasting notes!
Baking spices, gentle but unmistakable oaky. Menthol, bergamot, lemongrass. That powdery sugar on boiled sweets (the tins, you know), dried pineapple and papaya. It does go towards the more typical barley sugar with some time.
The palate is surprisingly gentle, with some grain-sugar sweetness. The floury dust in the boiled sweet tins. A bit more oak with a whiff of chili heat. Mango and chili chutney.
A bit more wine-gum like on the finish, but a bit more chili and oak too. Nicely warming, and quite long. Medium in length.
Not too sweet and quite complex. Absolutely gorgeous with the dried yellow fruits, boiled sweets and grain sugar. It’s like a Scottish take on bourbon, where they went over the top on quality and aging.
I absolutely love it, which is no surprise after the introduction and even though it is ‘only’ 27 years old (not ridiculously old for a grain whisky) I’m glad they didn’t push this any further.