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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 29, 2014


Not losing an inch to Inchgower

Serge, what a crappy headline again! We’ll have an old official first, then the F&F that we’ve never tried before, then maybe a few indies for good measure. Let’s hope that they’ll be more to my liking than ‘their’ blend, which is Bell’s.

Inchgower 12 yo (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1985)

Inchgower 12 yo (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1985) Four stars and a half You find these for cheap at auctions, they used to be massively distributed in the 1970s and 1980s. An older version at 70proof had been rather so-so in my book (WF 74.) Colour: straw. Nose: light yet fragrant, with some hay and whiffs of vetiver, perhaps, a touch of citrus, then notes of tea and cardboard. Some kind of green earl grey tea, dried cornflower… I have to say I quite enjoy this meadowness (!). Mouth: oh, but this is excellent! We’re far from other lightish ones, this has body, zing and oomph, with a lovely combination of mint syrup, cough medicine, pastis and honeydew. A huge surprise, despite the fact that it tends to lose steam after a one minute or two. Superb herbal profile. Finish: not long, but superbly herbal, mentholated, very lively. Comments: no signs of dust or old books or cardboard in this one, it’s all very, very good. Loved the mint in it. SGP:462 - 89 points.

Good, I had thought we’d have started this with a light and even weak one. Nothing doing! It’s going to be harder for the next ones…

Inchgower 14 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna, +/-2012?)

Inchgower 14 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna, +/-2012?) Four stars Wasn’t this the last of the official Inchgowers? I don’t think the owners keep bottling this baby… Colour: straw. Nose: nothing like the old one. This is a lightish, rather hayish and barleyish malt, although it tends to develop nicely, with notes of overripe apples plus, indeed, a few herbal notes that do hint at the old one. Chamomile tea? It’s all light and even a little ‘diaphanous’. Mouth: excellent! Seriously, this is another surprise, we have a rather zesty and even slightly salty/coastal start, the whole unfolding on oranges, rhubarb, even kiwis and other very ‘nervous’ fruits. Yep, tart ones. All that plus the obligatory overripe apples. It’s only after one minute that it becomes just a wee tad cardboardy and drying. Finish: long, with unexpected notes of pineapples and even Viognier (not into wine? Google is your friend ;-)). Comments: goody good, how could I live without knowing anything about this baby, except that it existed! Lovely light style! SGP:551 - 86 points.

I had thought the indies would have killed those officials, but I’m not so sure anymore…

Inchgower 28 yo 1982/2010 (50.4%, Bladnoch Forum, hogshead, cask #6965, 242 bottles)

Inchgower 28 yo 1982/2010 (50.4%, Bladnoch Forum, hogshead, cask #6965, 242 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: light gold. Nose: we’re well in the same family, but this nose is a notch more unlikely, I’d say, with wee whiffs of soap or washing-up liquid at very first sniffs. The good news is that almonds and fruit peelings are soon to take over, together with walnuts and lemongrass. With water: much less soap – could have been the opposite indeed – but more mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Mouth (neat): same impressions, a lively, citrusy start but the lemon is coated with… plastic? I also find slivovitz and quite some grapefruit skin. Fun stuff but I find it a little… too far off the beaten track, maybe. With water: greengages, ink, linseed oil. Finish: of medium length, rather cleaner and zestier. Lime and bitter herbs. Comments: a different take. Isn’t that what we’re expecting from the indies? SGP:351 - 78 points.

And while we’re in 1982…

Inchgower 1982/2011 (52.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd for La Maison du Whisky, cask #6984)

Inchgower 1982/2011 (52.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd for La Maison du Whisky, cask #6984) Five stars With the lovely ‘retro’ label. Colour: light gold. Nose: listen, this is going to be easy. Just read my notes for the previous one again and replace soap with wax and washing-up liquid with almond oil. You may add a fistful of the blackest earth from a great garden. Mouth: same. It’s one of the most citrusy and zesty drams I’ve tried. Citron liqueur? Lemon curd? And there’s plenty of beeswax as well. Long story short: it’s great. Very oily mouth feel, you almost need a spoon to get it out of your glass.  Finish: same. Like the waxy feeling a lot. Comments: pretty impressive. Why haven’t I tried it right when it came out, three years ago?  SGP:561 - 90 points.

Hmm, how about a sister cask?...

Inchgower 29 yo 1982/2011 (54.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6967)

Inchgower 29 yo 1982/2011 (54.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6967) Five stars Colour: nose. Nose: we’re obviously in similar, if not identical territories, but this one’s both a little less fruity and a little more medicinal and even coastal, with obvious whiffs of iodine (and tincture of iodine.) Ex-old Laphroaig cask? I’m joking, it’s well known that Inchgower can be a little coastal. After all, the distillery’s a few blocks from the sea. With water: some neat and sweet vanilla coming out, drops of triple-sec… Mouth (neat): outstanding – and very similar to cask #6984, except that once again, this one has more menthol, cough medicine and ‘a saltiness’. Brilliant. With water: all great. Earthy tarty fruits and eucalyptus lozenges. This one will keep the doctor away around Christmas! Finish: long, medicinal and zesty, with an utterly perfect balance. Comments: as they say, great stuff. Just the right amount of oak influence – that is to say rather little. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Inchgower 33 yo 1980/2013 (52.6%, Malts of Scotland for W-D info, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13069, 189 bottles)

Inchgower 33 yo 1980/2013 (52.6%, Malts of Scotland for W-D info, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13069, 189 bottles) Four stars This one was bottled exclusively for my friends at the ‘French forum’, that is to say and its webmaster the very excellent Jean-Marie Putz. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it’s true that the sherry and the gunpowder that comes with this type of cask are filtering out a part of the fruitiness that was to be found in the 1982s, but on the other hand, they dance well together. All that means more cigars, leaves, cured ham, damp earth and just hints of truffle oil. With water: it became very tertiary, between a very old balsamic vinegar and a high-end sangria (perhaps.) Mouth (neat): the zesty fruits are having the upper hand this time, and that fruitiness is rather unusual, that is to say more tropical, so to speak. Tamarind, cranberries, overripe papayas… Fun palate, very faintly sour, not unlike some eaux-de-vie. Also the obligatory raisins. With water: works a treat. It became smoother, with more fresh fruits, raisins, dates… and a drop of sangria. Olé! (oh come on, S.!) Finish: of medium length, very fruity, fresher than expected. A lovely aftertaste on ripe peaches. Comments: loved the ripe peaches. This baby loves water, which isn’t always the case with heavily sherried whiskies. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Very good, let’s try to find an even older one to call it a proper tasting session. Oh, I might have found something… A total and insane beast!

Inchgower 35 yo 1966/2001 (67.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #18.15, 'curry powder and dark rum')

Inchgower 35 yo 1966/2001 (67.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #18.15, 'curry powder and dark rum') Four stars and a half That’s right my friend, thirty-five years of age and a whopping 67.5% vol. A kind of record, I guess. Was the cask stored right under the roof? Filled at 70% vol.? Was it totally watertight? All of that? In any case, wish me luck… Colour: dark red amber. Nose: good one, this is rum. I’m serious, this baby noses just like an old Port Mourant or something. Now I get it, this cask was matured in Guyana! But it’s so strong that I don’t think it’s quite safe to ‘deep nose’ it, so… With water: the beast became as meek as a lamb. Cigarette tobacco, earl grey tea, a touch of plasticine, raisins, fresh mint, celery, lemongrass… It’s almost gentle! Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu, what a powerhouse! English-style rum, check, curry powder, check, polished wood, check, tar, check, liquorice, check, punch in your face, check… With (a lot of) water: almost perfect. Same aromas as in the nose when reduced, tobacco, teas, herbs, dried fruits, a little aniseed… Granted, the sherry was big, and I doubt the distillate has much to tell us, but it all works perfectly. Finish: I like finishes where fresh fruits take over, which is the case here. Oranges, lemons, maybe one or two green grapes… More cocoa powder and bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: no it isn’t absolutely perfect, but that was close. Great uebermonster - and what a ride! SGP:661 - 89 points.

Session over.

(With heartfelt thanks to Angus, Denis, Olivier, and Tobias)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Inchgower I've tasted so far







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