Google Little duos, today Glen Esk and...

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

July 29, 2019


Little duos, today Glen Esk and… ?

Indeed we’ve got some Glen Esk, but we have only got one, while we never taste ‘singletons’ like that, out of the blue. Remember, in WF’s little book of good tasting manners, comparison is paramount. So let’s first try this Glen Esk, and then try to find a fitting sparring partner. Something as rare, if possible…

Glen Esk 32 yo 1984/2017 (49.2%, Cask & Thistle, SCSM China, refill butt, cask #9207, 390 bottles)

Glen Esk 32 yo 1984/2017 (49.2%, Cask & Thistle, SCSM China, refill butt, cask #9207, 390 bottles) Four stars and a half
So Glen Esk in Montrose a.k.a. Glenesk a.k.a. Hillside, a rather obscure distillery closed around 1983-1985 with all the others, while it never quite had the cachet of Port Ellen or Brora. Or even of Coleburn, St. Magdalene or Convalmore. Like some current rum distilleries, at some point it was having both pot stills and columns, and could make its own ‘single blend’, just like its neighbour Lochside, or Ben Nevis on the other side of Scotchland. Colour: straw. Nose: I remember some very grassy and austere Glen Esks, well this is pretty grassy indeed at first nosing, getting then very chalky, with also a large bag of apple peel and a jar of raw unsweetened apple juice. Not quite an old whisky to nose, while I wouldn’t say the age feels. Also a fistful of grist. Mouth: not a whisky to nose, but certainly a whisky to savour, full of muesli and wee bits of crystallised fruits, lemon, beeswax, chalk again, and a touch of tangerine jam, before quite a lot of plasticine does show up. It’s rather subtle, and that’s the 30 years in some pretty ‘moderate’ wood. Finish: medium, pretty much on some kind of lemony wax. Very little sherry, if any. Comments: close to the ones that Coopers Choice/ Vintage Malt were having. I suppose they’re behind this wonderful bottle for our friends in China.
SGP:461 - 88 points.

All right, we need a proper sparring partner, one that could ‘climb over’ that elusive, albeit wonderful Glen Esk… Perhaps another ‘closed’ one, and one that was bottled way before that little Glen Esk was even distilled?

Glen Albyn 10 yo (56.9%, John McPherson & Sons, OB for Whiskiteca, Edoardo Giaccone, 75cl, +/-1970)

Glen Albyn 10 yo (56.9%, John McPherson & Sons, OB for Whiskiteca, Edoardo Giaccone, 75cl, +/-1970) Five stars
Right, one of the famous three Inverness distilleries (Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Millburn), and a bottling for one of the true heroes of whiskydom. I mean, Giaccone was someone who really did something special, not just someone who’s paid to do a production or commercial job, just like anyone in any field, whether in beans, in spare parts, in egg noodles or in whisky… It’s also to be noted that this was distilled when Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor were still belonging to Charles Mackinlay (remember Shackleton), so before the distillery was sold to the D.C.L. (who closed it for good ten years later). Colour: full gold. Nose: Glen Mhor could be real nice, but frankly, Albyn and Millburn were often extra-dry and totally austere, close to concrete juice. Not that I’m against singular whisky (which would take the biscuit), but a minimum amount of sexiness can do no harm to a tipple. So concrete, grass, crushed cement, mustard, old walnuts, old furniture, old magazines… And not even the tiniest fruit in the creation. With water: marzipan and mushrooms! Mouth (neat): would you smoke fruits? Like, oranges? Pears? Apples? This is some kind of special chutney, half-fermented, smoked, spicy… While the background is more austere again, all on chalks and a lot of paraffin. Eating Play-doh and drinking the most resinous retsina wine. With water: ah, truly wonderful now, despite these notes of bitter waxes (Play-doh). A whole lot of waxy citrons. Finish: long, a little bitterer again. Grass soup and fresh walnuts. Comments: I’m not as madly partial to this style as a few friends who’d kill their dearest pets for a bottle (a figure of speech!) but I do appreciate the singularities mucho. No one makes this style anymore.
SGP:262 - 90 points.

(Thanks KC and Angus)







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