Quick Hits: Two Linkwoods from the 80s

Linkwood
Another entry in the “Quick Hits” series: this time two Linkwoods from the 1980s. (Previously featured: two 1980s Inchgowers, and two 1960s Tomintouls). Once again, too little of each to form very confident appraisals and so there are no ratings and I would encourage you not to in any way consider these notes (or the previous entries in the series) as guides for making purchasing decisions.

I don’t know a whole lot about Linkwood. I’ve had a few bourbon cask teenagers and that’s about it. It’s a Speyside distillery that makes a lightly fruity malt that mostly goes into Diageo’s blends. Every one that I have tried (only 2-3) has been solid but none have knocked my socks off. Will these samples demonstrate sock knocking-off potential? 

1. Linkwood 1983-2011 (45%, Samaroli; sample from a friend)

Nose: Light. Some honey, a mild grassiness, and apples and pears. Very subtle, and very nice. A mild pepperiness too. The pepperiness becomes more like wood spice at the end. A couple of drops of water make the honey and the fruit much more expressive, and there’s some polished wood too.

Palate: Seems bland when it first hits the palate but as I swallow there’s a peppery, spicy burst which lingers–cinnamon altoids. The fruit is even more restrained on the palate. Gets more malty with time. Water bring some fruit/wood out to play on the palate as well, but I suspect I added one drop too many. The fruit does get a little bit tropical with water.

Finish: Lingering cinnamon freshness/bite followed by teasing, slightly woody hints of fruit. Not a whole lot of change with water.

Comments: Quite nice. Perhaps my favourite of the US release Samarolis that I’ve tasted so far. However, I have to say that without water it’s not so very different from or better than the last teenaged cask strength version I tasted (a Signatory bottling for Binny’s, I think). Water makes the fruit more interesting, and if I had any more of this I’d try it again with less water (I do think it needs some). Once again, not sure what the logic of the low-strength bottling is–I doubt this is cask strength (Whiskybase lists a large number of Samaroli Linkwoods from the 80s at 45% and that seems an unlikely coincidence). Worth $300 or more? Only if you’ve suffered a head injury.

2. Linkwood 24, 1987-2012 (51.2%, Edition Spirits, sherry cask ES 011/01; purchased sample)

Nose: More expressive but not obviously sherried at first. Honey and orchard fruits again. After a minute or two though the sherry notes are more apparent but this is no sherry bomb: just some darkening of the fruit, some increased salt.

Palate: Not obviously sherried here either. Other than wood spice and salt I’m not picking up anything here. Let’s add some water. Water mutes the salt a bit and brightens up the wood spice. Faint hints of fruit peeking through.

Finish: Lingering spice. A lot of salt. Much less salty with water.

Comments: This one, I think, I definitely needed a lot more of–20 ml didn’t seem like enough. I think with a larger pour and more time this might have had more to say. As it is, I think I prefer the Samaroli.

Alas, my metaphorical socks remain on tonight as well.

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