Teaninich 39, 1973 (Malts of Scotland)

Teaninich 39, 1973, Malts of Scotland
I began the week with a very old Tomintoul. Let’s close it out as well with a very old whisky, albeit not quite as old. Like Tomintoul, Teaninich is not a storied distillery, which explains why this one was also quite reasonably priced on release. Of course, since this was bottled by the boutique Malts of Scotland it cost almost as much at 39 years old as that 45 year old from the far less-heralded Chester Whisky. It’s not just the marketers at the corporations that own distilleries that indulge in premiumization, you see.

Teaninich is a Diageo distillery. It’s not seen much official output: a few releases in the Rare Malts series, one Manager’s Choice and Manager’s Dram outing each and one Flora & Fauna and that’s it (as per Whiskybase anyway). Most of its output apparently goes into Johnnie Walker, and given how thirsty that blend monster is, not a whole lot of it even appears from the indies. Well, let’s see what this one is like.

Teaninich 39, 1973 (41.8%; Malts of Scotland; bourbon hogshead 13011; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Very fruity to begin as well and quite similar to that old Tomintoul at first sniff with a lot of overripe banana; a lot of citrus as well (orange, lemon) along with sweet apple and some vanilla. The citrus gets more prominent (and zestier) as it sits and there’s a greater maltiness too now. With more time the sweeter and tangier notes are in very nice balance and framed by some polished oak. Really quite an intoxicatingly fruity nose despite a lack of overtly tropical notes. With more time and air it loses some steam. A few drops of water perk it back up again and the vanilla is to the fore now.

Palate: Much thinner on the palate (not a total surprise given the abv but not a given either) and there’s a slightly metallic edge to it; otherwise, all the other stuff is here, just not as intensely present. Not much new development with time but it does get a little more intense: the citrus (lemon) expands a bit but so does the metallic note. A few more sips and I’ll add some water. As sometimes happens with low strength whiskies, a few drops of water actually seem to add some depth. As on the nose, the vanilla is featured more prominently now.

Finish: Medium-long. The citrus slowly washes out and the oak talks a but more loudly again (spicier here than on the nose). A menthol coolness lingers in the mouth long after all the rest has washed out. Sweeter with water but the citrus emerges again at the end.

Comments: A lovely nose but somewhat underpowered on the palate (though water oddly gives it more depth). At the strength of that Tomintoul this would probably have been a barn burner. Nevertheless, it’s close enough to it to support my theory that very old whiskies tend towards a mean depending on cask and spirit type. Both this and the Chester Whisky Tomintoul seem more like examples of “fruity distillates put into refill bourbon wood for a very long time” rather than exemplars of distillery character or vintage. It also seems hard to pick between them.

Rating: 87 points.

2 thoughts on “Teaninich 39, 1973 (Malts of Scotland)

  1. Is this a 41.8% cask strength?

    I’ve never had anything this old. I’ve sometimes wondered how a naturally low (through evaporation) ABV compares to a similar but artificially low (through dilution) ABV. You mention it’s thin on the palate and blame the ABV. I’d’ve expected a naturally low ABV would still be quite thick, but I suppose even if that’s true generally, it wouldn’t be case with every single cask.

    Interesting stuff.

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    • I would imagine it’s cask strength.

      I may be wrong to pin the thinness on the palate on the abv per se. It may be a combination of things. I’ve certainly had other low abv whiskies (young and old) where the texture was not thin at all (or not very thin). In this case I just assumed it was a general loss of “oomph” with age-based evaporation. I don’t mean to give the impression that I’ve had a lot of very old whiskies either—certainly most of the ones that didn’t have texture issues were at much higher strengths.

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