North of Scotland 42, 1971 (Gordon & Company)

North of Scotland 42, 1971, Gordon & Company
Following the very unexciting Invergordon 1973 from last week, here is a slightly older grain whisky from North of Scotland. Despite the name, the distillery was in fact located out near the east coast of Scotland, by Aberdeen. I use the past tense because it was closed in 1980 and dismantled in 1993 (the grounds are now used by Diageo for warehousing purposes). Known as Strathmore when it first opened in 1957, it’s a bit of a curiosity because it initially produced both malt and grain whisky from its column stills. The little that’s still available of its product is all grain though, and there’s not a huge amount of it floating around either by the looks of things. I assume the few very old releases that have come to market recently are from some cache of casks liberated from a broker’s unblended stock. Gordon & Company, who are fairly new on the scene, have released a few of these. This is the first one they put out, I think, and I also think it’s now all gone.

North of Scotland 42, 1971 (44%; Gordon & Company; from a purchased sample)

Nose: More expressive than the Invergordon but not really very different in terms of profile: corn sweetness, toasted oak and then some fruitier sweetness (apple here rather than berry). Vanilla too and some cream and then there’s a peppery quality. With more time there’s a bit of lime, which is a rhyme but not otherwise very interesting. A few drops of water emphasize the lime and make it zestier. As with the Invergordon, some sweeter fruit shows up as well (peach?).

Palate: Very much as indicated by the nose. Far more oomph here than in the only slightly lower abv Invergordon but it’s pretty much the same narrow band of flavours. The wood gets more prominent as it goes and slightly astringent as well. With time, the citrus shows up on the palate as well; and, as on the nose, water intensifies the lime, makes it zestier and the whole more interesting.

Finish: Medium. No new development here. Spicier with water.

Comments: It may be that the charms of these older grain whiskies are wasted on me. This has an average rating of 89 points at Whiskybase right now, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how. This is drinkable but not remarkable in any way—you can get all these pleasures in malts a fraction of the age and price. I’ll give it one more point than the very similar Invergordon to reward the slightly greater depth/intensity. (I actually reviewed these side by side but couldn’t bring myself to post two unenthusiastic reviews of old grain whiskies in very close proximity.)

Rating: 81 points.

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