Here is the fourth of my four timely reviews of recent Signatory exclusives for K&L. Well, not entirely timely I guess: while the Imperial, Blair Athol and this Glen Elgin are still available, the Benrinnes is sold out.
Glen Elgin is another of the many distilleries of the Speyside with whose malt I don’t have a terrible lot of experience—in fact, this is the first I’ve reviewed on the blog. There’s not much available from it officially and in the US there’s not a whole lot available of it from the indies either. As such, this is another that I cannot really place in the context of the distillery’s usual profile. But I am curious to see if this turns out to be another of K&L’s selections of 20+ yo whisky that doesn’t actually display very many of the characteristics people associate with older whisky. Let’s see.
Glen Elgin 24, 1990 (50.1%; Signatory for K&L; bourbon barrel 7875; from a bottle-split)
Nose: Honey and rich fruit: ripe apples, pears, lemon peel. On the second sniff there’s some berries and cream and the citrus is muskier and more pungent. After a bit there’s some roasted malt and milky coffee around the edges. Very nice. Creamier with a few drops of water but the citrus is still dominant; grassier and more floral too now.
Palate: As promised by the nose but more restrained. The citrus does more talking here than the sweeter fruit. A nice, oily texture and more punch than you might expect at the abv. With more time the citrus transitions from lemon (peel) to lime (peel) with a bit of grapefruit mixed in, and there’s some pepper. Water doesn’t do anything interesting for the palate and seems to pull out the faintest bit of soap—which, unfortunately, expands with time.
Finish: Long. Lemon peel and white pepper and just a bit of oak. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Well, there’s not a whole lot happening here but what there is is all very good. No major flaws—not neat, anyway—I’d hold the water. Surprisingly, for 24 years in a barrel (a bit smaller than the regulation hogshead) there isn’t much oak either (or vanilla). And no, it doesn’t taste particularly like you’d expect a 24 yo to (blind, I would have guessed a fair bit younger) but it’s also not priced like your average 24 yo, I suppose. I think this is another example of K&L selecting a cask with a big age number on it primarily in order to be able to sell it as a value proposition. Well, it’s only a value proposition if you fetishize the age. If you go by what’s actually in the bottle you can find those things in a lot of teenaged whiskies that cost less. In other words, sometimes when the price for an older single cask seems really attractive there might be a reason for it. If there were an official Glen Elgin 18 or 21 available, I expect casks like this one would be dumped into the vattings for it to maximize their strong points and mask their limitations. If you’re interested anyway, I suspect it’ll be discounted soon enough—and if you miss out by waiting, why did you listen to me?
Rating: 85 points.