Glen Elgin 15, 1988, Manager’s Dram

Glen Elgin 15, 1988, Manager's Dram
Here is another unpeated whisky to close the month and it is also another from one of Diageo’s better received series: the Manager’s Dram. I’ve not had too many of these, as they came out before I was drinking single malt whisky (and the prices of what remains went past the reach of my wallet before I’d begun to venture past the easily available).

There were two releases of Glen Elgin in the Manager’s Dram series, one a 16 yo released in 1993 and this one, a 15 yo released in 1988 (I was just starting college then!).  I acquired this sample as part of a bottle split, which is probably now the only way for me to drink many whiskies of this reputation/price—I can’t spring for full bottles at current prices but I can talk myself into thinking that the price for 30 or 60 ml represents good value. Let’s see if that turns out to be true in this case!  

Glen Elgin 15, Manager’s Dram, 1988 Release (60.2%; from a bottle split)

Nose: Despite the high strength it’s quite expressive and it’s a quintessential heavily sherried nose: concentrated raisins, leather, rich fig reduction, dark soy sauce, pipe tobacco etc. etc. Gets fruitier as it sits with plum and apricot emerging to join the fig and raisins. With a little bit more air still there’s some oak too but it’s not overbearing. Gets sweeter and stickier as it goes. Water releases more of the fruit and now there’s a lot of citrus (oranges); saltier too now.

Palate: Well, it’s as promised by the nose and it’s very good. Not all quite in the same proportion though: saltier here and not as fruity; it’s also a bit tighter. Not much change on the second and third sip—let’s see what water does: ah yes, it brings out all that fruit along with the leather; some dried orange peel too now. The salt is still here but it’s not as pronounced; some coarsely cracked pepper too, and is that a touch of gunpowder? With more time the salt expands again.

Finish: Medium to start, and quite salty. Quite long with water, and less salty, with the apricot and dried orange peel slowly fading out.

Comments: This is excellent sherried whisky but it’s not whisky of a type that’s not being made anymore. Blind, I would have said it was a Springbank (I’ve had very little Glen Elgin) and I’ve had single casks of heavily sherried Springbanks that get quite close to this without getting anywhere close to the prices you’d pay for this at auction. In other words, while I really liked it (especially on the nose) I’m not terribly disappointed that I can’t afford a bottle. And it’s probably not for the utter sulphur-phobe, should any such still remain now that the sulphur-hysteria seems to have mostly abated.

Rating: 90 points.

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