I really liked the Binny’s Linkwood 16 I reviewed a month and a half or so ago (enough to purchase a full bottle after going through my share of a bottle split) and it’s about time I started acquainting myself more fully with this distillery’s output. This one is just a bit older than the Binny’s exclusive (via Signatory) but far younger than the 37 year old that is scheduled to arrive later this year as part of Diageo’s annual Special Release lineup. That one will probably cost around $1000 so even if this review is highly untimely it is no less useful than any reviews you will read in October or November of that 37 year old.
This was bottled by Chieftain’s, an Ian MacLeod label that doesn’t seem to be quite as ubiquitous in the US as it once was. Or maybe it still is and I’m just not paying attention—wouldn’t be the first time I didn’t know what I was talking about and also not the hundredth time.
Linkwood 19, 1993 (57.5%; Chieftain’s; hogshead 4703; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Toasted oak, malt and vanilla to start and then a lot of fruit on the second sip: apple, pear, blueberry; gets a little muskier as it goes and the oak develops a prickly, peppery quality. With more time there’s some honey as well and the apple goes from fresh to baked. With water it’s a lot more acidic (citrus) at first and the wood seems more assertive as well; but it settles down nicely with muskier fruit emerging: kaffir lime rather than lime, and a bit of peach too.
Palate: Pretty much as advertised by the nose, though sweeter to start, and very close to that Binny’s 16 yo. Nice thick texture and very drinkable at full strength. On the second and third sips there’s some acid (lime?). The sweet and tart fruit notes mingle as it sits. Let’s see what water does. Water emphasizes the acidic fruit and brings out a lot more pepper too.
Finish: Long. The fruit gives way to the toasted oak here; some spicy bite but it’s not tannic at all. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Looking at my notes, this is really very close to the Signatory/Binny’s 16 yo. That one is a bit richer, this one is a bit brighter (and also a bit woodier). The good news is the Binny’s bottle is still available—so if this sounds appealing maybe take a chance on one of those? It also pains me to say this, but if these recent teenaged Linkwoods I’ve randomly sampled are anything to go by, odds are good that the super old version Diageo are about to ask a king’s ransom for is probably going to be spectacular. But I’ll never know.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to Patrick S. for the sample!