Benromach isn’t the only distillery from the northern Speyside/Highlands region that I have not reviewed very many whiskies from. This is only my sixth review of a Glen Ord. Given that Glen Ord is a workhorse producer for blends—which means its casks are no strangers to the warehouses of brokers and independent bottlers—there’s less obvious reason for my not having reviewed very much Glen Ord than there is for Benromach. Especially as I rather like almost everything I’ve tasted from Glen Ord—though next month I will probably have a review of the Singleton 12 yo…Of the prestige bottlings that Diageo has seen fit to release, I’ve previously reviewed the 30 yo that was part of their 2005 Special Release slate and the 25 yo that was part of their 2004 Special Release. Here now is my review of the 28 yo that came out before both of those in 2003. I don’t think Glen Ord has shown up as a Special Release since 2005—presumably because their malt might have been diverted to feed the Singleton monster. Anyway, I hope Diageo will get around to releasing more official Glen Ord beyond the Singleton sometime soon. The marriage of orchard fruit and oak in Glen Ord can be really special.
Another distillery visit question before I get to the review: we’ll probably be in the vicinity of Glen Ord while driving from the Speyside up towards Orkney in June. I currently do not plan to stop there—Balblair and Pulteney are on the Northern Highlands itinerary instead. Mistake?
Glen Ord 28 (58.3%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Lemon zest, wax, a little prickly grass. A sweet gingery note after a couple of beats and some polished oak. The sweetness expands to take in some baked apple and pear. Gets more biscuity/malty as it sits. With a few drops of water the fruit expands: some sweet orange here too now and some apricot. Gets muskier as it goes.
Palate: All the stuff from the nose but it’s hot and tight at full strength and it’s the oak that makes the strongest impression. Uncoils a bit with time with the lemon zest and wax and some rose wood making it out from under the oak but it’s still too hot. Let’s add some water. Yes, it opens up nicely now. Sweet orchard fruit and honey and lemon and wax with the oak providing a frame.
Finish: Long. Not very interesting neat: mostly ginger and oak. As on the palate with water and it’s even longer now. The ginger and oak yield to the citrus and honey and some white pepper emerges as well.
Comments: The nose is excellent from the get-go but even after the bottle having been open for a year, neat, it’s very tight on the palate. With water and a lot of time it gets closer to the 30 yo but stops just shy of that level. Odd how it tastes so much hotter than both the 25 yo and the 30 yo despite being at the same strength as the one and just slightly lower than the other.
Rating: 89 points. (85 points if tasting neat.)