Speyside 21, 1992 (Alambic Classique)

Is this my first review of a whisky from the Speyside distillery? I believe it is. And I believe it is also the first (and only) whisky I’ve ever tasted from the Speyside distillery—it was only founded in 1990 and its first single malt release was in 1999. My only other exposure to anything related to this distillery is the independent bottler, Scott’s Selection: the Scott of Scott’s Selection, Robert Scott, was Master Blender at the Speyside distillery. I’m not entirely sure but I think Scott’s Selection—which I think is now defunct—was in fact a property of Speyside, which means that they are one of few distilleries that also operate as independent bottlers. Bruichladdich/Murray McDavid and Benromach/Gordon & MacPhail are few of the others that come to mind as similar examples, past and present, though Bladnoch under Raymond Armstrong is probably the nearest analogue. Doubtless there are others (please write in below). The distillery also produces the Drumguish and Cu Dubh brands. 

With all of that and the fact that the Speyside distillery is actually located in the Highlands I have told you everything I know about this distillery, and some of it might even be correct. This particular malt was bottled in 2013 by the German outfit, Alambic Classique. It is from a South African sherry cask. Me, I didn’t even know that sherry is made in South Africa.

Speyside 21, 1992 (59%; Alambic Classique; South African sherry cask; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Generic sherried notes, a little leafy, a little metallic, some orange. As it sits, there’s quite a bit of oak that comes through and there are some red wine notes as well: cherry. The wine notes expand with time. Not much change with water, except that the oak gets dustier.

Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose but with less oak and more of the red fruit; plus some aniseed. Quite drinkable at full strength. Sweeter on the second sip and it’s a little too cloyingly sweet now. A little more citrus with time but it’s still too sweet; let’s see what water does. It makes it spicier and brings a little more balance, though the sweetness never goes away.

Finish: Medium. Nothing very interesting here.

Comments: I don’t know if this was re-racked into a sherry cask or fully matured in one but there’s far too much sweet sherry here. Drinkable enough but more winesky than whisky. Not the best introduction to the distillery.

Rating: 78 points.


6 thoughts on “Speyside 21, 1992 (Alambic Classique)

  1. I think what may be different in some of these cases is that a number of them involve independent bottlers who then purchased (Signatory, G&M) or started distilleries (Adelphi, A.D. Rattray). But as far as I know, Scott’s Selection was started after the Speyside distillery became functional in 1990 but before their own malt came online. If that’s correct then they’re closer to the Bruichladdich/Murray McDavid example. And I’m not sure if either Murray McDavid or Scott’s Selection are still going concerns; I think not.


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