Here is the fourth of the five Archives whiskies to hit the US a month or so ago, the fourth of the four single malts (the fifth is a bourbon), and the oldest of the lot. This is not from the Speyside distillery but from an undisclosed distillery in the Speyside (yes, that’s a confusing sentence for people who don’t follow Scotch whisky). The label says only “a Speyside distillery” but I vaguely remember reading speculation that it might be a Glenlivet. I don’t expect the bottlers to confirm this one way or the other but if you have some solid intel please write in below. I’ve liked all the others in the series that I’ve reviewed so far (see here for the Ledaig, here for the Glentauchers, and here for the Orkney) and I’m hoping the streak will continue with this one.
Speyside 26, 1992 (51.5%; Archives; barrel; from a bottle split)
Nose: Pastry crust, toffee and sweet orchard fruit with a musky edge (peach, apricot). Really quite enticing. Some malt here too with time. With a few drops of water there’s a mild note of anise mixed in with the rest.
Palate: Comes in sweet and spicy, a lovely blend of fruit and oak. Very drinkable at full strength with a nice texture, slightly oily. On the second sip it’s maltier and there’s some lemon peel. The malt expands as it sits. Okay, let’s see what water does. It makes it a bit spicier and pulls out a slightly metallic note.
Finish: Medium. Nothing new here. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is excellent bourbon cask whisky. No fireworks but great balance of fruit, oak and malt, and no flaws whatsoever—the refinement of age is quite palpable. Not very much complexity either, however, and that’s what keeps it out of the next tier for me. Now this one I might indeed buy for the price being asked for it (but, of course, it’s not available anywhere near me). Better neat I think.
Rating: 89 points.