Mannochmore 1978-1998 (Scott’s Selection)

Speyside week continues but today we’ll jump back almost two decades from Monday’s Glenburgie, all the way back to 1978 when this Mannochmore was distilled. It was bottled 20 years later by the enigmatic Scott’s Selection who never specified ages or cask types. This is either 19 or 20 years old but what’s not in any doubt is that it’s a bourbon cask. This is one of many Scott’s Selection bottles from non-name distilleries that hung around in the US for, well, decades after they were released—you can probably still find this Mannochmore on shelves somewhere. Of course, there’s non-name distilleries and then there is Mannochmore, which might be said to have a negative name considering it was the distillery behind the notorious Loch Dhu—if you’ve never tried it consider yourself lucky. Well, in 1978 Mannochmore was a young distillery, only having been founded seven years previously, and still a long way away from distilling the spirit that was dyed black to make Loch Dhu. It was built to produce spirit for blends for Diageo’s previous incarnation, DCL and have continued to produce spirit for blends for Diageo—though I believe they were mothballed for much of the 1980s. I’ve not had much experience with their malt from any decade—and this is only my first review of a Mannochmore on the blog. It’s a bottle I stared at on the shelves of a local’ish store for many years before deciding to chance my arm and now I’ve finally opened it. Let’s see what it’s like.

Mannochmore 1978-1998 (58.3%; Scott’s Selection; from my own bottle)

Nose: Lemon, grass (but not lemongrass) along with a note somewhere between mineral oil and damp cardboard (that’s an odd continuum, I know). There’s an earthy, almost peaty quality (hot tarmac) as well that works rather well with the rest. As it sits there’s some slightly sour oak and then a sweeter, bready/porridgy note. With a lot more time the cardboard and sour oak fade and it’s the lemon and bread in the lead now. Water mellows it out further pulling out some creamy notes and then the muskier fruit from the palate makes an appearance.

Palate: Comes in acidic and more than a bit hot. The bite is from both the alcohol and the oak which is more palpable here. As it sits the lemon expands and there’s some muskier, sweeter fruit too that pops out to join it (pineapple?). Water pushes the oak back and pulls out more lemon and yes, some pineapple. It’s suddenly turned into a quite fruity whisky.

Finish: Long. Not very interesting. The lemon picks up here too with time and then there’s a bit of salt at the very end. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Fairly austere at first, this is quite reminiscent of some other Speyside and highlands from the 1970s I’ve had.  With a few drops of water it gets quite fruity indeed—on both the nose and palate—and jumps up a level.

Rating: 87 points. (Probably 83 if only drinking neat for some reason.)


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