On Monday I had a review of a Braes of Glenlivet/Braeval. Speyside week continues now with another relatively obscure distillery: Glen Elgin. This is only my third review of a Glen Elgin, which may be reliable indicator of how little Glen Elgin is generally available in the American market. It was bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society at the tender age of 10 from a first-fill bourbon barrel. That combination of age and cask type sets off some warning bells but hopefully the whisky will rise above. The venerable society named this one “Aloha!”. I’m not sure what the reason for that is but at least it fits with my ongoing food reports from Hawaii, Okay, let’s get to it.
[Actually, before I get to it, I should note that this Speyside week might well grind to a halt with this Glen Elgin. This because I had not—as I thought I had—taken notes on the third whisky of the set before leaving for Ireland, where I’ve been for a week now on work. I get back home tonight but jet lag may keep me from having the wherewithal to review anything till the end of the week. Let’s see how it goes.]
Glen Elgin 10, 2007 (60.9%; SMWS 85.49; first-fill bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)
Nose: Honey and toasted oak off the top with some floral notes below; the alcohol is quite palpable too. On the second sniff the oak expands a bit more than I would like, with a bit of a raw edge. The floral notes expand as well, turning sweeter and fruitier (pineapple, lemon). Thankfully, the oak seems to ease as it gets some air and the fruit comes to the fore (some dragonfruit joining the lemon which gets muskier). A few drops of water (probably taking it down to the mid-50s abv-wise) and there’s more acid and less oak.
Palate: Comes in with the fruit and oak (much lighter than I’d feared). It’s approachable enough at full strength but the alcohol is clearly compressing the flavours. Nice, oily texture. On the second sip there’s more oak extract and the fruit is in abeyance. It begins to open up with a fair bit of time and air in the glass: less oak now and more lemon peel along with floral sweetness. Okay, let’s add water. Well, it makes it more approachable still but I can’t say it makes it more interesting.
Finish: Medium. Nothing new here. I imagine time and water will change that. Nope, there’s no development here with time or water: just the stuff from the palate fading out. The finish is longer with water.
Comments: A big oak-driven bruiser that doesn’t deliver on its early promise of fruit. And fairly anonymous too. Would it be better with a few more years in the cask? Probably; and it would almost certainly be better if the cask had been refill and not first-fill ex-bourbon.
Rating: 82 points.