Glen Elgin 16, Diageo Special Release, 2008

I know most of you set your clocks and calendars by my blog posting schedule and so it would be irresponsible of me to not say very clearly that today is not Wednesday. Yes, my second whisky review of the week is usually posted on Wednesdays, with Tuesday being my restaurant review day. But for boring reasons we don’t need to go into, I don’t have a restaurant review post ready today. That post—my look at a bunch of meals eaten at Grand Szechuan over the course of the year—will be published tomorrow. Today, I have for you the second in this week’s series of reviews of sherried malts.

Monday’s Ben Nevis was released in 2010. This review is no more timely. It is of a Glen Elgin 16 that was part of Diageo’s Special Release slate in 2008. Like the Ben Nevis, it is another bottle that I purchased more than a decade ago and kept around for no good reason. Like the Ben Nevis, it’s open now and here are my notes.

Glen Elgin 16, Diageo Special Release, 2008 (58.5%; European oak; from my own bottle)

Nose: Quite earthy to start with a bit of gunpowder and dried orange peel mixed in there. Some bitter oak on the second and third sniffs and some old coins as well. The citrus brightens up a bit and expands as it sits and the earthy notes move in the direction of rotting leaves; the gunpowder recedes. A few drops of water push the oak and the earthy and metallic notes back and pull out some cream and some toffee to go with the orange.

Palate: Comes in as indicated by the nose but with the citrus in the lead and the leaves and metallic notes following. A big bite at full strength as expected and meaty texture. The citrus is brighter here too with time, moving from orange to lemon (and it stops just short of being fizzy). More leaves and some damp oak with time. Okay, let’s add water. As on the nose, it pushes the earthy, bitter notes back; the orange gets sweeter here

Finish: Long. The citrus expands and then softer notes emerge as it fades—malt, cream, a hint of pastry crust. Develops as on the palate with time and water.

Comments: The combination of European oak and Glen Elgin’s worm tubs—which means less copper contact in the distillation process—seem to have combined to produce an earthy, savoury whisky. This is not one for the true sulphur-phobe. It’s not a big, fruity sherry bomb in the style of a Glendronach; instead it’s one of those whiskies that is both heavily sherried and quite austere in its own way. You might call that an old-school profile. Right now it’s a bit too rough around the edges for me. I’ll be interested to see how it develops as the bottle stays open—I’ll report if there’s any significant change.

Rating: 86 points.



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