Glen Ord 9, 2011 (Signatory)

Alright, let’s keep highlands whisky week moving. My first review in February was of a Glen Ord and my first review of March is also of a Glen Ord. I rather liked that 11 yo from Cadenhead and am hoping this 9 yo from Signatory—bottled at an eye-watering 61.1%—will be as good. This one is from a bourbon barrel, and a first-fill barrel at that. Hopefully, that does not indicate very heavy oak influence. Let’s see.

Glen Ord 9, 2011 (61.1% Signatory; first-fill bourbon barrel 800324; from a bottle split)

Nose: Apple to start here too but much sweeter than in last month’s 11 yo and mixed with cereals, malt and candied lemon peel. As it sits some oak emerges as well and then it begins to get maltier and muskier with overripe pear joining the apple. With more time and air there’s some sweet melon and the malt expands as well, picking up some cream. With water the oak recedes and the malt and musky fruit expand; there’s some ripe berries in there too (for my South Asian readers: ber).  Continue reading


Glen Ord 11, 2006 (Cadenhead’s)

Northern highlands week began with a 15 yo Old Pulteney. We move 100 miles or so south now to Glen Ord. This is an 11 yo from a bourbon hogshead that my source says may have been a private cask split with Binny’s in Chicago. As it happens, there’s also a Glen Ord 11, 2006 with the same abv bottled by Cadenhead that is still available at some Total Wine outlets (though none in Minnesota). So maybe it was split between Binny’s and Total Wine? Or maybe the abv is just a coincidence: the Total Wine listing is not for a single cask by a small batch release. If you can solve this uninteresting mystery please write in below. Confusion about the source of this bottle aside, I am always happy to review a Glen Ord—which is something I don’t get to do very often. Bourbon cask Glen Ord, in particular, can be very good indeed (see, for example, the last indie cask I reviewed); and it’s rarely the case that it’s not at least solid, highly drinkable malt whisky—that’s true even of the official 12 yo Singleton of Glen Ord. Let’s see where this one falls. Continue reading

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12

The Singleton of Glen Ord is the Singleton release Diageo sends to the Asian market. Or at least it used to. Does it still do so? Is the Singleton series still on the go? These are questions for more informed people to answer. I did note that Diageo put a Singleton of Glen Ord 18 on their special release roster last year—though I don’t believe I’ve read any reviews of it. Anyone know what it was like?

I’d planned to review it when I first put it on the possible reviews list a few months ago. But LV33’s comment denigrating it put me off—I am a very impressionable sort, you see. But the sample sat around making sad eyes at me and I was no longer able to avoid it. Here, therefore, with some trepidation is my review.
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Glen Ord 18, 1996 (Blackadder)

Another whisky distilled in the 1990s, another Glen Ord. I wasn’t sure I was going to get to this one this month but after Diageo announced an 18 yo Singleton of Glen Ord as part of their 2019 slate of over-priced releases I figured the time was right: that if there was ever going to be a surge of interest in 18 yo Glen Ord it would be now; and who better than me to stand poised to ride that wave all the way to marginally less irrelevance than I now boast in the marketplace of content.

The last couple of teenaged Glen Ords I’ve had—including Tuesday’s 15 yo—have been very good but nothing very exciting. Let’s see if this 18 yo does a little more for me and makes me consider paying a large amount of money for the new Singleton 18 yo for a few minutes before I slap myself across the head for being a fucking idiot. Continue reading

Glen Ord 15, 1996 (Liquid Sun)

Day two of 1990s week is here and today I have a Glen Ord 15. (Yesterday I had a Laphroaig 19.) No, you’re not experiencing deja vu: I did recently review another Glen Ord 15 bottled by Liquid Sun. But that one was distilled in 1997, and this one in 1996. I liked that one but wasn’t blown away by it. Will this be better? Only one way to find out. Oh yes, you may think this is another untimely review but news broke yesterday that a Glen Ord is part of this year’s special release slate from Diageo. Therefore this is highly relevant content.

Anyone have any thoughts by the way on this year’s special releases? I was struck both by how few will be even sold in the US (an effect of the Scotch tariffs?) and by the fact that Diageo seems eternally committed to seeing if it can get people to shell out large sums of money for Mortlach: $2000 for a 26 yo Mortlach? I salute their shamelessness, I mean, their chutzpah! Meanwhile a 29 yo Pittyvaich produced in the exact same convoluted way will sell for $430. (Or will it? Only time will tell.) Meanwhile the Singleton of Glen Ord 18 begins to look like a bargain at $170. Almost. Well, since no one is likely to have anything to add about this Liquid Sun Glen Ord 15, I invite you to weigh in instead in the comments on Diageo’s latest excesses. Continue reading

Glen Ord 15, 1997 (Liquid Sun)

Here is the first of two Glen Ord 15s bottled by the Whisky Agency under their Liquid Sun label. This is a year older than the one I reviewed last month. I really liked the classic Ord mix of fruit and austere notes that one presented. Will this be as good? Let’s see.

Glen Ord 15, 1997 (49.9%; Liquid Sun; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Bright fruit (apples, lemon, pear) mixed in with musky malt and some bready/yeasty notes. Very Glen Ord, in other words. With time that malty note moves a bit in the direction of putty. Water pulls out more of the malt and the smoke from the palate shows up here too now (a sooty, waxy outline around the malt).

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Glen Ord 14, 1997 (The Whisky Agency)

Yesterday’s Old Pulteney 14 I described as being in the Clynelish-Glen Ord part of the spectrum. I guess I may as well round out bourbon cask, northern highlands week with an actual Glen Ord. On our trip to Scotland in June 2018 I’d considered stopping at Glen Ord as well but no one who’d been there seemed to think there was much there of interest to anyone but the completist distillery visitor. And that is not what I am. I am someone who leaps at the chance to drink Glen Ord though. It’s not a sexy distillery but I’ve had a lot of fine bourbon cask Glen Ord in my time. Let’s see if this is another of those.

Glen Ord 14, 1997 (50.4%; The Whisky Agency; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Tart fruit (lime peel, green apples, gooseberries), just a touch of prickly oak and something mineral. As it sits a nice malty note develops. With a couple of drops of water the fruit expands and it’s a little sweeter now. Continue reading

Glen Ord 31, 1983 (Cadenhead)

Okay, let’s do another older Glen Ord bottled by Cadenhead. This is 10 years older than Wednesday’s 21 yo (yes, that makes it 31 years old) and was bottled in 2014 from a single bourbon hogshead. I think this might be the oldest Glen Ord I’ve yet had. Considering how much I like the official 30 yo—and the fact that I really liked Wednesday’s 21 yo—I have my hopes up. Will they be fulfilled? Let’s see.

Glen Ord 31, 1983 (51%; Cadenhead; single bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Malty and a little bready off the top and then on the second sniff too. There’s some lemon and some wax as well but mostly it’s the malt that registers. After a minute or so fruit begins to emerge, mostly in the citrus family: lemon and grapefruit; some gooseberry too. Muskier with water and the lemon turns to citronella. Continue reading

Glen Ord 21, 1996 (Cadenhead)

Glen Ord, up in the northern highlands, is a curious case. A massive whisky factory pumping out spirit for Diageo’s blends, it nonetheless produces an austere spirit that can be very elegant indeed. It’s hard to take its measure, however. Diageo barely does anything with it—other than making it one of the three expressions in its Singleton range (I think the Singleton of Glen Ord is for the Asian market). And despite the high volume of spirit it pumps out there doesn’t seem to be as much of it available from the indies as one might expect either—at least not in the US. Cadenhead seem to be the only bottler that has been releasing casks of Glen Ord at a steady clip over the last few years. Despite this neglect Glen Ord has steadfast fans. And even though I cannot say I’ve had so very many Glen Ords I am one of them. I’m always looking to try more and so when I had the opportunity to get my hands on a few independent releases from the last decade, I went for it. First up is this 21 yo bottled by Cadenhead in 2017. Continue reading

Glen Ord 14, 2001 (SMWS)

Last week I posted a review of an unusual rum cask Laphroaig. Here now is a relatively unusual Glen Ord. The distillery is best known—in official and independent incarnations—for bourbon cask matured whisky. This release from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society was, however, bottled from a sherry butt—a second-fill oloroso butt, to be exact. As that’s not something you across every day, and as I really like Glen Ord, I decided to take a chance on this as well at auction. I was dissuaded only a little by the fact that I had no idea what the SMWS tasting committee’s name for this whisky, “Japanese omelettes with Dunkelweizen” might refer to. I was conscious of the fact that I was overpaying but, again, sherry cask Glen Ord is not something we come across regularly in the US. I’ve not previously reviewed any sherried Glen Ords and indeed I’m not sure if I’ve had any. So this should at least be interesting. Let’s see if it’s more than that.  Continue reading

Glen Ord 13, 2004 (Cadenhead’s)

We are leaving Orkney today and as we’ll be spending the night in the Highlands before heading down to Edinburgh tomorrow, I figured I’d post a review of another Highland malt. This is from a distillery not too far from where we’ll be putting up: Glen Ord. I’d had no plan to visit Glen Ord on this trip but when Aberlour disappointed me with the complete lack of a “distillery only” cask, I started grasping at straws for distilleries along the way to Dornoch that might have one. Accordingly, I called the Glen Ord visitor centre and asked if they had an exclusive. The person answering the phone helpfully informed me that all their whiskies are exclusive as they’re sold only in Southeast Asia and at the distillery; yes, I said, but do you have a cask that’s only available to visitors at the distillery. She repeated her information about the exclusivity of all Glen Ord bottles. Thinking that perhaps we had a case of battling Scottish and Indian/American accents on our ears, I handed the phone to a Canadian who has lived in Edinburgh for a year. She was met with the same response. All this to say that I did not go to Glen Ord after all. But this review is still trip-specific: it’s of a Glen Ord 13 that I purchased 200 ml of at Cadenhead’s in Edinburgh last week. It didn’t take long to disappear and I took notes as it did.  Continue reading

Glen Ord 18, 1997 (Montgomerie’s)

It’s been a while since Michael K. and I did a simultaneous review—in fact, I think, back then Sku may have been blogging for himself and not a liquor store; seems like so long ago now! Anyway, here is the first of three simul-reviews this month with Michael. We’ll be posting them on Fridays. They’re all of whiskies that, I believe, are/were exclusives for Total Wine. This Glen Ord and a Caol Ila 20 (next Friday) were bottled by Montgomerie’s, a brand I’ve not see anywhere except in Total Wine. The third, a Laphroaig 18 (the 27th), was bottled by Berry Bros. & Rudd, and while it doesn’t say anywhere on the label that it is a Total Wine exclusive, I do believe it was listed at the store I purchased these bottles from as a “Spirits Direct” selection, which is a Total Wine thing. By the way, I know nothing about Montgomerie’s other than that their releases are sold at Total Wine, but after purchasing these bottles for a split I coordinated, I noticed that the Montgomerie’s bottles are identical in shape to the distinctive Berry Bros. & Rudd tall bottles. Just a coincidence? Or are they in fact one of BB&R’s private selection lines? If you can confirm or deny, please write in below. As with all Montgomerie’s releases—as far as I’ve noticed—this is at 46%.  Continue reading

Glen Ord 28

Benromach isn’t the only distillery from the northern Speyside/Highlands region that I have not reviewed very many whiskies from. This is only my sixth review of a Glen Ord. Given that Glen Ord is a workhorse producer for blends—which means its casks are no strangers to the warehouses of brokers and independent bottlers—there’s less obvious reason for my not having reviewed very much Glen Ord than there is for Benromach. Especially as I rather like almost everything I’ve tasted from Glen Ord—though next month I will probably have a review of the Singleton 12 yo…Of the prestige bottlings that Diageo has seen fit to release, I’ve previously reviewed the 30 yo that was part of their 2005 Special Release slate and the 25 yo that was part of their 2004 Special Release. Here now is my review of the 28 yo that came out before both of those in 2003. I don’t think Glen Ord has shown up as a Special Release since 2005—presumably because their malt might have been diverted to feed the Singleton monster. Anyway, I hope Diageo will get around to releasing more official Glen Ord beyond the Singleton sometime soon. The marriage of orchard fruit and oak in Glen Ord can be really special.  Continue reading

Glen Ord 17, 1997 (Signatory for K&L)

I’ve noted a number of times that I was less than impressed with what I tasted of K&L’s selections for 2013 (most of which showed up in early 2014 for reasons outside their control). Despite having resolved to “try before buying” as far as possible for their future selections I was predictably unable to resist getting some of their 2014 selections when they showed up early this year. I’ve already reviewed one of these, the Hepburn’s Choice Craigellachie 18, which I quite liked. The other two that I purchased are both cask strength bottles from Signatory (though in the livery of the regular UCF series rather than the decanters—a change I welcome heartily). One is a Glenburgie 19 that I hope to review soon; the other is this Glen Ord 17. Both of these are distilleries whose malts I enjoy more often than not, and both of these are also distilleries whose malts are not often available in the US—which is my way of justifying my lack of self-control. Anyway, let’s see what this is like.

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Glen Ord 15, 1997 (Archives)

Glen Ord 1997, ArchivesThis Glen Ord was part of the fourth release of Whiskybase’s Archives series in 2012. I don’t think they’d started selling samples then and though I was very intrigued—I’ve not had too many Glen Ords but I’ve liked all the ones I’ve tried quite a lot—I was put off chancing my arm on a full bottle by the low scores it received from the Whiskybase community. And then I kind of forgot about it. Recently, however, I noticed it was still available at the store and that samples were now also available, and so here I am. What a deeply uninteresting introduction this has been. Let me see if I can manage another paragraph that can compete with it.

The Glen Ord distillery is the last distillery remaining on the Black Isle in the northern highlands. The Black Isle is not an island at all but a peninsula and therefore is not the setting of the early Tintin story, The Black Island, which was one of the first Tintins I ever read—the other was King Ottokar’s Sceptre. I believe The Black Island was my sister’s and the other was mine. There’s no distillery in The Black Island (and no Captain Haddock) but Tintin’s dog Snowy gets drunk on Loch Lomond whisky. Okay, this paragraph may possibly be more interesting than the previous; but the interesting bits are mostly redundant as I’ve gone over it all before here. What do I win? Continue reading

Glen Ord 12, 1998 (A.D. Rattray)

Glen Ord 12, 1998The number of Glen Ords I’ve tried does not pass single digits but I’ve liked every single one I’ve tried (the only ones I’ve reviewed so far are two of the older official releases, here and here). Will this 12 yo from A.D. Rattray keep the streak going? Let’s see.

Glen Ord 12, 1998 (60.1%; bourbon cask #24; from my own bottle)

Note: This review was written up when the bottle was freshly opened. The accompanying photograph of the bottle was taken a couple of days later. In the intervening period it was the star of our local group’s most recent tasting, and hence the much lowered level.

Nose: A little spirity and closed at first–not surprising given the strength and the fact that this is a freshly opened bottle. I’m going to let it sit for a bit. With the benefit of air and time there’s some grassy citrus and some vanilla and oak, but this is still pretty tight. With a lot more time this begins to open up, and now there’s teasing hints of tropical fruit along with some stewed apple and pastry crust. Water brings the fruit out to the front, and it’s not tropical fruit as much as it is good old lemon, and mostly lemon peel/preserved lemon at that. Some malty sweetness to go with it too. A little later the hints of tropical fruit are back. Continue reading

Glen Ord 25

Glen OrdI’ve previously reviewed the excellent Glen Ord 30; today, the Glen Ord 25 which was released a couple of years prior. The actual bottle is far more attractive–and identical to that of the 30 yo–than this repurposed miniature in which I received my sample from another whisky geek. Back in the mid-2000s Diageo released a number of these Glen Ords in their annual special releases–in addition to the 25 and 30 there was also a 28 yo. I guess the 30 yo (released in 2005) really didn’t sell well; there’s been nothing from Glen Ord since then (other than the regular younger entries in the range).

Glen Ord 25 (58.3%; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Bright and acidic at first but then sweet malty notes emerge. Quite a lot of honey too, and some pepper and brine. Gets quite lemony with some hints of ripe peach and apricot. And with more time it really gets quite briny and then later still, the lemon takes over again, bringing more pepper with it. Gets a little maltier and dustier with water, and the lemon gets a little pickled (my few Indian readers are the only ones likely to get this reference: it reminds me a little of Fabindia’s antique lime pickle). Continue reading

Glen Ord 30, 2005 Release

Glen Ord 30

Inside this ugly shoebox is a rather attractive bottle.

Glen Ord is located in the northern Highlands, in the same part of Scotland, generally, as Balblair, Pulteney, Clynelish and Glenmorangie. And in my limited experience there’s a significant intersection in the profiles of the whiskies from these distilleries (I am referring here to the classic Glenmorangie profile, and not to all their experimental finishes etc.). Their mainline malts generally eschew sherry, and (with the occasional exception of Clynelish) they generally have a very light hand with the peat as well. The profile tends, therefore, to be relatively austere with the fruit mostly in the apple/pear family with the occasional stone fruit, and the emphasis coming from briny notes rather than smoke.

Some would say that it is in this profile that you come closest to tasting what Scotch whisky is all about, away from the extremes of sherry or peat. I am not a fundamentalist in that sense but I have come to enjoy it far more than I did when I first started drinking single malts in anything but a casual manner–in the beginning, I fear, I found it a little boring. I don’t mean to suggest that this a common or necessary evolutionary development but it took me a while to begin to appreciate the subtler charms of this style of whisky. It was a cask strength 11 yo Glen Ord, 1998 from Signatory (cask 3475) that first opened my eyes and so when I found this bottle quite deeply discounted a few years ago I jumped on it. This was part of Diageo’s annual special release in 2005, and I guess the lack of familiarity of the name kept it from selling out. These days it’s mostly available, where it is, closer to the list price of $250, but you can still find it for considerably less if you look hard enough. I certainly think it’s worth the trouble.

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