This is my second review of a malt from the erstwhile Braes of Glenlivet, now Braeval. I was not terribly enthused by the previous one, a 1997 vintage from Cadenhead’s. This whisky was released by the now-defunct Glenhaven and is from an earlier era. I quite liked an Auchroisk of the same vintage that they released at the same time as this and so I’m hopeful.
Braes of Glenlivet, 1977-1997 (49.3%; Glenhaven; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Toasted wood, light caramel, cinnamon butter (is that a real thing?). Gets quite malty. After a minute or two there’s quite a lot of honey and apricot and the wood is more polished than toasted now. There’s also more wood spice and notes of rye in particular. Very nice. With a drop of water the maltiness expands at first and then the fruit gets muskier and creamier.
Palate: Far hotter than I expected at 49.3%. The wood, malt, honey and apricot make the strongest impressions, roughly in that sequence. The apricot brightens out into something more citrussy (somewhere between lemon and orange) and there’s more bite from the wood spice on the second sip. And in general the wood gets stronger. Okay, let’s add water. Water pushes the wood back a bit and brings out a lot of pepper and some lemon.
Finish: Long. The fruit leads out into the wood but it’s the malt that seems to linger the most. With time the wood trumps the rest.
Comments: I liked this a lot on the nose but there was just a little too much wood on the palate and finish. It’s certainly not overly woody or tannic but just felt a little out of balance. While water pushed the wood back a bit, on the whole, I think I preferred it without. Not bad at all though and more evidence of how much good whisky is produced at unheralded distilleries.
Rating: 84 points.
Thanks to bpbleus for the sample!