The older you get, the harder it becomes to enjoy whisky that is older than you are. I actually prefer whiskies in the 14-16 year age bracket, I don’t like the domineering wood notes in very old whiskies (of course there are exceptions), but there is something intriguing about drinking a spirit that was distilled before you were born and sat in casks as all that time passed it by.
With the whisky boom of recent years, finding a single malt whisky over the 30 year mark can be prohibitively expensive, which is unfortunate as there’s something special about finding your favorite malt from a certain year or of a certain age to celebrate certain landmark events (I was lucky enough to get hold of a sample of 30 year old Brora for my 30th birthday). But there are some alternative solutions.
One of the good ones is Single Grain Whisky. This is grain whisky (the ‘other stuff’ that goes in blends), usually distilled in column stills from a variety of grains, usually a mixture of barley, corn and wheat. Grain whisky doesn’t pack much flavour in the distillate due to the distillation method, but if aged for a long time it can show off some fantastic wood notes. This is why you’ll generally only find older bottlings of the stuff when bottled as is.
This particular bottle was from a bottling done by Whiskybase.com, a massive database of whiskies (highly recommended) to celebrate 70,000 bottles on record. It was sold at a relatively low price of around 145 euros. So obviously they flew off the shelves faster than anyone could blink.
Aged 43 years. 49.7%ABV. Matured in a bourbon barrel. No colourants added, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength from a single cask numbered 13-04
Nose: A huge note of Bostik craft glue, filled the room as soon as I poured actually. Acetone. Woody vanilla. The wood is a bit domineering here, but underneath there’s some juicy citrus and tropical fruit. Bit of marzipan. Olive oil. Some aromatic herbal notes like wintergreen and camphor develop after a while. Some dry leaves.
Palate: Rich wood. Acetone. Loads of vanilla. Quite sweet, lots of corn spirit in here. Herbal honey. Marzipan. Peanut brittle. Some more citrus hiding under the wood. Tropical fruit notes are a bit more noticeable now, and they feel kind of…. jammy?
Finish: Long. Marzipan. Vanilla. Dry wood. Peanuts. A little coconut and some of the mint stuff from those chocolate mint thins.
Would I buy this: No
Would I order this in a bar: Yes
Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes
I must say that all the wood notes of a well aged single malt were present in this, so if you’re the kind of whisky drinker who buys the older stuff to actually drink it, rather than just have on your shelf to show off, older single grains like this would definitely be worth trying.
For me personally these huge, bold wood notes are not my style, but this one was worth trying purely for the intrigue of trying something that has aged for so long. It reminded me of some very old bourbons I’ve tried and probably has a high corn content. It was very rich and a great evening sipper.