Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Have just tried (Speyside edition) ... Glentauchers 1991 from Gordon & MacPhail

glentauchers 1991 from gordon & macphailGlentauchers (pronounced glen-tock-us) is one of Scotland’s least known distilleries. It is located in the village of Glentauchers, which is close to the Speyside town of Keith. The distillery was founded in 1897 by two Glasgow whisky merchants – James Buchanan and W. P. Lowrie – who wanted to start there own blending business. Buchanan’s Black & White, one of their original blended whiskies, is still on the market today and continues to use the well known logo of one black and one white dog that Buchanan designed himself . The current owners are Chivas Brothers, who are part of the larger Pernod Ricard group.

Despite the anonymity of Glentauchers, it is actually quite a large distillery with an annual production capacity of 4.5 million litres. Nearly all of this whisky is assigned to the blending market and Glentauchers whisky contributes to some world famous blends such as the Chivas Regal range and Ballantine’s. As a result, there is little left to be released as a single malt and Glentauchers is pretty much non existent. The only way to sample it is through the independent bottling companies and even these are scarce.

On our recent trip to Speyside, we saw a bottle behind the bar of the Mash Tun pub in Aberlour and we just had to try this rare whisky. This single malt is released by the independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail, who are based in the city of Elgin. This forms part of their regular range and remains one of the only consistent sources of Glentauchers on the market. A bottle should cost around £30-35 and will be found in selected whisky retailers or on Gordon & MacPhail’s website.

This Glentauchers 1991 is bottled by Gordon & MacPhail at 18 years of age and is brown amber in colour. The nose is aromatic with plenty of sherry cask influence - dried fruits (think of raisins, sultanas and prunes), hints of spice (especially cinnamon) and burnt sugar/caramel. There is also some sweet malty cereal grains and a hint of grassiness (imagine dried grasses or hay). On the palate, this is rich, soft and smooth with the sherry cask characteristics (the dried fruits, spice and caramel again) combining with some vanilla, sweet cereals, a distinct and slightly bitter nutty note (think of something like walnuts) and just the hint of some dark chocolate or cocoa. The combination is lovely and complex and makes you wonder why more of this whisky is not made available. The finish is again rich with the sweetness from the malted barley and the sherry balanced by the slightly bitter grassy, nutty and chocolate elements.

This is an very pleasant and intriguing dram that surprised us with its complexity and quality. It offers extremely good value for money also, when you consider that you are buying an 18 years old whisky from a rare distillery for £30-35. We are definitely glad that we tasted this whisky from a distillery that we had never tried before.

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