Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New release - Glengoyne 1990 Auld Enemy

Glengoyne, 15 miles from the centre of Glasgow, is the most southerly Highland distillery in Scotland. Straddling the Highland/Lowland line that defines Highland malt distilleries from Lowland malt distilleries, it is in the unique position of having the distillery buildings located in the Highlands and the warehouses across the road located in the Lowlands. Back in the day Glengoyne was sometimes even referred to as Lowland malt but these days the distillery is very proudly a Highland whisky.

Founded in 1833, at the foot of the Blairgar burn from which it takes it water, the distillery was ideally located to serve the growing population in Glasgow. Indeed, before this time the area was known as a hotbed of illegal whisky production, with illicit distillers taking advantage of its remote and rugged terrain and the opportunities to make a quick buck in the nearby markets of the central belt.

The Auld Enemy bottling is a single cask whisky from 1990 which has been released in conjunction with the inaugural Auld Enemy dinner and auction celebrating the England/Scotland rugby rivalry over the years. All proceeds from the dinner, auction and the whisky will go towards the Help for Heroes fund and the Bill McLaren Foundation. Bottled from a sherry butt at a strength of 54.4%, there are only 300 bottles available of this whisky. It is only available direct from the distillery or from Royal Mile Whiskies for £175.

Our tasting notes
So intense and complex. Surprisingly nosable at full strength. Sweet and creamy at first, reminding me of chocolate éclairs, a bittersweet note of vanilla and burnt sugar akin to crème brulee comes next. There the French based dessert theme ends and a mulchy, forest floor aroma comes along and then the whole thing gets all fruity, reminding me of prune juice or grape juice, maybe cherry juice, possibly all three. Also Demerara rum and bananas – there’s something here that reminds me a little of El Dorado. I’m getting different things every time I take a sniff; treacle toffee, fruit cake, ginger cake, fresh mint. There’s also a little crispy duck aroma that’s making me hungry. Some bitter notes too; coffee, echinacea concentrate. With water there’s some lovely baked apple and pear aromas, it also gets pleasantly citrusy with some orange peel and there’s also some sugary elements too, reminding me of barley twists and flat coke.

Forceful on the palate, where there’s vanilla fudge at first but it gets spicier and dryer as time goes by. Sweet and spicy drying notes combine to give malt loaf, pine honey, ginger, cinnamon, fennel seeds. The finish is like liquid raisin juice. There’s a mildy pleasant drying mouthfeel throughout. With water it settles down, it’s more bitter and spicy at first with a nice oakiness alongside liquorice, fennel seeds and aniseed. It’s towards the finish where it gets sweeter with a juicy, Demerara fruitiness like fruit salad and caramel. There’s some spearmint and Juicy Fruit chewing gum on the finish that hangs around for ages.

What’s the verdict?
Well, you can certainly file this one under the “sherry monster” category but unlike some heavily sherried whiskies it’s neither too bitter and dry nor dirty and sulphuric. Even then, these sorts of whiskies are not to everyone’s tastes, some people preferring a little more balance between cask and spirit character but in my opinion when these heavily sherried whiskies are good, they can be very, very good indeed and the Auld Enemy is one of those “very good indeed” ones. Having said that, it is still a little pricy for a 21 year old but it’s an excellent, complex whisky and the money goes to a worthy cause.

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