This new whisky is the second bottling in the rare super premium Epicurean Odyssey series from The Singleton range of single malts. The Singleton of Glen Ord 39 years old follows an inaugural release that was bottled at 38 years of age and has been created by Maureen Robinson, the Master of Malt for The Singleton. For this series she has taken inspiration from her travels around the wine growing regions of southern Europe.
The whisky has undergone a lengthy 27 year period of secondary maturation, which is the longest ever for any Singleton bottling. After 12 years Robinson split a pocket of stock from the Glen Ord distillery between a number of European oak casks. These had previously held either Oloroso or Pedro Ximenez sherry, Port or red wine. Then 27 years later she has married the whiskies back together for a short finishing period in ex-Bordeaux red wine casks from France.
The Glen Ord distillery is located in Muir of Ord, a small town in the north Highlands on the western edge of the Black Isle. It was founded in 1838 by Thomas Mackenzie and was originally known as Glen Oran. The name was changed to Glen Ord in 1923. The current owners are Diageo. They split the single malt produced there between The Singleton range and use within their extensive number of blended Scotch whiskies. The current production capacity is six million litres per year. This has doubled in the last decade following an major expansion.
The Singleton of Glen Ord 39 years old is bottled at 46.2% ABV and is restricted to just 1,695 bottles. It is available through specialist whisky, spirits and luxury retailers in selected global markets, and via www.malts.com. Each bottle will cost £2,295/ $2,680 US.
Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden amber and the nose is highly fragrant and expressive. Aromas of spiced Christmas cake and toasted almonds lead the way. These are closely followed by dried fruits (think of raisins, orange and Cognac-soaked sultanas), toffee, caramel and increasingly warming spices and gingerbread.
On the palate this whisky has a rich and viscous feel, and is equally as expressive as on the nose. Initial notes of dried fruit (especially plump Cognac-soaked sultanas and candied orange) and crumbly muscovado sugar lead the way. They are joined by a spicy and woody savoury quality. Toasted spices (imagine cinnamon bark, mace and clove in particular, along with hints of star anise and juniper) and tannic oak are prominent and continue to develop nicely. Underneath are further notes of vanilla custard, apple strudel and a suggestion of treacle tart. A pinch of cocoa powder and hints of milk chocolate and preserved lemon round things off.
The finish is long, warming and luxurious. A pinch of all-spice and ginger accentuates the deliciuosly fruity and sweet notes. As these characteristics fade it is the woody, spicy and savoury notes that begin to dominate. This gives an increasing dryness along with a distinct dusty earthy feel.
What's the verdict?
Even within our lines of work and as 'whisky influencers' we do not get to sample and review whiskies of this age very often. This latest old Singleton is exquisite and is so multi-layered in its flavour profile. To have the foresight and skill to 'finish' a whisky for nearly three decades is also extraordinary.
This is fabulous, but clearly not a whisky for everyone given the rarity and price. That said, it is a whisky for someone and we hope that they choose to drink it rather than display it on a shelf or flip it on an auction sight. It deserves to be tasted and shared.