Grains were starting to worry me there for a bit. I can’t say the fear has been entirely alleviated, but I’m starting to relax my guard a bit. I was beginning to think that grain whisky was the new NAS. You know…a cheap, mass-produced product that required little investment on the part of the big brands and would help ease pressure on maturing malt stocks. Haig Club was a prime example of how bad it could get if we allowed the narrative to continue unchecked.
Fortunately, most of the grain whisky we’re seeing (almost entirely via the indie bottlers) is being showcased with a substantial amount of age behind it. Usually at least two or three decades. It’s this sweet spot (actually, I’d argue that maybe it’s more like the fourth or fifth decades) in which grain whisky really shines. Kinda like the awkward and gawky little sister who finally emerges – chrysalis-like – from her teen years to be the princess her parents always knew she was.
Yet even with age statements that supercede my years (not by much anymore, sadly), I find grains largely miss the mark for me. There is a lack of complexity that brings them more in line with mature Canadian whisky than any other category. It serves to showcase just how important the malting process is to Scotch whisky. Those myriad layers of flavour and aroma simply don’t develop the same when the distillers are using maize, wheat, rye or unmalted barley as their mashbill. Not to say those can’t all be great in their own right, but examples of spectacular expressions are much more few and far between than in the single malt sphere.
This Invergordon from 1972 is a bit of a gem. Not a pristine diamond, but a precious stone nevertheless. There is a sparkling purity here that is easy to fall for. And even more easy to become enamoured with? The price. $400, give or take. For a four decade old dram, that is a steal.
Nose: Soft-smoked caramel notes. Toasted oak. Crème Brulee. Steamed milk. Nougat. Pine and eucalyptus. Brioche. Old notebooks. Furniture polish. Soft chocolate.
Palate: A surprisingly vibrant palate. Super-creamy and easygoing. Fresh woods. Raw almond notes all over this one. Faint marmalade. Hot cross buns. Toasted marshmallow. More on those warm toasty caramel aromas. But ultimately…a little too woody. That kinda negates what would have been a lovely finish.
Thoughts: I like it. A lot. But it’s short term relationship kinda stuff. Not a full blown love affair.
– Image & words: Curt