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I had always pronounced this whisky as Elgin with a soft "g" until Mick, the Publican of Highland Stillhouse in Oregon City, said it correctly, and I realized my error. The other night, Mick went on to say that he enjoys Glen Elgins a great deal as oft-overlooked gems.
I tend to agree with him, and I felt fairly nostalgic drinking my dram of Glen Elgin D&T 12 Year outdoors, from high atop a rocky perch overlooking the Willamette River.
As I sipped my drink leisurely, I could not help thinking back to a time in the world when subtle hogshead offerings like the one in my hand were commonplace, before all of the emphasis on fancy sherry casks and dazzlingly exotic flavors, or even astronauts launching a batch of some distiller's latest offering into outer space, for crying out loud.
A WELL-CRAFTED HOGSHEAD-AGED WHISKY EXUDES NOSTALGIA: Yes, it is fair to say this D&T Glen Elgin 12 Year reminded me of the Cold War . . . in a good way, if that is possible. And by that, I mean in a nostalgic way that harkens back to good spy novels in the 1970's and the well crafted films that were made based upon them and did not rely upon CGI evocations & invocations to build a good plot.
If I ever buy a whole bottle of Glen Elgin (which is quite difficult to find in America, by the way) then I vow to drink a dram or two whilst watching the film, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Gary Oldman makes drinking scotch so dignified as George Smiley in that film. His use of big whisky tumblers, along with large frame eyeglasses, both of which need to be propped up on occasion, in semi-lit offices and his home's den, made me almost feel as though I had been a grown up during those years with my own office for after hours drinking, and my own den.
Then again, I was a boy way back then in the 70's, and my memory of the time period is backlit with a myriad accumulation of the simple wonders and fancies of youth--when one's body & brain are functioning optimally with a fine hum, and one is growing stronger and manlier year by year, approaching adulthood, rather than feeling a touch weaker, year by year, as one is nudged by time, along with the not-so-subtle hints of a culture that has been trained to obsess on Youth with a capital "Y." At times like these, Oldmans and Oldsters generally find themselves being encouraged to move in the general direction of Ye Olde Bone Yard.
Tinker Tailor is a very good "whisky" film (not least of which because the characters drink scotch more often than in most other contemporary films) and the camera does not frenetically toss the viewer into a "gamer" mentality with cuts every few seconds in scenes that accelerate and decelerate faster than a "warcraft" video game.
The 1970's was a time when a sizable percentage of the whisky market was expected to be mature and restrained rather than bombastically sweet or smoky.
Yes, I know, James Bond drank Talisker, yada yada yada, but generally speaking, the "zen-like" quality of a good hogshead offering was favored and appreciated by the general public (including women, and might I add that my wife dearly loved the dram of 12 Year Glen Elgin at the Highland Stillhouse, even if she began badgering me about my latest whisky purchases and vowing to stop drinking scotch with me because it encouraged me to buy more good scotch than I should).
Whisky drinking in Tinker Tailor makes one long for the good old days when propaganda was less "in your face," as opposed to these days with media blitzkriegs like the Snowden "snow-job" which seems to be designed/commandeered(?) to externalize the heirarchy of ubiquitous computerized spying so that Joe Bag of Doughnuts walking down the Street begins to look over his shoulder and feel as if Big Brother is keeping tabs on him.
After all, the most effectively controlling forms of national socialism always tend to rely upon citizens feeling watched, when in actuality only a very small percentage of them ARE actually being "monitored" so to speak, whereas the vast majority are being programmed by video programming that appears on their monitors at home, in the office, in their cell phones, or for some dinosaurs like us, still relies upon mental imagery generated by radio talk shows and song lyrics.
TASTING NOTES: Yes, that well known tangerine signature scent comes through wonderfully but not in an "in your face" way; toasted barley grain; clover honey, vanilla.
As for the tangerine essence, one can't detect it with one's nose in the glass; rather, one must move the glass away a few inches and then it comes through quite nicely, though more as an afterthought than a dominant note.
Palate: Vanilla; a noticeable lack of anything woody or oaky which is kind of nice once in a while; cafe au lait; honeycomb.
Finish: Longer than one would expect; vanilla; mellow grains; honey butter on English muffin toast.
FINAL THOUGHTS: All in all, I enjoyed the Glen Elgin a great deal.
It is interesting to note that this whisky's throw-back charm to years gone by evokes pleasure from what it does not possess, as much or more than from what it does.
I am reminded of the importance of the power of the "tacet" to certain musical arrangements and symphonies and arrangements that capitalize upon "rests" from playing, thereby helping to enrich the overall composition immensely.
Restraint can indeed be a welcome luxury in whisky and in music, though perhaps not so much in history.
If some folks (through a very powerful media apparatus) seek to convince the general public to think things are exactly as they seem, or things in reality are exactly as they are being presented, then I tend to get a wee bit suspicious, not in a paranoid or an extreme way, but rather more in an intellectual way, feeling that happy desire to analyze, consider and extrapolate, as in a nice leisurely game of chess.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (the film and the 1974 novel by John Le Carre) has that sort of intellectual "purr" to it, that lulls one into a sense of happy nostalgia.
Analyzing the "who, what, when, where" of this smooth stultifying "purr" in order to deduct a "why" is not unlike analyzing a glass of Glen Elgin 12 year, or 17+ year for that matter.
Thank you, Glen Elgin for a delightfully retro experience. I appreciate the deceptively simple pleasures of a well made classic whisky that exudes the power to say "no" when it comes to fancy marketing gimmickry, excessively high phenol levels merely for the sake of being high, exotic sherry and port-soaked woods,etc.
Less is indeed sometimes more. Films that take the time to build a scene without cutting on action every five seconds are like a classic scotch that exudes refinement and charm just by being itself.
I am quite interested to try older offerings, such as the 17 Year Old AD Rattray, and even older ones, up well nigh into two decades of a spirit growing stronger and more sophisticated in some great and solemn hogshead without being ushered to a "finishing school" in a fancy little cask from Spain or Portugal.
Let the spirit live and breathe in the ghostly silence of a hogshead, at least once in a while, that's what I say!