This upcoming release from Cooley is the oldest grain whiskey they have released to date. I bench-marked it against the 8 year old.
Nose: I usually find grain whiskey, even when it's quite tasty, to be somewhat muted on the nose but this has an immediate zingy freshness and lot's of banana. The banana notes start out as green banana skin but develop to very ripe mashed banana. The trademark Greenore corn and milk notes are in evidence but the chemically metallic notes of the younger expression are replaced by a more appealing liveliness.
Taste: Thicker, smoother and more complex than the 8 year old, I can see why they are bottling this at 46%. It's mellowed with age and can cope with the extra ABV. In fact the higher alcohol content really carries the flavours and probably contributes to the more oily mouthfeel.
Younger grain spirit is often harsh and chemically but the 18 years this has spent in the cask have removed all that. Instead we have an abundance of vanilla building to tropical fruit, a touch of menthol then drying out with some grassy notes. Finally creamy sweet notes take us to the finish.
Finish: Creamy egg custard with vanilla pod, the oily texture making it linger. A delightfully long finish.
I've recently tasted the 8, 15 and 18 year old Greenore expressions. The 8 year old has won many fans, myself included. To my palate the 15 year old - whilst a more grown up version - had lost some of the exuberance and sweetness along the way. If the 15 year old is a work in progress the 18 year old is the finished article. The sweetness from the 8 year old is back but with a thicker mouthfeel, added fruit, far more elegance and a longer finish.
For me the 8 year old is cornflakes and warm milk but the 18 year old is caramelised corn fritters with crème anglaise. If you like Greenore 8 you are going to love this.