@Talexander has been known to frequent an auction or two. In January I was visiting him to conduct some whisky business, and he gifted me a number of miniatures he had procured in auctions in the past. This was one of them.
To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever tasted an Inchgower. I know very little about the distillery. A brief google search informed me that this Highland distillery was built in 1871. Apparently only 1% of the distillate is bottled as a single malt, the majority of the juice going into Bell’s and Johnnie Walker. Official bottlings are very rare. There have been a number of independent bottlings of which this is one.
I’m really excited to try this. First of all, it’s a new distillery to me. But most of all, it is rare that I get to try a whisky that began its maturation in the 1970s.
For a miniature, it provides some interesting information on the tiny label. It is a single cask (12465). It’s labelled as bottle 108 of 1580. It’s unclear to me whether all the numbered bottles were 50 cc or if some were full-size bottles. Given that it is listed as 15 years old and distilled in 1979, I calculate that it was bottled about 28 years ago, so I don’t expect to find out.
This expression is reviewed using a 15 cc pour into a Brilliant Highland Whisky Glass, in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water (only a little, it’s only 43%, waiting, then nosing and tasting.
I rarely comment on appearance. Colour is irrelevant, and this is as light as a chardonnay. What really grabs my attention though is how the whisky clings to the glass when I tilt it. There are no “legs". The whisky coats the glass and returns to the bottom as one entity. I’ve never seen this before in a spirit.
Sweet and sour, and slightly grainy is the first impression. Light fruit syrup. Fresh green apple. Mild but pleasant nose. Water has no effect on the nose.
Spicy arrival at first. It’s slightly spirity. Slightly grainy. Very fruity. Green, sour fruits (like tart apples). Fairly thin mouthfeel, it has a bit more body than I would normally expect at this low ABV. Water washes out the flavours quite a bit. It becomes very uninteresting. (16/25)
Peppery and fairly short, mildly astringent.
The nose and the palate are complimentary. Water, even a few drops, seems to destroy this. (15/25)
Score: Neat - 83.5/100 With Water: 72.5 /100
Miniatures are always a gamble, especially old ones. If this was distilled in 1979, it was bottled around 1994, 28 years ago. Depending on how it was stored, it’s unclear how today’s tasting compares to what it was like when it was put in the bottle. So please take this score with a grain of salt.
I would have expected a 15 year old whisky to have a bit more complexity. Perhaps by diluting it to 43% some of the subtler flavours were lost.
I’m thankful to @Talexander for giving me the opportunity to taste this.