Since the last takeover of this distillery – by Harvey’s in 2013 – the name of the whisky was changed from the rather pompous and confusing Speyside to simply Spey. This is quite a young distillery, in fact. George Christie started building it in 1962 (ten years after he had built the North of Scotland grain distillery, by the way), but it took until 1987 before she was ready. Then another three years – 1990 – until the first spirit trickled from the stills. This is an important tidbit in this case, as I am about to try a single cask from that very first year, released in only 250 bottles by the new owners in 2016.
The nose is very nutty. Think hazelnuts, almonds and even salted peanuts. Some nougat. Vanilla and barley sugar take care of the sweetness, but I would not call this fruity. Some pear, maybe? There is a sour note that I do not like. Soft spices. All in all a very light and innocent nose, much younger than the quarter century maturation merits.
It starts very sweet and spicy (pepper, nutmeg, liquorice), almost piquant on the palate, but then suddenly a huge bitterness kicks in. I cannot help but think this was a very tired cask, but this malt is clearly spirit-driven. Not much going on here.
The finish is bittersweet, with the emphasis on bitter. Pity.
I understand the new owner’s urge to release a cask from the early days, from a nostalgic point of view. But this is not very good and thus not worthy of its high price tag. Thanks for the sample, Tom.