Saturday, April 29, 2017

These Are The Resurrected

This month's line up!
For April's tasting, Stina put together a line-up of whiskies from distilleries which had closed for a time, but which are now firmly back in production. Resurrected distilleries if you will. Well, it is Easter (ish).

Glen Keith 17yo
We tried them in pairs, with two bottles apiece from three distilleries. And the first place we visited was Glen Keith which hails from, perhaps unsurprisingly, the town of Keith in Aberdeenshire.

Probably best known as a regular in-joke on Sky's Soccer Saturday - where host Jeff Stelling enjoys kidding on that the town's Highland League side consists of just one bloke called Keith (Nurse! My sides!) - the town's eponymous distillery was mothballed for 14 years and only resumed service in 2013, under the ownership of Pernod Ricard (via Chivas).

Glen Keith 10yo
The first dram was a 17yo bottling, by way of Gordon and MacPhail's Connoisseur's Choice range. Distilled in 1996, so before the mothballing, it's 46% and will set you back £76. And very pleasant it is too, certainly on the nose where there's a lot of fruit going on: apple and banana in particular. An "easy drinker" for some that's "very light" on the palate, it did have a slightly harsh finish. If anything, it's possibly not quite worth that price tag.

We moved quickly on to the 10yo, a re-release of an expression the distillery used to bottle before the closure. There's certainly a family resemblance to the 17yo, with pear drops on the nose this time, although a more spicy, peppery taste on the palate. At 43% and £100 though, again the value for money isn't quite there.

Tamdhu Batch Strength 002
Our second distillery of the evening was another Speyside, Tamdhu, which is not too far along the A95 from Glen Keith. It was out of action between 2009 and 2012 when it was relaunched under the ownership of Ian Macleod, the maker of Glengoyne.

We got stuck in to the Batch Strength 002, a sherry monster clocking in at 58.5%. This is a sweet one, with notes of golden syrup and glacĂ© cherries bringing to mind your nan's baking cupboard. For some, water took that away a bit and made it spicier. Other comments included "oily" and "lubricating". Certainly drinkable, it's also decent value at £57.

Tamdhu 18yo
The second Tamdhu on the menu was an 18yo, bottled in 2016 by Hunter Laing at 52.2%. If anything, and maybe unsurprisingly, this felt a little thin after the blast of the Batch Strength. Lemon and vanilla were picked out, along with that dryness you associate with shortbread (presumably also from your nan's baking cupboard). Some drinkers really liked this one. It's £86.

After a break we were back and refreshed, ready for the final distillery of the evening, GlenDronach. Technically a Highland, it's not actually all that far geographically from the other two distilleries, located near Huntly again in Aberdeenshire. It was among the brands acquired by Jack Daniel's owner Brown-Forman last year, as part of its £285m purchase of BenRiach.

Glendronach 8yo
And what sort of whisky did they get for all that cash? Well, our verdict was, some pretty good stuff. We began with the 46% 8yo, also known as The Hielan'. We were getting sweet green apples on the nose, and plenty of vanilla too. This got a satisfied reception from the first taste, with a lot of lip smacking around the room. That only intensified when Stina told everyone the price - just £36.

There was much animated chat at this point about whether it was actually better than some of the others we'd had earlier in the evening, but there was no doubt this offered excellent value at such a price tag.

Glendronach 21yo
This brought us to the 21yo GlenDronach, known as Parliament. This is nothing to do with politics, though - it's named after the rooks that live in the trees near the distillery, although whether local MP Alex Salmond enjoys a dram of this or not isn't clear (he's certainly well aware of the distillery, urging it and others to use more local ingredients in this 2015 statement).

This is a heavily sherried whisky, thick and juicy like walnut cake. With both Oloroso and PX used in creating it, some wondered whether actually they ended up slightly cancelling each other out, with the nose generally preferred to the palate. The finish definitely had a taste of ginger biscuits about it. At 48% but £115, there were mixed views about whether this quite lived up to that billing.

However, when it came to the dram of the night voting: it was the GlenDronach 21yo Parliament that came out on top. Although loyalties were split among quite a few of the drams we tasted, so it wasn't a clear cut victory. A hung Parliament, if you will.

Thank you to Stina for selecting the evening's whiskies and putting together such an interesting line up, and to all club and waiting list members who attended: thanks also as ever to everyone at the Briton's Protection for hosting us once again.

Dram of the night voting!

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