Solid but Unimpressive
Tonight's dram is from the Inchgower distillery: another workhorse from the Diageo stable. Even though it is an important ingredient of both Johnnie Walker and Bell's blends, it still is a fairly obscure distillery and remains uncharted territory even for most whisky drinkers.
This 35yo was the festival bottling of 2011 and matured in a bourbon hogshead. I selected a sample from this bottle after some online research on other enthusiasts' tasting notes. This particular whisky generally scored well on their charts, so why not give it a chance?
Pale gold in colour and bottled at only 41.9% ABV, no chill filtration and no colouring. As only 224 bottles were offered for sale, leads me to believe that the hogsheads content was not watered down. The low alcohol percentage was due to greedy angels. In those 35 years they took their fair share from the cask.
Nose: Three layered goodness. First fruity notes: passion fruit and Mango, then some flowery notes: violets and underneath a salty layer of coastal notes: sea spray and ocean sand to finish of fresh oak wood,
(with water added: fresher fruity notes develop, like the sweet aromas of a mango sponge cake, the salty notes all but disappear and some nutty flavours develop in the background: a touch of walnut)
Mouth: waxy, creamy, bitter, fresh and a bit salty. Not as fruity as I expected, but there is still some fruitiness left down there: bitter oranges, a puff of smoke, and notes of roses
(with water added: It all falls apart, nothing left on the palate, that drop of water may have opened up the nose, but broke the palate and turned it into tap water)
Finish: fairly long, some hay, soft licorice, vanilla notes with a peppery edge.
(with water added: notes of orange reappear after the watery palate, with a spicy edge of white pepper)
Not too impressive, but still a complex and balanced whisky. But I must admit that I wasn't blown away by this one, maybe my expectations were too high again. I'll remember that this particular expression had a beautiful nose, after a good sniff I was anticipating an equally stellar palate. But the mouth was not up to the challenge, had this been a younger whisky or had the nose been of a lesser quality, I would certainly have given it a higher score.
The fact that a simple drop of water destroyed almost all flavour proves that the whisky has become very fragile, My advice: enjoy this one neat!