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Friday, August 3, 2012

Single Malt Report: Inchgower 29 year old 1982 Single Cask (Master of Malt)

Distillery: Inchgower
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Master of Malt
Age: 29 years (June 1982 - November 2011)
Maturation: refill bourbon hogshead
Type: Single Malt
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Alcohol by Volume: 53.9%
Limited Release: 190 bottles

We go from Tuesday's 4-year-old to Friday's 29-year-old.  From Irish to Scotch.  Single Malt to Single Malt.  Indie bottler to Indie bottler.

Though these two malts are entirely different, they both brought a unique flavor and nose that took some time to figure out.  Unfortunately, though I had an entire 750mL of Trader Joe's Irish Single Malt, I only had 30mL of this Inchgower to mull over.  Thanks to its mysterious notes and advanced age, I enjoyed a very slow whisky experience.

Looking back, I'm not entirely sure why I bought this sample.  It may have been because I knew nothing about the distillery and had never seen a bottling of it.  Or it may have been because it was one of the cheapest old whisky samples they were selling.  Its affordability was likely due to the fact that the seller and the bottler are the same company: Master of Malt.

Inchgower is a mid-sized distillery (and apparently a beautiful one) whose malt goes entirely into blends -- mostly Bell's but also some Johnnie Walker and White Horse.  Diageo briefly released the single malt as a 14-year Flora & Fauna bottling, then again as two different limited Rare Malts at 22 and 27 years of age.  It also appears as if Diageo doesn't sell many Inchgower casks off to other bottlers.  There are one or two Connoisseur's Choice bottlings floating around out there right now, but that's about it.  So this was a rare chance to try a malt that's normally created just for blends.

So here's what I found after sitting with this dram for over an hour:

Color - Trumpet brass
Nose - Blueberry pie!, nice dry oak, raspberry bars, sweet balsamic reduction, apple juice, curried maple syrup
Texture - Very thick
Palate - Smoked sugar cookies, salted caramel tart, touch of milk chocolate, dry cheese, smoky cocoa
Finish - Pleasant sweet maltiness gets sweeter, apples, more of the fruit pie thing, and also more of the smoky cocoa

WITH WATER (6 drops) and a shortbread cookie on the side!
Nose - Apple juice, oak vanillins, barley, more sugar develops, ethyl has awakened, Fig Newtons, curried maple syrup, a feminine mustiness (I'll leave it at that)
Palate - light peat smoke and pungent (possibly smoked?) dried tropical fruit, musty, a little salt, dry cheese
Finish - more of that smoke and fruit, mildly sugary, a hint of the fruit pie element

The blueberry pie and raspberry bar notes were unusual.  That note isn't strong but it's always there in the background.  The mystery notes I could only describe as curried maple syrup and smoky cocoa.  Unique (in my brief experience) but enjoyable.  It was also priced very well for a single cask bottle at its age.

Here's where it gets crappy.  It's sold out!  That one and the 36-year they'd bottled.  :(  I hope Master of Malt can get pry another cask of Inchgower from the corporate claws of Diageo.  This malt needs to be experienced.

Pricing - Was only 70GBP plus int'l shipping
Rating - 85