...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Birthday Booze! Inchgower 36 year old 1974 Master of Malt

Third review of the week!  You know what that means...  Super short introduction!

As I had for the previous two birthdays, this year I opened and consumed a sample of a whisky that was as old as I.  This time it was this Inchgower that Master of Malt bottled back in 2011.

I actually bought the sample in 2011 too, back when UK shipping was half of what it is now.  Oh, the days.

Before this sample, I'd tried a grand total of two Inchgowers; both 29 years old.  I liked them both, but now that I've downing a 36 year old Inchgower, I'm pretty sure I have no idea what their regular teenage or Flora & Fauna versions taste like.  This is a situation I normally don't find myself in since I'm unable to make a habit of drinking old whisky.

Distillery: Inchgower
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Master of Malt
Age: 36 years (September 16, 1974 - June 9, 2011)
Maturation: refill bourbon hogshead
Type: Single Malt
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Alcohol by Volume: 53.4%**
Limited Release: 177 bottles

** - One bit of weirdness.  The sample says it's 53.4% ABV.  The website says it's 53.4%.  But there was an identical cask distilled and bottled on the same exact days which produced same number of bottles and was labelled 41.5% ABV.  And the official photo on the website shows an ABV in the 40s, when zoomed in.  Whiskybase and whiskywhiskywhisky say it's 41.5, while Ruben from whiskynotes says his was 53.4 and Bonhams shows a bottle with the 53.4.  It could be that there were two very identical casks, but I doubt it.  Master of Malt split the cask with whiskybroker, and whiskybroker's bottles were 53.4% ABV.  So I'm going with 53.4% ABV.  Whew, that paragraph took longer to research and write than the rest of the entire post.

On to the stuff!

The color sits between light gold and amber.  The nose is a blast of fruits, candies, and creams.  Orange-mango juice, limes, fresh bananas, lemon peel meets peppercorns.  Cherry Blow Pops.  Vanilla and tapioca custard.  Hints of barrel char, but much less oaky than current "rejuvenated cask" whiskies.  Some anise and mothballs give it another boost.  On the palate, a big fruitiness at the start is reined in by a soft bitter close.  It's very zesty and spicy (yes, I know Ruben used those words in his review too, but he's a copycat with a time machine).  More creamy than buttery.  To be more specific about the fruit-to-bitter development: it goes from tropical fruit juice to lemon candies to tropical fruit Skittles to flower blossoms to dark chocolate to coffee.  A very effervescent finish, mint leaves and menthol.  Crème fraîche and mocha.  Fruity candies too.

A very pleasant nose leads to a zippy palate which leads to an enormous finish.  40+ minutes of that effervescent glow.  I like this a lot.  And now I'm 3 for 3 with old Inchgowers, with this being the best of the three.  And yes, this 36 year old single cask whisky was 75GBP (62GBP, ex-VAT) three years ago.  Seriously.  The 15 year old Balvenie is more expensive than that now.  It's unnecessary for me to say that this single cask sold out a long time ago, so my condolences if, like me, you wish you had a bottle.

Availability - Not
Pricing - £74.95 with VAT, sigh
Rating - 91


  1. For some reason I keep misreading Inchgower most times I see the name. I mean, with one extra r, you'd probably think it was some kind of male enhancement product.

    Did the whisky taste like 53.4% or 41.5%? My taste buds and nose always notices high alcohol contents (50%+) which is why I typically start adding the water once I've had a sip neat. That discrepancy is so wide that I wonder if someone made a mistake or there were two sister casks that were barreled and bottled at the same time.

    1. I believe my junk folder is full of offers to buy Inchgrower!

      To me, it felt much closer to the 53.4% but it was pretty graceful like good old malts can be. And if that epic finish came from a 41.5% whisky, my mind would be blown. The ABV issue seems weird. At the very least, MoM split a 53.4%abv cask with whiskybroker. I don't know where the 41.5% came from. Someone somewhere could have screwed up the labels.

    2. Junk folder? What is this, rapper code for underwear?

    3. Yes. Yes, it is.


    4. Or, rather #winnerwinnermargheritapizzadinner for certain audiences.

  2. Replies
    1. Neither do I. That's why I never use my own reviews as a buying guide.