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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Single Malt Report: Glen Ord 17 year old 1997 Signatory for K&L Wine Merchants

Last Monday, I said I was doing eight K&L whisky reviews in a row.  I have no idea what I was talking about because I only have seven of their whiskies to review.  At one point in my life I was good at the maths.

I like Glen Ord and really wish Diageo would give it a good release here in The States.  "The Singleton" version they do in Asia isn't bad, but a 12 year old 46%abv (or 45.8%) would be much preferred.  There's some good whisky coming out of that distillery and I do believe they expanded its annual production to 10 million liters (unless that expansion was nixed with the rest of their big investment plan last year), additionally blend sales are falling.  So maybe someday?  Right.

It's a good thing several dozen casks from the '90s made their way to the indie bottlers.  This one in particular was bottled by Signatory for the US retailer K&L Wine Merchants.  Like yesterday's Glenburgie it's from a hogshead, but unlike yesterday's single hogshead there are still some bottles on the shelves.  How or why people bought more Glenburgie than Glen Ord, I don't know.  Let's find out...

Distillery: Glen Ord
Ownership: Diageo
Independent BottlerSignatory
Retailer: K&L only
Age: 17 years (April 30, 1997 - August 1, 2014)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask#: 800089
Bottles: 272
Region: Northern Highlands
Alcohol by Volume: 58.3%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
Thanks to My Annoying Opinions for the sample!

Its color is light gold, again.  The nose is HOT.  Takes a while before I can sort through it.   There's caramel and oranges first.  Then vanilla and peach.  Powdered sugar donuts and apples.  There are also rubberbands and an unmistakable something that exists right between earthy and sulfurous.  Enormous heat in the palate.  Beneath that is vanilla, almonds, and caramel.  Equal parts sweet and salt.  Cream of wheat.  And again that in-between earth and sulphur note, though smaller here.  It finishes with the sweet and salt.  Long and hot.  A light bourbon with hints of citrus and rubberbands.

It calls, desperately, for water.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose gets more honeyed now.  More floral as well.  The oranges, peaches, and vanilla are still there.  A hint of the sulphur thing.  The palate becomes tangier.  Vanilla, pepper, a little nutty.  A bitter wood note.  The sweet and tangy finish has vanilla, cherries, and wood pulp.

More water...

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose has been trimmed to oranges, peaches, vanilla, and honey.  The pleasant lightly oaky palate feels a little oaky, but there's still plenty of fruits (lemon and dried apricot).  On the finish it's caramel, wood pulp, and dried apricots.

The charms of this one are largely, though not entirely, lost on me.  Firstly, for a more enthusiastic(!!) take on this whisky, see MAO's review from May.  Also a few folks on whiskybase liked it better as well.  None of them mention the curious note that kept floating to the surface (for me), one that I couldn't figure out if it was a dirty earthy thing or a sulphur note from the spirit (rather than the cask).  I didn't mind it much; in fact it was the most entertaining part of the whisky.

Overall, I don't dislike this whisky.  I found it to be hot when neat.  Adding water improved it and I think its money spot is somewhere between 40% and 46%abv.  In that range, it's a decent drinker, comfortable, free of oddities and noise.

Of all the 2015 K&L exclusive whisky releases this was the one I was considering getting first.  And at $80, it is what passes for an excellent deal for a 17yo Highlands single cask.  But I'll be letting this one go.  More for y'all.  20+ bottles still available as of Halloween.

Availability - K&L Wine Merchants only
Pricing - $80
Rating - 81 (with water only)

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