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Friday, April 15, 2016

Single Malt Report: Inchgower 20 year old 1995 Hepburn's Choice for K&L Wines

When searching for a sherried malt for last month's OC Scotch Club event, I selected this Inchgower, a whisky of interest to me since its arrival at K&L Wine Merchants.  I enjoy Inchgower quite a bit, but its indie bottlings almost never make it to The States.  Plus the one sherry cask Inchgower I have tried was excellent.  So I was looking forward to it.  It turned out to be a hit (possibly the biggest) at the event, especially with cigar fans.

from the K&L site

Distillery: Inchgower
Bottler: Hepburn's Choice (Hunter Laing)
Type: Single Malt
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Age: 20 years (1995-2015)
Maturation: sherry butt
Alcohol by Volume: 57.5%
Limited Release: 496 bottles
Exclusive to: K&L Wine Merchants

The nose begins with toffee, some classic Inchgower flower notes, and (curiously) old ex-bourbon-cask-style tropical fruit notes.  There's dusting of cocoa, lime candy, then some autumnal leaves.  Almond brittle candy.  After some time in the glass, the whiskey gets a little woodier with bigger caramel notes.  Maybe some whipped cream.

The palate starts with the Macallan-style clean sherriness that many of us used to love 5+ years ago, a characteristic now missing from current Mac.  Here it's deeper and fuller than any of Mac's 43%abv bottlings (including the 25yo).  A real toffee/caramel/nutty sherry cask.  There's bitter dark chocolate, salted caramels, a smoky note, and salt (smoked sea salt?).  There are smaller notes of dried blueberries as well as the nose's florals.

It finishes with nutty sherry, salt, and tart limes.  Small notes of flowers, dried berries, and mild oak.  A good length to it.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
Here come some more familiar sherried notes in the nose.  Prunes, raisins, and smoky dark chocolate.  Three Musketeers nougat.  Aromatic toasted wood spices.  Roses and mangos.

The palate picks up big dried leaf notes, almost Kilkerran-like.  Subtle smoke and lime notes meet with a sweeter sherry.  A little bit of the salt remains.  A medium bitter dark chocolate.

The good length remains in the finish.  Big sherry cask-style dried fruits.  Brown butter.  A peep of oak.  Some salt and savoury notes.

Wow, this is terrific.  It swims very well too.  Even though the cask and its previous contents are of much influence, lots of well-matured spirit notes remain.  There's definitely something smoky going on here too.  Good fruits, flowers, sweets, earth, chocolate, toffee, salt.  I can't find anything wrong with it.  And it's not like I'm not trying.  It ranks with the dirtier K&L Craigellachie and Chieftain's Fettercairn as my favorite current sherried whiskies I've tried this year.  I give the Inchgower the advantage because it takes to water so well.  A darn good selection by K&L.

Availability - At K&L only
Pricing - $99.99
Rating - 90