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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Single Malt Report: Mannochmore 16 year old 1990-2007 Connoisseurs Choice

Mannochmore has a short unromantic history compared to other Speyside distilleries.  Built in 1971 on the same property as the Glenlossie distillery, Mannochmore's original purpose was to supply malt whisky for the Haig blends.  For more than three decades the two distilleries even shared employees.  Shut down in the second half of the '80s when rough times hit the Scotch industry, Mannochmore's distillery was shut down again in 1995, then reopened the following year.  Diageo currently uses 100% of the distillery's output in blends.

Connoisseurs Choice is one of Gordon & Macphail's longest running brands.  What has made Connoisseurs (no apostrophe) Choice great is that it has allowed whisky fans to try single malts from nearly every single distillery, especially those distilleries that do not have their own official releases.  On the other hand, all of the CCs are bottled at reduced ABVs.  It seems as if they were mostly (or entirely) bottled at 40%abv for a couple decades.  Then some were bottled at 43% and others at 46%.  Those 46ers are the ones I look to snap up, especially if they're priced reasonably.  And that's just what I did with this 16 year old Mannochmore from 1990.

Distillery: Mannochmore
Ownership: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail (Connoisseurs Choice)
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Age: 16 years old (1990-2007)
Maturation: "oak casks"
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(review sample taken from the bottom half of my bottle)

The nose has an entertaining mix of fruit and industrial stuff.  Pears, peaches, canned fruit cocktail, and lychee candy meet plaster, paint VOC, and a hint of moldy basement.  There are also some small notes of caramel and balsamic vinegar.

The palate has a bit of heat to it, but it's also big on fruits and fruit candy.  Lime, pineapple, pears, and fresh ginger.  Steady sweetness throughout and also that cayenne-like burn.

There's a hint of coffee in the otherwise sweet finish.  Gummy bears, lemons, limes, in-season apples, and ginger read loudest.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose gets maltier and picks up more caramel and vanilla bean action.  New notes of bubblegum and lavender flowers.  Still a lot of pears in there.

The palate cools off a bit.  There's vanilla, cream soda, limes, ginger, and black pepper.

The finish is similar to the palate with its lime and cream soda character.  But it also has the nose's caramel sauce and malt.

I enjoyed this whisky more at home (with a much larger pour) than I did at the Malt Nuts event.  The quirkiness of the nose became clearer, and actually worked despite what sound like clashing characteristics.  The fruits appear consistently throughout the experience and I liked them despite the occasionally aggressive sweetness.  It swims pretty well too, to the point where I might experiment with adding water whenever I drink what's left of the whisky.

There's a 15 year old 1990-2006 CC Mannochmore floating around out there too.  That one was from refill sherry casks.  Whatever "oak casks" this one came from, I'm going to guess they were refill (2nd or 3rd) too because aside from the little bit of caramel and vanilla, this was mostly spirit forward.  While this one won't win an excess of superlatives, it is a decent whisky and goes to show there's no need to fear the Mannochmore.

Availability - Scarce
Pricing - $75-$80
Rating - 85