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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Teaninich 20 year old 1999 Chieftain's, cask 302865

Not only is this my first second Teaninich review, but it's the first time I've ever spelled the distillery's name correctly on the first try! Teaninininininch is one of those Diageo-owned malts that the big D hoards for its blends, so we rarely see even an indie bottle of it here in The States. This barrel, part of what may be Chieftain's final single cask bottling runs, also has a sibling cask #302864 in Europe. And, pretty remarkably, they've both mostly sold out, so I'm thankful to have gotten my claws on a bottle split.

Distillery: Teaninich
Region: Northern-ish Highlands
Ownership: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Ian McLeod
Range: Chieftain's
Age: 20 years old (March 1999 - August 2019)
Maturation: bourbon barrel
Cask number: 302865
Outturn: 152 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 56.2%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant added? No
(from a bottle split)

It has a fascinating nose. There are veggies on the top: with cucumber skins, wheatgrass, vegetable broth and charred bell pepper skins. And flowers and fruits on the bottom: lilac and yellow plums. And it works, somehow. The palate stays close to this style. Flower petals, cucumber skins and an herbal bitterness arrive first. Peach skins, lemon-infused olive oil and a hint of metal follow later. One can almost chew the peach skins and cucumber skins as they arrive so boldly. It finishes bitter, tart and vegetal with smaller notes of peppercorns and metal.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1⅓ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Wow! The nose actually intensifies, with the bell peppers and wheatgrass taking over, the blossoms and peaches in the background, and hints of salty broth and dunnage here and there. The palate's vegetal note remains, but with more minerals and metals. Hints of flowers and plums around the edges. Flowers, plums and pepper in the finish.

The late scotchwhisky.com said that Teaninich's spirit has "a fragrant exotic grassiness," and that element is alive and well in this bottling, providing a distinctive experience. Plaudits to Chieftain's for bottling a low-oak whisky with this level of organic zing. I really enjoyed these two ounces, but I can't imagine getting too far into a full bottle before being worn out. Whether this style is divisive or not, it's great to have this in the whisky world. If you've had this whisky too, let me know in the comments what you thought of it. For me, tomorrow's (Wednesday's) whisky had the clear edge.

Availability - There may be a few bottles still floating around at American retailers
Pricing - $200-$225 (which is actually much cheaper than its sibling cask)
Rating - 85 (maybe, I dunno)

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