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Monday, April 13, 2020

Convalmore 32 year old 1975 Old Malt Cask, cask DL 4246

Happy Monday! I'm going to roll out a couple more unrelated oldies before (attempting to) move back to thematic reviews. Or maybe this week's duo aren't so unrelated. They're both 30+ year old 1970s Speyside single malts with high ratings on Whiskybase but did not reach Whiskyfun's lusted-after 90-point barrier.

Today's Convalmore and last month's Glen Flagler came from the same LA Scotch Club event, the annual Night of the Dead Distilleries. This will be the second (and probably last) Convalmore review on this site. Though I was slightly underwhelmed by Diageo's 36yo 1977 Special Release, I won't let that determine my expectations on this one. That official release was mixed from a batch of refill European oak, while today's Convalmore comes from a single hoggie.

Distillery: Convalmore
Ownership: Diageo (owner of the brand only)
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Bottler: Douglas Laing
Range: Old Malt Cask
Age: 32 years old (October 1975 - April 2008)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Cask #: DL 4246
Outturn: 202
Alcohol by Volume: 48.0%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

It noses like an old whisky: old leather, shoe polish, spent motor oil and musty basement. There's also black licorice, orange peel and a splash of tropical fruit punch. Devoid of sweetness, the palate begins with wood smoke, peppery warmth, earth and minerals. Bits of horseradish bitterness, fresh ginger and lemon peel follow. It gets rootier and bitterer with time. The long, warm, slightly sooty finish gradually releases notes of citrus and horseradish.

DILUTED TO ~43%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose becomes simpler, focusing on the musty basement and motor oil notes, with metal and overripe tropical fruits drifting below. Though the palate gains a thicker mouthfeel the tartness and bitterness become very woody and creaky. The finish takes on tannins, perhaps more than it can support.

This is certainly "old school" whisky. It also can't take water worth a damn. The nose plays into exactly what I enjoy about whiskies of yore. While the taste often matches the nose, challenging and un-commercial, it completely collapses into an oaky puddle when just a little bit of water is added. Even when neat its bitterness starts to take on a woodiness. That issue aside, this is a sturdy whisky of type rarely seen today.

Availability - Secondary market, maybe
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87 (neat only!)