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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Luxury Product Report: Linkwood 37 year old 1978 Special Release (2016)

I've been Linkwood-curious ever since I tried one of the distillery's 1970s 12 year old bottlings, but I've yet to be wowwed by a contemporary Linkwood release. They've all been decent-to-good but also seem like they'd be better as the blend ingredient God Diageo intended. Since last March's half-month of Linkwood reviews didn't convince me otherwise, I chose to do something totally logical by getting in on a bottle split of the 37 year old official small batch issued four years ago. It's highly desired and highly scored, maybe everyone else is right about Linkwood.

Distillery: Convalmore
Ownership: Diageo
Range: Special Releases
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Age: at least 37 years old (1978-2016)
Maturation: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 50.3%
Limited Bottling: 6114
Bottling year: 2016
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a bottle split)

The nose develops gradually starting with a fun mix of watermelon, peach candy, charcoal smoke and wool. Then kale, kiwi and honeydew. It gains a slight phenolic skunkiness and muskier fruit after some time in the glass. Then cream soda and jasmine flowers. As with Monday's Convalmore, the palate is short on sweetness. It's tall on herbal bitterness and tart fruits. Coal smoke and earth. Gets bitterer with time. There's smoked lemon peel, soil and salt in the finish.

Just a little bit of water for this oldie...

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose gets fruitier, prettier. Think nectarines, clementines, candy corn, apple juice and malt. The smoke gets woodier on the palate, and so does the bitterness (again). But it has has kept the tart fruits, and even gained some sweet ones. Maybe a hint of dunnage. It gets more tannic with time. The finish is tart and tannic with a little bit of cigarette smoke and that woody bitterness.

The bright, angular nose meets the lean and dark palate creating two separate experiences. I like them both, but prefer the way the phenols play with the fruits in the nose. As dilution lifts the sniffer it also unearths the woody beams in the palate. So once again, keep it neat.

As with the Convalmore — the sparring partner — this long-aged malt provides a very good drinking experience, but not one that ultimately leads me to superlatives. I'm not certain this is the best Linkwood I've had, as one specific 16yo single cask from Signatory would certainly have given it a run for its money quality at 1/10th the price. While I'm glad to have had the chance to enjoy the drink, I'm not too sad I didn't save it for my birthday.

Availability - Still available on the primary market after four years
Pricing - $700-$1000 in US and Europe
Rating - 88 (neat only!)