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Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Inchgower 28 year old 1985 The Whisky Agency

Inchgower went corporate in 1985. Guinness consumed the distillery's former owner, Arthur Bell & Sons, as the beast slowly grew into United Distillers / Diageo via hostile takeovers. The Bell's Extra Special blend was a hot property at the time, as it held more than a 1/3 of the UK market. Swallowing Bell's, Guinness gained a trio of distilleries in the process: Bladnoch, Pittyvaich and Inchgower. Inchgower has been the only one of the three to distill without pause across the past four decades, and is the only one still in Diageo's portfolio.

Today's Inchie may have been distilled during the Bell's era, or was among the earliest batches produced by its new corporate overlords.

Distillery: Inchgower
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: The Whisky Agency
Series: Stamps
Age: 28 years (1985-2013)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Outturn: 266 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 53.8%
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins with bananas, barrel char and paint VOCs. Lemons and mineral white wine develop after 30 minutes, then circus peanuts a bit later. The palate comes in with a curious mix of dried ginger, cardamom pods, moss and sweet riesling. Tangy chiles and a woody bitterness fill in the middle and background. Black peppercorns and tart limes move to the fore after nearly 45 minutes. It finishes sweet and bourbony, until some tart limes and dried herbs make things interesting.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Now I find dates, pecans, lemonade and circus peanuts in the nose. The woody bitterness and tart citrus expand in the palate, with peppercorns in the background. It finishes grassy and tart, with plenty of bitter oak.


Serge was a bigger fan of this than I, as was Ruben and the Whiskybase community. The tartness and sweetness worked well on the palate, and the nose was never boring, but the bitterness — though interesting — was too woody for my mouth. Feels like something that stayed in the cask for too long, and as a result the whisky shares none of the great characteristics of the previously reviewed Inchgowers. For a different take, please see the aforementioned experienced palates' takes on the whisky.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 82