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Monday, August 19, 2019

Inchgower 30 year old 1982 AD Rattray, cask 6964

I've decided to start mining the sample stash for the oldies more frequently. And by "oldies" I mean long-aged whiskies and/or samples I've had for a long time. Since I turn 91 years old on Saturday, I'm going try some nice roundly numbered single malts this week, all from Speyside.

Today's sample is an Inchgower — I like Inchgower — bottled by A. Dewar Rattray — I like A. Dewar Rattray — and was distilled in 1982. I love 1982. Two of my favorite humans were produced in 1982. This Inchgower is 30 years old, yet is still humming in at 56.3%abv. Perhaps this was a stubborn cask, or it sat in a warm corner of the warehouse. Or both. Or neither. I don't know, I'm just here for the whisky.

Distillery: Inchgower
Independent Bottler: A. Dewar Rattray
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Age: 30 years (30 June 1982 - 29 October 2012)
Maturation: bourbon hogshead
Cask number: 6964
Outturn: 208 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 56.3%
(from a purchased sample)

The nose begins with fudge and raspberry candy. Small notes of mothballs, chlorine and moldy dunnage. Some peaches and apricots in the background. It gets more chocolatey with time. No alcohol prickle or burn. The palate is......unusual. Bitter fruit rinds, red pepper flakes, yellow mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Very tart, very tannic, very sweet. The finish is bitter, tannic and moldy with cocoa and burnt plastic. The heat lasts the longest.

I can't say that was pleasant. A little bit of water...

DILUTED TO ~48%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Lots of sugary candy shop notes in the nose. Some honeydew. There are also hints of plastic, metal and dunnage mold. While the palate has gotten more savory and gained a tangy lime, there's also plenty of burnt hair, burnt plastic and burnt peppers. There's a worrisome poisonous edge to it. The finish has gotten sweeter, but the bitter, tannic and peppery notes remain. Burnt plastic, burnt cocoa.

That did not help matters. More water.

DILUTED TO ~43%abc, or 1¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Gone are the nose's funky elements. Now there are roasted nuts, orange oil, caramel sauce and anise. The palate is less harsh, but it's still very tannic, moldy and plasticky. Peppercorns and sugar. The finish is bitter and tannic.

I like Inchgower a lot, and I'm aware that its single malt gets a bit divisive and weird with extended maturations. That's part of why I like it. And this whisky's low online scores actually inspired me to buy this sample.

But there are problems with this particular whisky, and it's a cask issue, not an Inchgower issue. The tannic assault is likely due to the whisky being left in the hoggie for too long, but the other palate problems may have been present years or decades earlier. I'm not sure if this could have been salvageable.

These are the bottler's official tasting notes, to wit:

Palate - Burnt Cajun spices and ginger.
Finish - An exceptionally different aged malt - curious.

Firstly, it's never a great sign when the official notes say "different", and even less great when they say "exceptionally different", and even more exceptionally less great when they say "curious". Secondly, the palate notes. "Burnt"? Certainly, but that's not always something to brag about. And, have they actually eaten Cajun food? Or, to be more American about it, do you even Cajun, bro?

The whisky's nose is very good, which makes grading this thing even goofier than usual. The real concern here is that five out of the last six Rattray products I've tried have been disappointing or worse. And I have another Rattray sample in the queue that is also not great. It's time for me to give up on this bottler.

Availability - ???
Pricing - ???
Rating - 74 (a generous grade which drops 3-5 when the whisky is diluted)

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