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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Speyburn 18 year old

 A summary of my Speyburn experience in list form:

How about I open it?

Distillery: Speyburn
Ownership: Inver House (via Thai Beverages plc via International Beverage Holdings Ltd.)
Region: Speyside (Rothes)
Age: at least 18 years old
Maturation: American oak casks and Spanish oak casks
Bottling date: 2018
Outturn: 9000 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant added? No
(from a purchased sample)

The nose is Pop. Orange peel, yellow nectarines, ginger ale, rosewater, anise and dark chocolate. Diluting it to 40%abv narrows it a bit. Flowers and stone fruits. Hints of white chocolate and confectioner's sugar. Bark and barrel char in the background.

The palate is Toast. Toasted nuts, toasted grains, toasted oak, toasted bread, toasted coconut and toasted marshmallow. Lots of limes, some minerals and anise in the background. It trends more towards oak spice with 30+ minutes in the glass. It gets much bitterer once diluted to 40%abv. Bitter chocolate, bitter herbs and bitter oak. One clementine and a vanilla whisper in the midground.

The finish is Grownup Candy. Limes and minerals. Salt and anise. Luxardo cherries and Red Hots. Once diluted to 40%abv, the finish holds the palate's bitterness while keeping some anise and minerals in the rear.

This appears to have been a limited release honoring distiller Bobby Anderson's 18th year at the distillery. So that means he needs another 32 years of service before anyone pays him some respect. Politicians, ugly buildings, etc.

This 18 year old turned out to be a very enjoyable whisky, on par with the 15. I think this one's nose wins out, while my notes on the 15's palate sound a little better. Due to the price difference, I'd probably give the 15 the nod. The 18yo works best at 46%, as the oak flops out at 40%, so thank goodness Inver House bottled it with an adult presentation. Those extra few percentage points help it compete with any of the Big Glens' 18s. Will Speyburn make this a regular member of their range, or will its slow sales keep it limited indeed?

Availability - maybe a dozen or so US retailers, but many, many more in Europe
Pricing - $110-$140 in the USA, $75-$100 in Europe (w/o VAT)
Rating - 85 (keep it neat!)

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