Grain? A 'grain whiskey' for the production of which not only varietal barley malt may be used. By the way, at least one single (Invergordon) Grain from a single barrel. After all! All sorts of grains such as oats, wheat, corn or rye may be used for mashing alongside barley. Malted, as usual in malting, but above all also unmalted. 'Cost optimization' is the maxim for Grain, it serves in the well-known blends of Chivas, Ballantines or others but primarily as a cheap filler to complement the taste-setting Malt components. Perfect is the continuous distillation process in, mostly made of stainless steel, column stills, which are basically uninterrupted and therefore much faster and cheaper (industrially!) Can be produced as traditionally. This process, which was developed as early as 1826, guarantees a very pure distillate with a very high alcohol content, but which is just one-layered and less multi-faceted than traditional malt. With the classic, limited to barley malt, two or three times burning after batches in traditional pot stills, as we know it at Malt, this all has rather limited in common.
Back to Invergordon. As you know, experimenting is about studying and so I used the minutes that I used for the previous lines to bring the Invergordon a little bit to temperature and let it breathe, as befits a 45 year matured whiskey. Let's see what Donald Hart has filled interesting things for us.
Eye / nose
Strong amber, very nice oily, with numerous long spider legs, which are visible on the Glencairn, evenly drip the drops along the inner wall of Glencairn along. I note down fresh, fragrant caramel notes, vanilla pulp, orange juice, honey and freshly sawn wood. Some rum impressions, which are known heavy sweetness and some sharpness. No glue, which is common in younger grains.
The oily streaks from the rim of the glass are reflected in a fabulous, warm creaminess that is extraordinary even for such a long-matured whiskey. Powerful, with cleanly integrated 49.4% ABV. Very delicious honey sweetness at the tip of the tongue. Powdered sugar, warm butter, dough, canned peaches. In the combination I think of steaming, warm apricot dumplings. Then caramel, orange zest and red apples. The rum from the nose has given way to sweet Rumrosines. Beautiful oak influences, with a barely noticeable, fine bitterness, reminiscent of almonds rather than an excess of unpleasant tannins, despite the decades in the barrel. Good balance of the individual components. Fine drop!
Finish / Conclusion
Caramel toffee. Werther's Original? Rather not. White chocolate and warm crème brûlée, again caramel and freshly cooked pear sauce. The aftertaste also knows how to convince. Very nice intense, multi-layered for a grain, just delicious! What's not to like? I have no real criticisms. I have tasted many old grains over the years, few have convinced me more than this delicious Grainman.
Why are some Grains, which in the first decades of their maturation often seem so interchangeable, with very long storage, usually more than four decades in the wood necessary, so great? Maybe there are other reasons, but at least two are close to me. On the one hand, the more neutral New Make naturally has much less tension than is usually the case with malt. It takes extreme maturity to score points over the barrel flavors. On the other hand, the cheaper grain, which is primarily produced as a cheap filling agent, is usually much less troublesome in barrel management than in the malt. The used (refill) barrels therefore take longer to convey really independent character. If it is true that about 60% of all the flavors of a finished whiskey depend on the barrels and not on the used new make, there might still be potential, you might think. But the bottleneck is usually not the new make, it's just the good barrels that are lacking.
Further tasting notes and reviews on Facebook at #Maltkanzlei