Nose: Minerality and fruitiness abound right away--it's not shy at all. For the former, I'm getting wet rocks and chalk, which provides a very pristine base upon which the other elements can be built. For the latter, I quickly am drawing out peaches and other, light stone fruit. There's also a little bit of spice there that nods towards something more tropical. Simply put, this is pretty much textbook for a quality, young Speysider aged in refill wood. The thirteen years is long enough to erase any sense of immaturity from the smell, but it's still remarkably vibrant. In many ways, this behaves like its color: a good, fresh white wine. As it develops in the glass, one can suss out more robust, vegetal notes. Think starchy and slightly bitter, well balanced with the preceding. With water, I'm not sensing much change: the minerality remains prominent, perhaps a wee touch of farminess emerging.
Taste: Oh man, this is drinkable, which is kind of nuts when you consider it's bottled at over 56% ABV. Sure, there are plenty of great drams that you can drink comfortably at this strength or higher, but not many strike me as this, for lack of a better word, "easygoing." The arrival complements the nose in that it's clean, fresh, and light. This isn't the kind of dram you're looking to chew. As for flavors, there's barley syrup and then some more bitter notes that seem to correspond to what came out slightly later in the nosing. This is all integrated with some zestiness that resembles lemon and fresh ginger. Water takes away any bite and really zeroes in on that zesty, refreshing bit. Good both ways.
Finish: Taken neat, I find it a bit drying, but certainly not over-oaked. I suspected this will improve when reduced a bit. Upon adding water, I find this to be correct.
Comments: My first Glen Elgin. I've been meaning to get one for a while now, because its distillate has a great reputation in the whisky chatting circles. I try not to be reductivist about one element of the distillation process carrying such great importance, but I suspect some of its obvious character is due to the fact that Diageo still employs worm tubs there. This is clearly a weighty spirit undergirding the refreshing fruit and minerals. That combination really gets the job done here. When you factor in the age and price, it's a tremendous value and fantastic daily dram.