From time to time I crack open one of a number of 3cl samples I decanted from a full bottle back in 2015. Here’s two of those times. I had the first of these sample straight after a Macphail’s 1938 45yo [WB] [score: 89], for a random 1930’s mini series tasting - though comparisons were incidental. Talking of incidentals, the price I paid for this bottle worked out as approximately 1p per day of it’s lengthy life spent mainly in glass not cask.
N: Lacking the density and complexity of the Macphail’s, this Bellows shows a far more basic nature. There is however a similar resonance between the two, though how I could quantify that is anyone’s guess. Whilst initially lacking specifics, it’s decidedly ambitious and never lacking in interest or intrigue. This malt’s body is somewhat metallic and Bovril like - think yeasty, meaty stock. So, to recap: grainy metallic Bovril with a touch of white wine vinegar - who can resist?
T: Light and oily - thin sewing machine oil coupled with a light salad dressing oil, thickening gently as the grain becomes more chewy. It’s such a sublime & subtle barley led, honeyed development, the oak giving only light support. There is harmony however in it’s blended balance, no doubt brought about through subsequent years of bottle ageing/marrying.
F: Having said that, the spirit is now more pronounced though there’s no denying that the oak does have a least some influence - this isn’t a NAS 3yo. What results is a creamy, honeyed and relatively vibrant uncomplicated blend which would be merely gluggable if it weren’t for all those decades in interwar glass. The finish however is the weakest part of its profile, a little dry and talc-y.
C: I can’t help reacting emotionally to this whisky. Maybe it’s because it’s the first really old bottle I ever bought. It’s so simple and yet so abstruse - a new word for me. It means obscure, esoteric, little known, puzzling, perplexing, enigmatic, cryptic, mysterious. At times of [my] clarity it’s nothing more than a standard/fair ye olde blend, albeit with a high malt content. There’s certainly more here than that, but would these abstruse subtleties show up in a blind tasting? Of the samples I gave out, the little feedback I’ve had back would suggest so. Today, it scores a B-
N: Flinty, match sulphur on the nose, turning a little peaty as it opens out. Soon it’s a richer honeyed malt with notes of tomato juice, armagnac certainly, a little fennel and some metallic qualities. Ebbing & flowing, it becomes decidedly more grainy with some heathers. Love it.
T: Even more metallic on arrival than was initially detected on the nose, but it rallies. Grainy, flinty and light bitter=sour sweet with a grainy, [metallic] lemon pith development. Forever displaying a high malt ratio, it becomes creamier & more chocolate-y into the finish. A Speysider, probably. Glen Moray? What are the chances? More likely perhaps is Glenlivet given the historical trade links Portal, Dingwall & Norris had already established with Glenlivet by the 1890’s [link], but then PD&N bottled everything from port to rum for international markets.
F: Sustains for a short while before falling away, the savoury, cream>sweetness lingering.
C: Love it, love it. Every dram an education.
Scores a B[-]