Monday, 6 September 2010

Aged malts in Kenmore and Glenturret

Another wee jaunt to take advantage of our Indian summer sees us pack the tent and head for Highland Perth/Stirlingshire. We make for Kenmore - the ceann mòr or 'great head' of Loch Tay via the appropriately named Glen Quaich. Quaich of course being the Anglicised form of 'cuach' or 'drinking cup' with which the Scots drank their whisky on ceremonial occasions.

We pitch up near Tom na Moine - hillock of the peat. Gaelic names seem 'romantic' to those with no knowledge of the tongue and whilst some are descriptive in either beautiful or bizarre ways, most are simply mundane. Our own portable peat comes in the form of Caol Ila Distillers Edition and some Longrow CV. The Longrow is a new dram for me but one I'll seek out in future. It's dark and treacly and I start thinking of a fermented blueberry muffin.

We head to the Kenmore Hotel and are pleased to find a well-stocked bar with many familiar and not so well-kent bottles. I go for two Connoissiers Choice. First is Braes of Glenlivet 1975. The date of distillation awes me to no end. I was a wee lad when this went into the cask. The price at £3.60 for a 32 yo stretches that awe a bit further. This is nice stuff - light but with lots of cereal and vanilla flavours. It prompts a discussion on why distilleries like this (as well as Imperial, Rosebank and others) get closed down, or are not at least given a new lease of life in today's malt-friendly times. I have since read that 'BoG' has reopened but is now known as Braeval.

Next up is the CC Caperdonich from 1980. This one is a comparably youthful 27yo but like the former, is a mothballed distillery. Caperdonich has its fans and was recommended to me at the recent Whisky Fringe. Having tasted this and the CC 1969 40yo, I have to admit to being underwhelmed. It's a little spicy with some toffee in it but the wood is a bit too much for me. The finish could be longer too. I still feel privileged to taste this stuff though.

The trip back the next day sees an impromptu visit to the 'home of the Famous Grouse' at Glenturret. The setting is magnificent. I'm also pleased to try another new dram. The sample of the standard 10yo at 40% is pleasing but not overwhelming. However, a visit to the dramming bar sees us try the humongous single cask 14yo at 59.7%. Its earthy but sweet and fills the mouth. Has a long slightly oily finish. I've never seen this before. Is it a secret or do I have a sheltered life? Who knows but at £80odd for a bottle, the price has tempered my enthusiasm. I am left though wanting to keep an eye out for an independent bottling that's more pocket friendly.

The welcome though at Glenturret is warm and friendly. This welcome on top of the some excellent whisky and stunning scenery reminds me of why people come to Scotland. Just as well, given that our national fitba team is currently sweating over possible defeat to Lichtenstein of all nations!

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