Inchgower must be one of the most underrated of all malts. It is not difficult to purchase from online sources but not much seems to be made of this joy of a whisky though I have yet to taste a mediocre dram from this distillery. Independent bottlings seem to make up most of its available public presence. As most of it goes into Bells, not much more that 1% actually makes it to a single malt. The first time I encountered it though was via the Flora and Fauna bottling released by its owner Diageo. Bottled at a 'low' 43% it was nevertheless a fine dram with a long slightly salty finish that seemed to bungee back to the tongue after you thought it was all over.
From there, things moved onto a 11yo single cask bottling from Cadenheads which came in at a healthy 61%. A fruity nose with some salt gives way to a creamy palate before finishing like salty throat pastilles.
There was no way I was gonna fork out £250 odd for Diageo's 'Manager's Choice' offering. However, thanks to a Jolly Toper tasting in Edinburgh, I got the chance to try this expensive wee gem. Superb stuff indeed. But was it any better than the Cadenhead's one at £40ish?
The Bladnoch Forum bottlings were always excellent value for money and the 28yo from hogshead 6965 at 50.4% didn't disappoint. Great nose - like spilling mango smoothie on a machair meadow. Another reviewer thought the palate was like eating lemon meringue pie with a metal spoon. I'd go with that but replace the metal spoon with a dollop of molasses. The finish is smooth like a lemony Baileys. Very tasty.
Bladnoch as previously mentioned was kickstarted by Raymond Armstrong. Now, his son is in on the business and sells a few casks and bottles under the name of Whisky Broker. He seems to be continuing the trade in good value but good quality whisky if his Inchgower 36yo for a mere £50 is anything to go by. Other 36yo bottlings from the same batch go for between £75 and £115. This one is from hogshead 7756 and was distilled way back in 1974. A review of a 'sister cask' isn't far of the mark for this one either. Here the nose is a mixture of lemon and honey. Palate is very smooth but light and citrus with some metallic notes and yon Inchgower salt. Finish is medium to long with some grass and brown sugar.
The only Inchgower that I haven't been that impressed with was the Scotch Malt Whisky Society's 'Hippie Dram' and that's probably because of the high benchmark set by other bottlings.
Inchgower is an intruiging dram that rarely disappoints and one that I look forward to tasting a lot of in the future. Lastly, here are some interesting articles which give more background to the distillery and status of this whisky: