Birthday Chorlton – Glen Elgin 12 year 52.6%

The wonderful thing about an ‘Appetizer’ is how it helps calibrate your palate for wonders to come… This was our plan with the affordable Glen Elgin from Chorlton‘s  La Nouvelle Vague series… a whisky that was sampled in several sessions across two continents.

It was the youngest of the Chorlton Birthday quartet which featured the Tormore 28 year, Bunnahabhain 18 year and Orkney (Highland Parrk) 22 year. So… what did we think?

Glen Elgin 12 year (21 Apr 2009/July 2021) refill hogshead 52.6% 287 bottles

From our London evening, October 2022 (alas I missed the June experience!):

  • Nose – Happy day! After an initial sharp spice gave way to a lovely waxy sweetly floral candle aroma, we found white flowers, orchard fruits with crisp ripe pears, with a chasing of citrus….
  • Palate – First sip had a peppery spice, whereas, with the 2nd sip, the spice was joined by  a fruity kiss
  • Finish – Spice with nutty nougat
  • Water – I found a splash of water nicely mellows out this dram. Yellow plums, some malt, freshly baked biscuits on the nose, with the palate rounded out
  • Revisit – Curiously after an hour the initial whiff was a bit sour, then on an even later revisit it was deliciously floral and fruity

Next up from our first Mumbai evening and second tryst from November 2022:

  • Nose – Red apples, including the core and skin! Joined by other orchard fruits like pears, some aniseed, and fennel, then honey sweetness followed again by orchard fruits with perhaps a light lime twist… young, fresh with a bit of ‘malty’ elements
  • Palate – Initially it was rather like sipping Calvados! Some spice, more depth on the palate than anticipated from the nose, and still lots of apples and some pears! Was also quite prickly – like having pop rocks bursting in your mouth! Also found grapes, light licorice, slightly bitter, quite straightforward
  • Finish – Minty, herbal, refreshing
  • Water – Yes, please! Water brings out yellow plums, glucose biscuits (like Marie), more malty notes, and some resin on the palate… and after time shifts more into pastry like an apple crumble or shortbread, vanilla, mint… 
  • Revisit – There wasn’t much remaining in the glass but we had such contrasting reactions – most thought it lovely, whereas one found it foul!

We found many similar elements though one lady found this one a bit tough and rough, much heavier… she also found the revisit, not at all to her liking. Whereas for others, this was a good place to begin, appreciating the fruity flavours and how they contrasted with something of more substance followed by a pleasant finish. When I read David’s tasting notes, there was overall agreement!

And finally, from our next Mumbai evening, November 2022, did we have anything to add? In truth, much of what the ladies found rang true.. so much so that I simply blended the observations with the gents into those of the ladies!

Overall we thought whilst adding water didn’t do too much for the nose, it really improved the palate, bringing out the fruity elements, apple jack, grapes, reinforcing the herbal close.

And with that, our explorations began… next? The stunning Toremore 28 year!
What did David have to say?

I’ve always been a fan of this distillery’s charming and somewhat classy spirit, even if it’s often felt a bit under the radar.

The nose has a toffee-apple-esque balance of sweetness (butterscotch, cinnamon sugar, pain au raisin) and tart green fruits (lime, apple). The palate has a thick and oily texture, with caramel wafer, malted milk biscuits, peachy fruits and lemon peel. The finish is malty and hazelnutty. A hefty spirit, here, but with light feet!

This whisky was distilled on the 21st April 2009, and matured in a refill hogshead until being bottled in July 2021. It produced 287 bottles at a cask strength of 56.6%.

I purchased this in July 2021 for £65 plus tax and courier charges.

Here are a few more from Chorlton‘s earlier L’Ancien Régime series:

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Chorlton Birthday Drams – Glen Elgin, Tormore, Orkney, Bunnahabhain

This Chorlton quartet was the birthday gift that just kept giving! It began as a single bottle purchased as an extra special 60th birthday gift. Then the other Bombay Malt & Cigar gents offered to ‘chip in’, so I purchased another 2 bottles. The trio was then augmented with an additional bottle to become a remarkable quartet!

All four were from the La Nouvelle Vague series:

The quartet was originally opened in June 2022 in London during a special evening with Sukhinder Singh (Elixir, The Whisky Exchange) and two Bombay Malt & Cigar gents (naturally including the “birthday boy!). As I missed it, we rescheduled for October 2022, also in London, sharing with a former Bombay Whisky Lady and other friends.

However, our tastings with these bottles weren’t done! Two sets of 100ml samples were re-bottled and dispatched to Mumbai for two evenings:

  • Whisky Ladies on November 1 as a special joint birthday treat for myself and one other Whisky Lady (sharing the same birthday) who flew in from Hyderabad… the only challenge here was splitting 100ml between 8 ladies!
  • Bombay Malt & Cigar gents on Nov 6 to share with the others who were intended to be part of the original 60th birthday celebration that inspired the whole set! Which just so happened to also be my partner’s birthday (who joined us for dinner)

It was so interesting to see the commonalities and differences between the tasting sessions! Different settings, different personalities, and different whisky style preferences meant we could experience different dimensions. What an incredibly rewarding way to experience such lovely and varied whiskies!

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