Glengoyne 21 year marmalade

Now the gents I enjoy the Malt & Cigar evenings with tend to prefer the finer things in life. And have the means to indulge their predilections.

Our memorable kick-off with four ‘adult’ whiskies, all 21 years and older, was partly burned forever in our brains as the night four mature whisky corks all crumbled and the night we decimated a rare beautiful whisky – the Balblair 38 year and added the stunning Laphroaig T5 21 year as an afterthought!

Glenlivet, Glengoyne, Balblair

The runt of the litter that night was clearly the Glengoyne 21 year. At the time, I found it a bit ‘queer’… however when an opportunity presented itself to revisit, thought what the heck! And tried it with someone not earlier ‘tainted’ by our poor opinion…

Here is what we found in our revisit:

  • Nose – Sweet sherry spice
  • Palate – Woody, ginger
  • Finish – Nutmeg spice after smoking

I kid you not but ‘headache inducing’ and ‘burnt flesh at the back of the throat’ were real comments.

We further speculated that perhaps in the interest of achieving a coveted ‘age’ statement, some of the whisky had simply matured too long or perhaps it could be chalked up to our queer cork theory.

To put into perspective, we originally found:

  • ggoob-21yoNose – Sherry! Plums, caramel, very ripe figs, vanilla, sugar sweet, raisins, dried fruits
  • Palate – Woody, port… honestly a little too oaky. As in sat in the cask too long…
  • Finish – Long dry sherry spice with a wood hangover
  • Water – Opens it up a little and adds some zing!

In the end we concluded, that while not a complete disaster, it was far from a delight. Certainly not a whisky any of us would chose to drink.

The owner of the bottle admitted he’s been ‘scared’ and ‘scarred’ by this Glengoyne experience dismissing the distillery even when he receives recommendations from those he otherwise trusts.

And then entered the idea of a malty marmalade. It began as a joke, however the very elements that make the Glengoyne a little too woody, sherry, sweet… might actually be a quite fabulous counterpoint to the citrus in marmalade.

The very next day the Glengoyne 21 year was whisky off the marmalade maker’s home.

When finally will we have an opportunity to sample the fruit of the folly?

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Adult Whiskies Night – Glengoyne 21, Glenlivet 21, Balbair 38 year

Ssssshhhhhh! I secretly joined a 3rd whisky tasting group in Mumbai. It is all very hush hush! A decidedly male affair in rarified atmosphere and swirling cigar smoke.

And for our first evening together whiskies and cigars?

Adult whiskies all 21 year and above… if you please! And quality cigars only men (and women!) of means can afford…


So what did the gentlemen and I discover in our ‘adult’ explorations?

Glengoyne 21 year 43%

  • Nose – Sherry! Plums, caramel, very ripe figs, vanilla, sugar sweet, raisins, dried fruits
  • Palate – Woody, port… honestly a little too oaky. As in sat in the cask too long…
  • Finish – Long dry sherry spice with a wood hangover
  • Water – Opens it up a little and adds some zing!

Sigh… not a promising beginning… after a very berry sherry nose, it was on the edge of being off on the palate. And who wants a long finish if it isn’t utterly delicious?

I felt rather embarrassed to ask our host if he would be horribly offended if I dumped the rest of my sample to move on to the next whisky. Let’s just say I wasn’t alone in doing this.

Glenlivet 21 year 43%

  • Nose – Sugar, spice, orange peel, light raisins, paint thinner, resins
  • Palate – Spice, walnuts
  • Finish – There but…
  • Water – No one bothered…

Double sigh… I remembered the 21 year being  bit insipid from an earlier tasting. This experience did not change my impression. Note the lack of notes. Uninspired. Completely.

Again… just wasn’t the whisky for me. I was beginning to feel like Goldilocks and the three bears. This one is too woody, this one too wimpy… Would I find a whisky that is juuuust right?

Balblair 38 year (1966/2004) Bottle 212 44%

  • Nose – Elegant, aged wood, bursting with character and history, soft prunes, light drizzle of honey, not overly sweet – just enough, as it continued to open shifted to raisins, orange peel, then a little light mint, and then the dry sweet spices of cinnamon, cloves and cardamon emerged – heavenly!
  • Palate – Leather, worm wood, so smooth – absolutely no edges, lovely warmth, full bodied, with the sherry characteristics there but more  gentle dance than the heavy hand some sherry cask whiskies acquire
  • Finish – An absolutely gorgeous finish. Simply superb!
  • Water – Sacralige

Holy mother of @$!! They say good things come to those who wait. This was an absolutely brilliant example of just that! In short, it was a remarkable whisky in a completely different category. There was simply no comparison with the earlier two whiskies.

This limited edition bottle was distilled in 1966 in a second fill Spanish oak sherry cask, bottled in September 2004. Had an absolutely perfect balance of sherry elements softened by maturity into a deep, complex, exquisite dram.

Glenlivet, Glengoyne, Balblair

In fairness to the other offerings, I suspect the Glengoyne may have been spoilt by the cork which crumbled completely and had to be carefully poured to not get bits mixed with each sip. Glenlivet… perfectly pleasant mass offering. Just not my tipple. But the Balblair? One of those moments where I knew just how privileged we ALL were to experience such a whisky.

Believe it or not, after the Balblair 38 was polished off (Noooo!)… A Laphroaig 21 year was opened!! Suffice it to say, it was a perfect smokey peaty mature close to our malt evening.

I would be hopeless at doing justice to the cigars… the gentlemen puffed away with desultory enthusiasm and I quite enjoyed my ladylike cigar carefully selected by our host for a complete neophyte.

All in all an exceptional evening and I look forward to the next one in a couple of months!

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