When anticipation and experience differ – Glenburgie 8 year 46%

You know when you are highly anticipating a treat? And then the experience falls short?

I’ve been partial to Glenburgie, appreciating the classic quality, the pears, yum! Like many distilleries making whisky primarily for blends, you can primarily find it from independent bottlers – particularly Gordon & Macphail.

So when I spotted this young Glenburgie in Edinburgh from Hunter Laing Hepburn’s Choice in August 2020, it was an easy decision to pick up this 200ml bottle – even if it was rather pricey. I wasn’t worried 8 years would be too young, reinforced by the most enjoyable TBWC 8 year! Then it sat quietly for a couple years.

Fast forward to May 2022 with visits from a few fellow whisky aficionados and it seemed the right moment. So out came this wee bottle, ready to be explored!

It took very little time to determine this was quite different from what I’d thought to find…

Glenburgie 8 year (2007) 46% (Hepburn’s Choice)

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Freshly opened it had an almost rubber element, almost like cod liver oil, sour, apple mash, young, hay or straw, cardamon….
  • Palate – Initially a bit rough… Then became a bit nutty – mostly hazelnuts, curious, waxy, a bit of a burn, but was growing on us

Not the elegant sophisticated Glenburgies I’ve come to expect… If anything, it reminded me a bit of Talisker…

Until we added water… what a difference!

At 46%, it was a bit harsh and imbalanced. Nothing like previous whiskies from Glenburgie. With water, I could finally find some elements I’d come to associate with the distillery, yet still quite different too.

  • Nose – Watermelon, cherries, raspberry, fruity, scones, honey
  • Palate – Don’t laugh – it reminds me a bit of creamed corn! Mellower and malty

I could see it working well with others but as a single cask on its own? Didn’t even come close to meeting expectations though with water was quite a decent dram.

So what about these earlier experiences with Glenburgie I keep mentioning? Well here are a few:

I still have 2 more Glenburgie bottles ready for another opportunity!

  • 14 year (2004/2019) 43% (G&MP Discovery)
  • 21 year 43% (G&M)

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Additionally, there are two ‘off-shoots’ with:

Blair Athol 16 year 50% (Hunter Laing – The Old Malt Cask)

Blair Athol distillery is part of Dieageo, however it isn’t one of their single malts that is so well known in these parts. That said, if you’ve ever had Bell‘s, you’ve had Blair Athol whisky.

We were fortunate to try a 16 year old from an independent bottler… read on…

Blair Athol (Old Malt Cask)

Blair Athol 16 year (Old Malt Cask) 50%

  • Colour – Deep gold
  • Nose – Heather, saddle ready to go horseback riding, subtle caramel, more distinct matured cheese, sour curd, citrus orange, in the ‘rancio’ category
  • Taste – Coconut oil, sweet and clearly an older whisky from a bourbon cask
  • Finish – Long, delayed spice
  • Water? Too enamoured with the full flavours to be distracted by a drop of pani (water)

Reactions – An excellent winter whisky without smoke

Quote of the eve – As though an elegant lady sauntered in the room, then turned out to be completely wild! 

The reveal – Part of Hunter Laing & Co’s Old Malt Cask series. From May 1997, bottled in Oct 2013, 1 of 545 bottles.

We first sampled this in Oct 2014 together with Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu ‘The Floor Malted’ 3 year and Glen Deveron 20 year.

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