Dream Drams – Mosstowie 35 year (1979) 48.1%

Our Dream Drams evening in Mumbai with Malt Maniac’s Krishna Nakula, continued with this Mosstowie 35 year from Signatory Vintage‘s mature cask strength series.

Krishna shared the distinctive feature of this whisky is it was produced using Lomond stills.

Founded in 1964, it was “closed” in 1981 with the Lomond stills removed from the Miltonduff Distillery. These stills were built in the 1960s with the idea of using the 3 adjustable rectifier plates to play around with “the position and temperature of the plates the reflux of the ‘boiling’ whisky could be controlled. The angle of the ‘lyne arm’ at the top of the still could be modified as well to influence the character of the whisky further.” (Malt Madness) The thinking was this would produce exactly what blenders needed and hence would be in demand.

However this innovation fell into disfavour as the maintenance and cleaning was very labour intensive. And more importantly, the demand from blenders did not come close to expectations… Hence while the distillery Miltonduff remains, you won’t find much Mosstowie single malt these days.

What did we find?

Mosstowie 35 year (30 November 1979/15 May 2015), Bourbon Barrel Cask Mo 25756, 48.1% (Signatory Vintage Cask Strength) 171 Bottles

  • Nose – We were greeted initially with sweet varnish, then as that subsided, citrus creamy spice took over, some star anise, lots of oriental spices, sour cherry, cork, fermented sour dough starter, desiccated coconut, kopra, nuts… there was a ‘bourbonesque’ quality, with old wood furniture… one even suggested smelly socks!
  • Palate – Lovely coating, wonderful mouth feel, a dash of salt and almost too much honey, yet settled into something both enjoyable and sufficiently complex to be interesting
  • Finish – Dry, again a bit salty, very sweet, a bit of beeswax, muted but very much there
  • Water – We found it dampened the nose, sweetened it even more, made it less multi-dimensional, only advantage was it gave the finish a nice spicy pick-up

We concluded this whisky had a very interesting complexity. A wee sample bottle of this made it home and was revisited a few weeks later. If anything, it was even more exceptional.

Tasting notes by the chaps at Master of Malt:

  • Nose: Oily toffee, marmalade, vanilla, ginger and cocoa.
  • Palate: Smoky wood spices and honeycomb with touches of menthol and kumquat.
  • Finish: Malty and warming.

This bottle was purchased at The Whisky Exchange in London in 2016 and is no longer available through them. However it was last seen on WhiskyBase.com for € 429.50.

What else did we sample?

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Dream Drams – Mortlach 1976, Lochside 1981, Mosstowie 1979, Aultmore 2007

There are tasting experiences that collectively push the bar to a completely different level.

On this particular monsoon evening in Mumbai with Malt Maniac’s Krishna Nakula, none were standard distillery drams. All but one would qualify as ‘adult‘ whiskies, representative of an older style… From Gordon & MacPhail‘s rare old collection  of closed distilleries to Signatory Vintage‘s mature cask strength set to a unique Master of Malt single cask series, these were no ordinary single malts.

These were the drams that dreams are made of… prompting a few of us wonder… are we truly worthy?

What did we sample?

You will simply need to be patient over the coming weeks as I catch up with all the marvellous malts enjoyed. Trust me… it will be worth the wait.

And a HUUUUGE thank you to our host, whisky contributors who made such an exceptional evening possible! You know who you are.

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Affordable Adults – Blair Athol 27 year 55.7%

Last in our ‘no brainers’ set of affordable adult whiskies was a Blair Athol.

Now for some, spending $160 for a whisky is not actually affordable. However when you consider it was matured for 27 years and bottled at cask strength… well… in some folks books this remains in the realm of ‘reasonable’.

From the Highlands, Blair Athol  is by far the boldest of the bunch sampled, known for nutty, sherry and spicy whiskies.

What did we find?

Blair Athol 27 Year

Blair Athol 27 year (1988/2016) 55.7%

Distilled 14 Oct 1988, bottled on 16 May 2016, matured in refilled sherry butt Cask No 6845, outrun 565 bottles from Signatory’s Cask Strength series.

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Bold sherry elements – raisons, plums, rum toffee sweetness, musty old world oak, hint of mint
  • Palate – Heavy and full bodied, chocolate nuts & raisins bar, candied citrus orange peel, christmas plum pudding, let it settle and a more vegetal quality emerges from beneath all the sherry berry elements
  • Finish – Long and very dry with sweet spices
  • Water – A dash brought out a cinnamon spice

This is a robust whisky, no mistaking the clear sherry stamp. If such a style appeals to you, then this is indeed a solid example. For one member, sweet sherry whiskies is right up his ally. For another, he prefers less obvious drams, where there is a more subtle balance between the elements.

Here is what The Whisky Exchange folks share:

A 27-year-old whisky from Blair Athol, matured in a refill sherry butt, specially selected by The Whisky Exchange and bottled exclusively for us. It’s a rich and obviously sherried dram, with balanced fruit and spice.

Dense and dark and an exemplary Blair Athol –  Dave Broom, Scotchwhisky.com
  • Blair Athol 27 close-upNose: Sharp aromatics leap out of the glass immediately after pouring – green leaves, freshly cut grass, and sweet and sappy oak – but they quickly burn off to reveal more sweetness underneath. Toffee and butter shortbread are joined by lemon drizzle cake, mixed fruit jam, apple sauce and thickly buttered fruit loaf slathered with lemon curd.
  • Palate: Intense sweetness fades to reveal savoury notes – oatcakes and dry toast. Sweetness builds again, with toffee and spiced apple purée becoming almost overpowering, before revealing a core of sweet green leaves, caramel and citrus peel. The intensity softens, leaving floral and soft leafy notes.
  • Finish: Sharp spice fades to honey and green leafiness.
  • Comment: Intense but worth the ride – layers of sweet and savoury, focusing on the cask character.
Thanks Duncan at The Whisky Exchange for the recommendation!
Others in our ‘Affordable Adults‘ evening included:

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Affordable Adults – Imperial 20 year 54.8%

First up in our ‘no brainers’ set of affordable adult whiskies was an offering from Imperial distillery. Never heard of it?

That could be because it was closed much of its existence – four times, last in 1998 and then demolished in 2013.  Rumour has it the owners of the brand (Chivas Brothers aka Pernod Ricard) have plans of opening a new distillery at the ill-fated Imperial’s site in Carron, Speyside under a new avatar – Dalmunach.

That could also be because it seems to have had only one official bottling – a 15 year – with the balance going into blends or limited independent bottlings. Such as the one we acquired from Signatory.

And why Imperial? The name was inspired by the distillery’s construction in 1897  which coincided with Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Yet it was clearly a ‘no brainer’ as how often can you buy a cask strength 20 year whisky from a discontinued distillery for under $100 that also happens to be rather drinkable?

Imperial 20 year

Imperial 20 year (1995/2016) 54.8%

Distilled on 18 September 1995, bottled on 04 Mar 2016 at cask strength, matured in hogsheads Casks No 50254 + 50256 and bottle 251 of 495, part Signatory’s Cask Strength Collection.

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Immediate impression of a light, refreshing, floral whisky, meadows, honey, yet slightly astringent, think pear drops… however the beauty of this whisky is it did not remain in that space alone… With water, the sweetness was dampened making way for hint of spice, gooseberry, citrus, light new wood like balsa… let it air even longer and more woodsy, malty elements emerges with cereals, leaves yet still a freshness
  • Palate – Boiled sweets, all sweetness and light on the tip of the tongue with no depth, no body, no finish… initially… 2nd sip is a little harsher yet still sweet… then wait… as you settle in with this whisky is slowly reveals other dimensions, gently, a little tasty yet bitter sour quality emerged. With water, the almost too sweet candied element was dulled, making way for betel nut, lemon rind, dark bitter chocolate, toast and tea
  • Finish – Most remarkable transformation… first sip and most confidently pronounced ‘no discernible finish’. However let it open, add a few drops of water and voila! A seriously long finish, slightly bitter with a mix of lemon zest and a woody quality.

Overall this is a very approachable dram, subtle, yet with enough going on to keep you company for some time. One that you may initially dismiss as being too lightweight and sweet when first opened yet give it time to slowly unfurl… and you will not regret your patience.

Our opinion was slightly divided with some preferring it neat, not wanting to mess with the sweet sweet sweet quality in its natural state… Others felt its complexity and true character only surfaced with a few drops revealing beneath the gorgeous sweet a more nuanced creature with bitter edges.

In short, a brilliant discovery, one only a few can enjoy with under 500 bottles in existence. If I was popping to London any time soon, this would be the kind of whisky I’d snap up and keep – perhaps grabbing the Gordon & MacPhail bottle or the a related Signatory if this Signatory Vintage Cask Collection bottle is no longer available.

It may not be the most remarkable whisky ever but it is more than just a decent dram and a unique nip of whisky history worth appreciating.

Imperial 20 year closeup

Here is what The Whisky Exchange folks have to say about a related bottle (ours was Signatory Vintage – Cask Collection):

Soft, sweet and floral whisky from closed Imperial – complex and perfect for relaxed summer evenings. 
  • Nose: Honeysuckle, candy necklaces, Victoria sponge, rose water, Battenberg cake and hints of freshly cut grass. Biscuity notes build – Nice and custard creams vie for attention – along with resinous and sappy touches. Spicy candied ginger sits at the back.
  • Palate: The floral notes from the nose burst on to the palate, with a side order of toasted raisin bagels and creamy butter. Sharper and sweeter flavours develop, with autumn leaves, grass and bark balanced by golden syrup and lemon sherbert.
  • Finish: Woody spices fade to green leaves and sweet earthy notes.
  • Comment: Light, delicate and floral on the nose, with a kick of complexity on the palate.
Thanks Duncan at The Whisky Exchange for the recommendation!
Others in our ‘Affordable Adults‘ evening included:

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on: