April 04, 2016
Continuing on from last week's Linkwood-centric review, today's review will also focus on another bottling from the increasingly popular distillery and this one has been bottled specifically for The Single Cask.
But before we delve into the review, let's take a trip through history as we seek to understand the origins of this distillery and the wonderful whisky that it produces.
Linkwood distillery (Picture credit: www.mapio.net)
The distillery was founded in 1821 by Peter Brown, who ran it until 1868 when he passed away. Control of the distillery then passed on to his son William, who proceeded to demolish the distillery in 1872 and rebuild another in its place.
The distillery remained under William's ownership until 1897, when it was purchased by a consortium through their newly founded business entity, Linkwood Glenlivet Distillery Company Ltd.
In 1902, a whisky trader from Elgin by the name of Innes Cameron attained a seat on the board of Linkwood Glenlivet Distillery Company Ltd and eventually became the majority shareholder and director of the company and its assets.
The distillery remained under his control for the next 30 years until his death, when it was sold to Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD). As we are all well aware by now, SMD one of the vital cogs within the mighty Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) machinery which eventually became a part of the spirits behemoth, Diageo.
The distillery was refurbished in 1962 and SMD went one step further by building a new distillery within the same grounds in 1971 (the old distillery was from then on referred to as Linkwood A and the new distillery as Linkwood B).
Linkwood A produced a different kind of whisky from what we see today as it was equipped with worm tubs, thus giving the whisky a meatier and slightly more sulphurous character.
The stills at Linkwood. (Picture credit: www.isgplc.com)
Both Linkwood A and B operated in tandem until 1985, when Linkwood A was mothballed. The distillery reopened in 1990 and operated for a few short months every year until 1996, when it was once again mothballed.
In the meantime, Linkwood became an important component within several of Diageo's blends and this increasing need forced them to expand the distillery twice in 2011-2013. The old distillery, Linkwood A, was demolished and the current Linkwood B stillhouse was expanded to accommodate more stills.
The distillery now sports a full lauter mash tun, 11 wooden washbacks (which have a capacity of 80,000 litres but are only filled up to 57,000 litres) and 3 pairs of stills. The 2 old stills from Linkwood A were refurbished and moved to the new stillhouse alongside the 4 stills from Linkwood B.
As mentioned in the previous article, most blenders who have had the opportunity to utilise the whisky produced at Linkwood as a part of their blends tend to fall in love with it due to its combination of fresh, fruity and green/grassy flavours as well as its powerful mouthfeel.
In order to achieve this character, the distillery tries to get the wort as clear as possible while practising long fermentations of at least 75 hours and filling the stills up till just above the man door in order to enhance the copper contact as much as possible.
Linkwood at night. (Picture credit: www.lumixgexperience.panasonic.co.uk)
On top of that, the distillery also allows the stills to rest for at least an hour between distillation runs in order for the copper to regenerate. With all the new expansions and upgrades, the distillery is now able to produce up to 5.6 million litres of pure alcohol on an annual basis, almost all of which is allocated to the various blends within the Diageo portfolio.
Another aspect of the upgrade is that the distillery is now fully automated, with all processes being controlled by computers. As such, the distillery only requires a handful of staff (sometimes even as little as one person!) to be on site at any time in order to monitor the distillery operations.
It can get rather boring at times. (Picture credit: www.au-automation.co.uk)
So, let's get on with the review!
Linkwood 1995 18 Years Old (Bottled for The Single Cask)
Linkwood 1995 18 Years Old (51.2% abv, Bottled for The Single Cask)
Nose: Robust and intensely fruity on initial entry, with the fruitiness growing over time and becoming rather prominent. Grassy notes coupled with some menthol and cloves appear after some time and there is a savoury element which is rather enticing.
Palate: True to the nose, this expression is a veritable fruit bomb! Initial entry presents apricots, peaches and lemony citrus notes and some sweet malt. This grows in strength over time and interacts very well with the spicier elements (cloves and black pepper).
Menthol, grassy hints and some oakiness present themselves over time and add to the intensely fruity character of this dram.
Finish: The fruit bomb detonates, coating the palate very well and providing a long, sligntly spicy and intensely fruity finish.
Balance: A very well balanced dram which is the epitome of a fruit bomb and yet incorporates the other elements (sweet, spicy and woody) very well. The mouthfeel is drying towards the end but only serves to add more dimensions to a characterful dram.
The Linkwood 1995 18 Years Old is available at The Single Cask and can be purchased by the dram for $36 (with an additional 10% service charge levied on top) at the bar. For those who are looking to purchase a bottle of this expression, it is available in bar for $412 (with an additional 10% service charge levied on top) per bottle or via takeaway/retail for $288.40 per bottle.
Patrons are also able to purchase a 100ml sample bottle for in bar consumption or retail purposes from The Single Cask and the price is available upon on enquiry from one of our friendly bar staff.
Written by Brendan Pillai for The Single Cask
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