- Glentauchers 2002 14 Years Old
- Glen Keith 1995 20 Years Old
- Miltonduff 1995 21 Years Old
- Invergordon 1988 27 Years Old
The fourth and last bottle to be featured is the Invergordon 1988 27 Years Old expression which has been bottled for the bar.
Invergordon distillery was founded in 1961 by Invergordon Distillers Ltd (which was itself founded in 1959) with the sole purpose of producing bulk grain whisky for blends.
The distillery is an anomaly in the sense that it is the only grain distillery in the Highland region of Scotland (whereas the vast majority of the grain distilleries which were established over the years have been located in the Lowland region due to its proximity to both Edinburgh and Glasgow).
The distillery was built with one pair of Coffey stills (these stills vary from the traditional pot stills in the sense that they can be used for continuous distillation purposes) and another pair was installed in 1963 in order to increase production capacity.
An interesting and little known fact is that Invergordon was also the site for a malt distillery by the name of Ben Wyvis. The distillery was established in 1965 and was closed for good 12 years later, so not much information is available about it. No official bottlings were ever released and so Ben Wyvis is extremely rare and has only been bottled on a handful of occasions by various independent bottlers.
The distillery underwent a further expansion in 1978, when another pair of Coffey stills were installed with additional columns. These new stills were larger than the existing ones and increased production capacity further to its present limit of 36 million litres of pure alcohol on an annual basis.
The distillery released an official bottling in 1990, The Invergordon 10 Years Old, with the hope that the lighter and more delicate flavour of the grain whisky would appeal to female drinkers. Although the expression was well regarded, it was withdrawn from the market a few years after, but not before winning a Silver medal at the 2000 International Wine & Spirits Competition.
Invergordon Distillers Ltd was purchased by Whyte & Mackay in 1993 and the latter was itself purchased in 2013 by United Distillers. However, as the majority of United Distillers was owned by Diageo, the Office of Fair Trading ordered them to sell part or all of Whyte & Mackay in order to prevent anti-competitive issues within the industry.
The sale was completed in July 2014, when Diageo sold Whyte & Mackay to Emperador Inc of the Philippines, who are the largest producer of brandy in the world. It was previously hinted that Diageo was intent on holding on to both Dalmore and Tamnavulin distilleries, but in the end they sold the company and all of its distilleries (Dalmore, Fettercairn, Isle of Jura, Tamnavulin and Invergordon) to Emperador.
The distillery is capable of producing up up to 36 million litres on an annual basis (although this can be increased to 40 million litres if need be) and the new make spirit is distilled to a strength of 94.4% abv before being cut with water to a more respectable 71% abv before being filled into predominantly refill hogshead casks.
This week's review focuses on the Invergordon 1988 27 Years Old expression which has been bottled at a standard abv of 45.8% for The Single Cask.
Interestingly, this expression was distilled and bottled on the same day (1st of February) 28 years apart. However, the label states 27 years old as the spirit was distilled in the afternoon whereas it was bottled in the morning, which makes this expression just hours shy of 28 years old!
The Single Cask Invergordon 1988 27 Years Old (45.8% abv)
Colour: Pale gold
Nose: Initial entry presents a pronounced alcoholic note that is typical of most grain whiskies, followed by a slight floral note that is reminiscent of violets as well as a generous helping of wheat (which I suspect is the grain of choice for this particular expression).
With time, the alcohol notes mellow and hints of wheat flour, vanilla, cinnamon and oak make an appearance. When left to its own devices for at least 20 minutes, notes which are reminiscent of cognac emerge and it is followed by lemon, honeydew and kiwi.
Palate: Sweet and slightly spicy on initial entry, with a slight acetone note coupled with wheat, a certain green leafy note and surprisingly, ripe banana. The sweetness is fleeting though, as cinnamon, vanilla and black pepper emerge shortly after. If given at least 20 minutes to mellow out, the cognac-esque notes along with the fruits detected on the nose also make an appearance on the palate.
Finish: Long, lingering and warming on the finish, with some of the fruity notes from the nose and palate carrying through along with the cognac-esque notes. It gets quite mellow towards the end, but there remains a certain bite.
Balance: Quite a well-balanced and immensely drinkable dram and this is a very good representation of the Invergordon house style. If anything, this expression is solid proof that grain whiskies can be enjoyable.
The Single Cask Invergordon 1988 27 Years Old is available for purchase by the bottle or by the dram for in-bar consumption or by the bottle for retail/takeaway purposes. Please approach our friendly bar staff for more information and assistance.
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