KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2016: Day 5

5 12 2016

It was an immediate case of double whisky deja vu tonight, as another Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice whisky emerged from the calendar, the second in five days following Day 1’s ultra-exuberant dram.  But the recall did not stop there:  rewind 10 Whisky Days to Day 20 of 2015, where the Connoisseurs Choice in question was a single malt from the little-known Inchgower distillery.  Now jump back to the present, where the Connoisseurs Choice in question is…a single malt from the little-known Inchgower distillery.  Um.  The cool thing about the 2016 version of Inchgower is that it was bottled this year and isn’t even available for purchase yet in Calgary; you can pre-order it at KWM now for $100.  While last calendar’s Inchgower was a 14-year malt, this one may be the first ever 11-year single malt I have ever seen, distilled in 2005 and bottled in 2016; whisky in prime numbers, I guess.

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A familiar face, a familiar result.

Inchgower is the type of distillery that the Connoisseurs Choice lineup was created to showcase, a hardworking but under-the-radar producer that almost never sees its whisky bottled under its own name.  To paraphrase myself from 10 whisky blog entries ago in order to avoid unnecessary work, less than 1% of Inchgower’s production is labelled and sold as an Inchgower malt:  most of the fruits of its labour anonymously form part of the backbone of big-time Diageo blends like Bell’s, Johnny Walker and White Horse.  It’s located in Speyside, which the label of this bottle optimistically refers to as “the Premier Cru of single malt scotch” (inadvertently leaving open the question of who the Grand Cru is…I’ll let the Highlands and Islay fight it out).

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They’re known as the WHAT??

This 11 year-old bottling is somehow darker than its 14 year-old older brother, despite both being matured in refill sherry casks.  A slightly grungy nose blends shoe polish, leather, salt lick, pinecones and almonds, and isn’t helped much by the addition of water.  Things thankfully get somewhat more pleasing once the Inchgower hits your lips, where you try to decipher a strange but interesting mix of peanut shells, apricot, pennies and celery salt, all of which hang around cautiously after you swallow like high school kids in a new social situation.  It’s fun to meet a new distillery once, no matter how the whisky is; with Inchgower, I think twice is enough.  Onward.

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