Some recent Glen Elgins, and a Small Lament

Selling Whisky for a living is fun, and mostly pretty straightforward. "What do you like? Oh, well this and this are pretty similar, or this is pretty special".

But when I talk to whisky enthusiasts, fellow malt heads, I often find myself pursuing a gloomier line. "You had better grab this indie Mortlach while you can. The new official releases mean all future bottles will cost twice as much"; "Of course, it's all been matured on the mainland since the early 2000s so the taste is bound to change in a year or two".

And so it is with Glen Elgin, perhaps the fruitiest of Speysiders (or at least up there in the top three with Mortlach and Glenrothes). Until 2012, according to the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2013, Glen Elgin ran two different fermentations. During the week at 76 hours, and 120 hours over the weekend.

Following the addition of three new washbacks, so as to increase capacity by 50%, this approach has been dropped, and replaced with a standard 90 hour fermentation.

The result can only be a loss of complexity, which will become apparent in the malt in a decade or so. See this article at Chemistry of the Cocktail for an excellent and detailed explanation. You heard the moaning here first.

All of this is by way of a preamble to the following Glen Elgin tasting notes. It's a Speysider I particularly like, and I do hope my prefatory grumble will maker these expressions seem all the tastier.

Gordon & Macphail Connoisseurs Choice Glen Elgin 1996, 46%
nose: fruity, like fresh chopped apples. Light lactic notes, then light woody spice, then more fruit; chocolate banana sweets.
palate: rounded & fruity. Thick fruity syrup. Adding water brings out a tangy apple note.
(tasted 2013-10-08: not rated)

Blackadder Raw Cask Glen Elgin 17yo, 57.3%
nose: spicey (ginger), malty, slightly lactic, apple-y
palate: Quite light and dry and fruity. Water sweetens it and brings out a waxy toffee apple flavour, then sweet burnt toffee with a touch of smoke.
(tasted 2013-10-28: excellent)

Milroy's Glen Elgin 17yo 1995/2013, 46%
nose: airy, fresh, sappy and sweet. Grassy, then malt loaf
palate: sweet banana malt. Woody, then bananas and oranges. Fruity, thick and sweet. Malty
(tasted 2013-10-30 as part of a tweet tasting: not rated)


Ridgeview Pimlico

English sparkling wine is a very fine thing indeed, if not yet the equal of champagne, but I wouldn't say the same of such English still red wines as I've tasted (although that's no great sample size - not even a handful).

Hence, via some unconscious calculus of likely quality, I had no great expectations of a bottle of Ridgeview Pimlico. And so I was very pleasantly surprised - it's delicious.

It pours a dark, dark red, with properly pink froth, sending my mind on Austral paths, but of course the cepage is the Pinots Noir & Meunier, so it is light in body, despite the dark colour.

The nose is a very attractive mix of bitter cherry and dark chocolate. The palate matches the nose precisely, and adds a mature, gamey note - although I was reminded more of Chianti and Sangiovese than Burgundy and Pinot Noir.

The finish, alas, is short and abrupt, but nevertheless, for the colours and flavours, I would rate it as mostly excellent.

There didn't appear to be a vintage marked on the bottle, but it seems that this was made in 2003  because it was such a hot year that the grapes were supremely ripe. So don't be looking for this in your local wine merchant any time soon.