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It doesn’t feel like so long ago that I was penning a review of the Octomore 8.2 whilst bidding farewell to 2017 but somehow, I now find myself in December, facing the prospect of selecting an appropriate dram with which to see out another year.
I have never really seen the point in awarding any dram ‘best whisky’ status. After all, who am I to say which is best? Nevertheless, I like to save a bottle which has stood out from the crowd and make it my final review of the year. Not necessarily the best, just something that suits the occasion of New Year’s Eve. A whisky that can stand up to the responsibility of being the last sip of one year and the first of the next.
Having been fortunate enough to enjoy some incredible whiskies in the last 12 months, this was never going to be an easy decision to make. I knew that I wanted to avoid Islay if possible, since I had chosen an Islay malt the last two years running but other than that, I was open to anything. In the end, however, despite stiff competition from the likes of North Star Spirits, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Glen Scotia, I kept returning to a single grain bottling that had been released all the way back in May by the Good Spirits Co. of Glasgow.
The town of Invergordon was founded in the early part of the 18th century in the north-east of Scotland. Its deep, natural harbour made for an excellent port and the town soon established itself as an industrial hub, with reliable transport to the south via the sea.
The same conditions eventually attracted the Royal Navy, who established a base during the First World War and remained there until 1956. When the Navy pulled out, however, it left a huge gap in local employment opportunities, a demand that would later be met with the construction of a large-scale grain distillery in 1961. By 1965, a pair of pot stills had been added to create the ‘distillery within a distillery’ in the form of Ben Wyvis. It made Invergordon one of the few sites in the country to produce both malt and grain spirit simultaneously.
Ben Wyvis ceased operations in 1977 and its pot stills can now be found in operation at the rejuvenated Glengyle distillery in Campbeltown. Invergordon, meanwhile, remains in production as one of only 7 grain distilleries in Scotland.
Official bottlings of single grain are rare, with the vast majority of liquid used to create blended scotch whisky. It is becoming more common however, to see single cask expressions from independent bottlers and here, Glasgow’s Good Spirits Co. have uncovered a real corker, matured for 24 years in a Pedro Ximenez sherry cask. Bottled at 48.2%, only 120 bottles exist, making it ultra-limited. Despite this rarity however, it is priced very sensibly at £75 a bottle.
Smell: Dried Fruits, Maple Syrup, Treacle, Coconut, Chocolate, Honey, Cinnamon and Orange.
Taste: Orange, Nutmeg, Toffee, Fudge, Dried Fruits, Berries, Maple Syrup, Biscuit and Oak.
Thoughts: £75 may be stretching the definition of affordable a little but you won’t find too many drams at this kind of age for under £100. Yes it is only a grain whisky but the sherry maturation creates something unlike the vast majority of other grains.
A quite excellent dram that ranks as highly as any grain I’ve come across. At 24 years it’s reached a level of maturity that doesn’t often come at such a reasonable price and the flavour profile is as rich and nuanced as any single malt. There have been some great bottles released by the Good Spirits Co over the last few years and this is a match for any of them.
My thanks to all who have taken the time to read this, or any of my other reviews over the last year and beyond. I’m finding it hard to believe that I’ve written four New Year Dram reviews now, but I’m already looking forward to the next 12 months and all the drams that are out there waiting to be discovered. Thank you for reading, for following and for engaging across social media, I really appreciate every single view this website gets and I hope that you continue to enjoy my content in the months and years ahead.
Here’s to 2019!
Happy New Year!
Neill @ WhiskyReviews.net