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I love the Green Welly Stop. When you’re travelling to the Western Highlands from Glasgow, the Welly feels a bit like the last bastion of civilisation before you enter a dramatic wilderness that leads to some of the most spectacular landscapes in Scotland.
The business that would become the Green Welly Stop was established in 1965 when husband and wife Betty and Les Gosden sold their house in Edinburgh, cashed in their pensions and moved to Tyndrum. The house they bought had six bedrooms and came with a post office, shop, two travelling vans, petrol pumps and a coal business.
The family saw potential in the place. It’s location on a main road, with two railway stations nearby brought plenty of passing trade and with little in the way of stopping places for many miles north, the Gosdens were soon expanding. A coffee house with seating for 24 people was added, followed by a craft shop. Soon the newly named Clifton Coffee House and Craft Shop was a roaring success.
By the early 1970s it was apparent that a 24 seater Coffee House wasn’t enough anymore and so it was demolished and a restaurant built in its place. A food shop was added with a special section dedicated to Scotland’s finest export – whisky. In the 1980s, the family opened the Green Welly Shop, selling wellies, barbour jackets and other outdoor supplies. The name became so well known the whole establishment was eventually renamed the Green Welly Stop.
The Green Welly continues to thrive. You can drop in at just about any time of year and find it crowded, a testament to the family’s wisdom in establishing their business in Tyndrum in the first place. The whisky shop, formerly known as Whisky Galore at the Green Welly Stop has recently been given the snappier title of Tyndrum Whisky but it remains an excellent little shop, packed wall to wall with interesting bottles.
Like many whisky shops, Tyndrum Whisky occasionally releases exclusive bottlings that can’t be picked up anywhere else and I was fortunate enough to be sent samples of some of their most recent. There’s a blended malt and an impressively aged single malt. Each is bottled in partnership with one of Scotland’s leading independent bottlers…
*Full disclosure: the whiskies featured in this article were sent to me free of charge. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the dram and the value for money it represents.
Big Peat Tyndrum Gold (Douglas Laing)
Big Peat is Douglas Laing‘s Islay-inspired blended malt. It’s made by combining whiskies produced at distilleries like Port Ellen, Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig.
This expression is named Tyndrum Gold in honour of Scotland’s only gold mine which is based in the hills on the outskirts of Tyndrum.
Bottled at 48%, it retails at £52.00
Smell: Actually peatier than some of the other versions I’ve had. Earthy & medicinal peat smoke. A touch of iodine and Germolene. Sea breeze and brine. Lemon. Barley flour. Biscuit. Liquorice. Some subtle oak notes.
Taste: Apple. Lemon. Tablet. Sea salt and pepper. Toffee. Smoke starts off subtle but builds in power. Malt. Ash. Charcoal. Charred oak. Chewy caramels. Touch of olive oil. Dry, intense, smoky finish that lingers for days.
Thoughts: The influence of the casks used to mature this spirit are very subtle but that allows the distinct character of the Islay spirit to shine through. Perhaps it isn’t the most complex dram I’ve ever encountered but it makes up for that in boldness. In other words, it does what it says on the tin – Big Peat. In fact, it’s one of the peatier Big Peat’s I’ve had. Often this label strikes me as coastal and briney more than smoky but the peat and smoke seemed more prominent this time. Smoky, coastal, dramatic and intense.
Value for money: A big blast of Islay at a good drinking strength and an affordable price.
Linkwood 1998 23 Year Old Single Malt (Gordon & MacPhail)
Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail under their Connoisseur’s Choice label, this single malt was distilled at Linkwood in 1998 and bottled on 20th December 2021.
It was matured in a refill sherry hogshead and bottled at 53.3%. Retails at £176.
Smell: Straight away there’s a nice balance between sherry and oak. There’s a wood stain note. Rum soaked raisins. Apple. Cinnamon. Orange. Caramel and toffee. Dark chocolate.
Taste: Caramel, toffee and oak arrival. Then comes woody spice. Pepper, cinnamon, ginger. Varnished oak. Dark honey. Toffee apples. Dark chocolate covered raisins. With water there’s a touch of apple, pear and peach with some citrus. Hazelnut.
Thoughts: All the quality you’d expect from Gordon & MacPhail. Maybe more of a sherry influence than you’d expect from a refill. It’s almost an old fashioned style of sherry maturation – this isn’t a whisky that’s done very little in a refill hoggy for 20-odd years before being stuck in a cask with a litre of sherry still sloshing around inside. It feels like proper spirit and cask interaction. Rich without being too rich and feels rather sophisticated. An old and dignified single malt from people who really know what they’re doing.
Value for money: There isn’t an awful lot of older Linkwood knocking around, believe it or not. The closest comparison I could find on Master of Malt and the Whisky Exchange was a 22-year-old from Signatory, priced at £180 or a 21-year-old from La Maison Du Whisky at £175. Based on that evidence, this 23-year-old seems fairly average by current market standards. Is it worth a purchase though? Well, obviously it won’t be for everyone at that price but if you have the money and you like older drams with a sherry influence then this is a drop of good quality.
For more on Tyndrum Whisky visit https://www.tyndrumwhisky.com/
For more on Douglas Laing visit https://www.douglaslaing.com/
For more on Gordon & MacPhail visit https://www.gordonandmacphail.com/