Exclusive Malts 2015 Releases

I got a batch of samples from Exclusive Malts’ new 2015 releases. Rather than stringing these out into 6 blog posts that only about 0.05% of my readers will care about and thus deprive the other 99.95% of you of your weekly doses of my charming self, I figured I’d just get these all out of the way for anyone interested. These bottlings tend to go quickly and aren’t widely distributed to begin with, so if you’re interested in any of these… well, it may already be too late. Oops.

Thanks to ImpEx for the samples!

The lineup!
Cambus (Grain) 1988 26 year 48.1% ABV [closed distillery] $180
Deanston 1997 17 year 52.3% ABV, $140
Allt-A-Bhainne 1993 22 year 50.7% ABV $160
Glen Garioch 1995 19 year 56.3% ABV $150 (Rum cask)
Glen Keith 1996 19 year 50.1% ABV $155
Ben Nevis 1996 17 year 51.2% ABV $140

Cambus (Grain) 1988 26 year 48.1% ABV [closed distillery] $180

Nose: Light and airy, with fragile butterscotch and dulce de leche aromas. Dried coconut flakes.
Palate: Full body. Sweet and robust, with a double-dose of toffee, some nutty nougat, and faint vegetal (anise?) notes. Not at all hot, despite the higher ABV.
Finish: Medium-long. Very nutty, with dried blackcurrants, cashew butter, and a ghost of coconut butter on the fade-out.
Overall: Excellent! Not exactly innovative in presentation, but this Cambus has soaked up the oak while staying tight and fresh for 26 years. Still, $180 is a lot for a single grain, even from a closed distillery.
Rating: Recommended if you can afford it and really like old single grains.

Deanston 1997 17 year 52.3% ABV, $140

Nose: Lemon, fresh hay, pear. Quite hot on the nose. Green banana. Tart.
Palate: Thin. Very hot! Peanuts, or peanut butter cascades over the tongue, reminding me of spicy Thai peanut sauce. After the burn subsides, chewy nougat, lemon peel,
Finish: Short. Mostly a reprise of the nutty flavors, with a bit of oaky tannin (not much), tree bark, and a fading bitterness verging on metallic. Eugh.
Overall: Not my cup of tea. The note is uninteresting and the finish is downright off, although the explosion of peanut notes on the palate almost make up for it…. just not at a $140 price point.
Rating: Not Recommended.

Allt-A-Bhainne 1993 22 year 50.7% ABV $160

“Refill Hogshead”
Nose: Tart citrus – almost lime – and a faint airy peat note which is not smoky, but rather like dry crumbling fallen leaves.
Palate: Silky body. Buttercream frosting. Slightly hot. More lime – key lime pie.
Finish: Short. More dry peaty heather, and a little fading bitterness.
Overall: Pleasant, in a way, but so light as to be forgettable, and with a despondent self-deprecating finish. I did like the key lime notes, though, which I’ve never encountered in a whisky before.
Rating: Not Recommended.

Glen Garioch 1995 19 year 56.3% ABV $150

Guyana Rum cask
Nose: Fresh-cut sugar cane, molasses, cooked plantains with brown sugar. A hint of tobacco.
Palate: Thin. Not too hot considering the high ABV. Bananas, molasses, cola, and chewing tobacco.
Finish: Medium-short in length. Oaky resin, burnt caramel, barrel char.
Overall: Just OK. Probably an experiment gone wrong that was then sold off to the highest bidder. The rum notes are interesting, but actual rum tastes better. It seems like this cask picked up the least-appealing characteristics of the rum (weird tobacco/vegetal notes, burned sugar, charcoal), without getting any good oaky notes that one would expect in a 19 year-old single malt. Watering it down around 45% improves the nose slightly (more banana), the palate somewhat (less burn, more malt), and the finish somewhat (less charcoal). Still, not a $150 whisky.
Rating: Not Recommended unless you’re dying to see what Glen Garioch does in a mediocre rum cask.

Glen Keith 1996 19 year 50.1% ABV $155

“Refill Hogshead”
Nose: Anise (licorice), black peppercorn, Filé powder (ground sassafras), and after a rest in the glass, a whopping dose of banana.
Palate: Silky body. Blackberry bramble. Toasted oats, brown sugar.
Finish: Of medium length. More unlikely blackberry, fading with generic malt notes.
Overall: A quandary. Fascinating blackberry notes on the palate and finish, but an eccentric aroma filled with unlikely spice notes. I can’t say I like this whisky, and I can’t say I’d buy this whisky for $155 (!!), but I would certainly sit and ponder a glass of this for a good long while.
Rating: Uhh. Try Before You Buy? (Good luck). Certainly interesting.

Ben Nevis 1996 17 year 51.2% ABV $140

“Refill ex-sherry butt”
Nose: Heady perfume: blueberry jam, assorted florals, a very pleasant and inviting aroma.
Palate: Thin body. Rather hot for 51% ABV. Red grape skins, tart red currants, blueberry pie filling, with a crust of sweet malty cereal goodness.
Finish: Red wine tannins (very slightly drying), raisins.
Overall: A jolly, good-natured dram with an excellent balance of sweet to tart to malty, with no component overwhelming the others, and a fantastic perfumed aroma. If this were $70 I’d snap it up. Such are the times we live in.
Rating: Recommended if you can stomach $140 for a decent mildly sherried dram.

Summary:

If you’re itching to drop $140 – $180 on a bottle from Exclusive Malts’ new lineup, get the Cambus or the Ben Nevis.

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