Glenburgie, 29yo 1985 Cadenhead’s Single Cask
(Distilled 1985, bottled 2014, bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles, 55.3%)
Not a lot of Glenburgie around (even less unsherried), and only on Cadenhead bottles will you still find the old-school “-Glenlivet” appellation…
Nose: Very typical fruity Speyside at first: banana, pineapple and ripe apples. Then more complex, darkly floral sweetness: orange zest with brown sugar, dried petals and nasturtiums, some light honey. A bit of strawberry jam after a while in the glass.
Taste: Big sugary muscovado sweetness, then an enormous wave of dried tangerine peel (wow!). This could be a warning sign of drying oak to come, but no, it’s super-lush. When it subsides you’re left with Turkish Delight and quince jellies covered with cinnamon and icing sugar.
Finish: This whisky has a surprisingly light and delicate mouthfeel – it really seems to just evaporate off the tongue. Some dark chocolate orange and posh mahogany woodiness linger.
Glenburgie is, I suppose, a middling sort of distillery; mostly making fodder for blends and not rocking too many boats. But well-aged in a decent cask it can, it seems, be spectacular. What’s so impressive is the combination of sheer heft and lightness of touch. It ends on such a fresh and lively note that you just want to go straight back for the next sip.
Close to flawless, even if – like me – you think Chocolate Oranges are proper grim!