Imperial, 19yo 1995 Signatory UCF
(Distilled 21/8/95, bottled 3/2/15, hogsheads # 50175 & 50176, 197 bottles, 46%)
Nose: Earthy, nutty and sweet. Some sharp acidic fruitness: apples, raspberries and white wine. Even hints of wine vinegar, balanced though by some sweet vanilla. A wisp of smoke in the background I think…
Taste: Vanilla, lemons, liquorice and sweet ginger. Quite tart and just great. There’s also a really unusual burnt vegetal quality to it – maybe it’s the combination of Speyside grassiness with a bit of smoke, but it really brings to mind the charred agave you get in good tequila or mezcal.
Finish: Long and dry-ish. Some faint smoke and waxiness that bring to mind the Highlands. Lemons and walnuts and ginger and earth.
Ah, I love Imperial. Like a lot of loves though it is a doomed affair, destined to end in heartbreak… and I’m not just being cynical (as I am, I admit, wont to do) because it’s a fact that Imperial no longer exists. The distillery has been demolished and each dram drunk means there is less in the world. I can only recommend you pick some up while it’s still widely available (these Signatory bottlings remain good value, but there are many more) and enjoy it while you can: a fantastic, idiosyncratic Speysider that we’ll not see the likes of again.