Whilst the Coleburn Distillery in Elgin was closed in 1985 the site is not as silent as some forgotten distilleries. Independent bottler Murray McDavid have turned the distillery into their HQ and still use the Victorian dunnage warehouses to mature their growing stock of malt whisky. According to their website there is currently over ninety single cask and single grain whiskies slumbering up at Coleburn. Today, we're in effect looking at several of them at the same time - as its time for a blend review in the form of the Bodach Aislig 35 year old.
Bodach Aislig is a very mature blend drawing from distilleries based in five of the Scottish whisky regions: Glenrothes, Glengoyne, Bunnahabhain and Tamdhu provide the malts and Cameronbridge, North British and Port Dundas provide the grains. The label indicates that the whisky has been aged in bourbon barrels and then finished (for an unspecified period) in sherry casks.
Nose: The age of the whisky comes through immediately with notes of old sherry, leather, polish, tobacco (totally what you'd expect at this age). The supporting act consists of mangoes and very ripe bananas, along with marzipan and dusty, almost dirty spices. Austere and old smelling.
Taste: Rich and full mouthfeel. Drying, bitter and oaky. Floor polish heavily present. Doughy, almost playdoh'y with noticeable barrel char notes, and deep intense flavours from the sherry like raisins and dark chocolate.
Finish: Drying still, but mellowed from the initial attack. Very long with spicing adding a touch of salt to the proceedings.
Delightful. This is very successful and I'll posit a reason why - all the constituent ingredients suit both sherry flavours and also longer maturation periods. The sum of the parts comes together in an excellent older blend which remains both serious and yet accessible. Two caveats: Firstly, you’ll need to really like heavy oak and all that it brings (drying mouthfeel + astringency). Secondly, as with all things old, this needs to rest – give it 20+ minutes before getting stuck in and I assure you that your patience will be rewarded.