Boutique-y Advent 2021 – Door 1

Posted 02 December 2021 by Matt / In Glen Elgin
The Dramble reviews Boutique-y Glen Elgin 12 year old Batch 5

Bottle Name: Glen Elgin Batch 5

ABV: 49.1%
Distillery: Glen Elgin
Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company
Region: Speyside Age: 12
Glass Weight: 500g

And we’re off. For the next 24 days we’ll be presenting you with quick fire reviews of each and every dram contained in the 2021 Boutique-y Whisky Company Advent Calendar (which was kindly provided by Atom Brands for full transparency). We’ll be posting a day in arrears - to give us time to sample and write our notes, and of course, to not spoil the surprise for those of you who open your doors a little later in the day.

As is usual for this marathon of tasting notes, we’ll be working in tandem. And so for alternative views on the 2021 selection, once you’re done here, do head over to visit Sorren at OCD Whisky and Brian at Brian's Malt Musings.

Behind Door 1 is Glen Elgin 12 year old Batch 5. Presumably from a humble ex-bourbon cask, bottled at 49.1% ABV and from an outturn of 1830 bottles. You’ll find this available via The Whisky Exchange for the appealing price of £36.45.

Glen Elgin is an often overlooked and, in my view, highly underappreciated Speyside distillery. Barring a few inclusions within the Diageo Special Release series (in 2003 and 2017) and the odd special release such as a Manager's Dram, most the of the OBs hailing from the distillery take the form of the 12 year old Speyside Single Pot Still Malt – which in itself an unsung bottling.

Alongside Linkwood, Glenlossie and Mannochmore, production from Elgin is mainly focussed around fulfilling the global needs of the popular White Horse blend which was first produced way back in 1861. But, once you start to dig into the distillate produced just south of the town of the same name – the production methods employed by Glen Elgin and the resulting spirit quality both mark it out as undervalued and also in my opinion criminally underused.

Still traditionally focussed, production at Glen Elgin features 80-120 hour fermentation, slow distillation in relatively small wash (4) and spirit (3) stills (which remove nearly all sulphurous compounds) and worm tub condensing. As such, it stands in stark contrast to a number of Diageo distilleries who have abandoned complicated, time-consuming processes to the bonfire of higher yields. And the results of these labours become abundantly clear within the spirit profile produced – a bright, opulent fruitiness – which when paired with a humble ex-bourbon cask becomes elevated into a riot of expressive esters that often marry perfectly with a core of cask induced creamy toffee. Lovely stuff.

So, let’s see how this Boutique-y edition stacks up…

Nose: Ginger-spiced bananas and poached pears are slathered in dark toffee and manuka honey whilst a touch of preserved lemon is given a sweet-kick from crumbled biscuit. In the background white chocolate for additional sweetness. Dilution offers dried pineapple chunks alongside a ‘green’ vinous quality of underripe barley and hothouse flowers together with somewhat citric oakiness.

Taste: Tart cooking apples, gooseberries and cinnamon-spiced Comice pears sit with baked custard tarts, both honey and toffee and golden barley perked up with an ample twist of cask-led pepper. The addition of water presents additional fruity treats with white grapes, lychee and a tang of tangerine.

Finish: Medium with a cup of creamy mocha and peppery oak.

Whilst I usually prefer my Elgin with a strong vein of unctuous toffee running throughout – Batch 5 from That Boutique-y Whisky Company instead tends towards the underlying defined fruitiness of the distillate. And that’s absolutely no problems with me. Very enjoyable – and at the asking price - proof prefect that there’s good whisky out there no matter your budget.

Score: 86/100


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