Opening our March account with a 9 year old Glen Spey matured in a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel. It has been a few years since SMWS visited this Rothes based distillery – and despite it being in the heart of a famous whisky producing town, Glen Spey arguably receives the least attention of the four distilleries based in Rothes. Perhaps the single Flora & Fauna 12 year old is the reason that this distillery remains largely under the radar and firmly in the lap of blenders?
Nose: Digestive biscuits, peach cobbler (with a burnt crust) and cashew nuts sit alongside twigs and dried leaves, sunflower oil, steeped tea and a fair amount of alcoholic prickle. The addition of water offers burnt custard and tingly pepper alongside tart tangerines and sappy oak.
Taste: A powerful attack that’s initially sweet and turns increasingly spicy. Baked apples preserved with a drop of lemon juice, burnt biscuit crumbs and shaved chocolate join cask char, pepper and herbal/earthy qualities that sit alongside underlying cereal notes. Dilution presents some soft creaminess with nougat and vanilla cream – but it is a double-edged sword as substantive cask influence delivers potent chilli pepper bite.
Finish: Medium with char, pepper, chilli and residual earthiness.
Youthful Glen Spey possessing a notably vigorous cask influence. Whilst the nose can be tamed with an addition of little water, the palate once reduced unleashes the full force of a fully armed and operational 1st fill cask. And it’s all too much for my palate. Far better at its delivered strength where there’s at least some semblance of balance to the force.
I see Phil has already given this his seal of approval. Isn’t whisky a wonderful thing that tastes can be so divergent? But I’m sticking to my guns here…