Imperial 1996 25 year old
Posted 02 November 2021 by Matt / In Imperial
Bottle Name: Imperial 1996
Bottler: Watt Whisky
There was a time when despite being a shuttered distillery, that Imperial was largely ignored by the bulk of whisky enthusiasts, and bottles could be picked up relatively easily. However, as stocks of the distillery have dwindled and the price of naturally weighty distillates has risen across the board, Imperial’s desirability has finally been recognised - and consequently the days of it flying under the radar are now long past. In particular, whisky lovers have recognised that similarly to another famously textured distillate, that parcels of Imperial casks from the mid-90s that have been left to age for a decent amount of time are habitually excellent.
And that’s precisely what we’ve got from Watt Whisky today. This 1996 25 year old Imperial has been matured in a refill ex-bourbon barrel that produced 214 bottles. It has been bottled at 53.6% ABV and with an RRP of £225. As best as I can tell this has sold out on impact everywhere it has been put on sale. And rightly so….standby for a big score.
Nose: Polished teak, sea chests and aged tobacco sit alongside walnut and lamp oils, whilst anise and liquorice are livened by zesty citrus, cooking apples and a delightful flintiness/steeliness from graphite and copper coins. The addition of water presents a more overt fruity element with cantaloupe melon and lemon posset together with underlying earthiness. Highly appealing stuff.
Taste: Double thumbs. Arriving with paraffin and a Clynelish-eque waxiness offset against Imperial’s natural mineral quality. Lemon oils and peels join crumbled limestone whilst ancient felled waterlogged trees sit alongside mahogany polished to a mirror sheen. Fresh French baguette sits with sliced green apples whilst fusty tobacco joins coffee beans. Later – mentholated oak and camphor. Deeply complex. Reduction reveals additional waxes and greases together with clementines and brass polish.
Finish: Long with chopped walnuts, ginger spice, a touch of mineral salinity and a pot of freshly brewed coffee.
I have no qualms at all giving this Imperial my highest score of any Watt Whisky to date. The bottler has clearly made an educated investment into this cask – on the one hand knowing that Imperial’s light is presently shining brightly, and on the other, knowing that this is quite simply an outstanding cask selection. The result is as delicious as it is textured, layered, expansive and at times, frankly intellectual. Excellent.
Review sample provided by Watt Whisky
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