SMWS 39.172 Starry starry night

Posted 03 January 2019 by Matt / In Linkwood
The Dramble reviews SMWS 39.172 Starry starry night

Bottle Name: 39.172 Starry starry night

ABV: 48.2%
Distillery: Linkwood
Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Flavour Profile: Old & dignified
Region: Speyside Age: 28

Well-aged Linkwood that’s been matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead for 26 years and then finished in a toasted second fill hogshead before bottling. Old & Dignified profile.

Nose: Very forest-like with pine needles, bracken, broken twigs and old 70’s herbal liqueurs. Likewise, quite floral with cut grass, potpourri and lemonbalm. Pleasant enough, but not offering the level of luxury and gravitas I’d expect and hope for from a 28 year old whisky. Resting proves fruitful though, unlocking deeper aromas of chocolate, toffee, wood lacquer and curry leaf. The addition of water felt ill advised – notes of yeast bread and pond water mixed with mouldy fruits, decomposition and engine grease. A strange start.

Taste: Ultra-herbal with sage and tarragon joined by garam masala paste, wood panelling, sandalwood and week-old vinegary stale wine. Vanilla and tonka bean alongside porridge provide some ex-bourbon stability to things. Resting again helps steady the ship – blackberries, yeasty bread, steeped tea and wet soiled dunnage floors. Whilst the nose was ill-effected, the palate seems to adore water – removing many of the hodgepodged flavours out the equation to leave something altogether superior with notes of mango, guava, rosewater and bright lemon peels.

Finish: Long with fading pepper – both black and bell.

Whilst described in the outturn as “majestic”, I’m finding this Linkwood just plain bizarre. There’s certainly plenty going, but rather than aged-opulence many of the aromas and flavours here just feel musty, decayed and well past their best. Resting seems near essential and certainly offers improvement, but water proves totally divisive, enlivening the palate, but taking the nose to a very strange fetid place. Society ‘Vaults collection’ bottlings are priced according to their age and desirability – don’t think that the black labels and gold lettering are any sure-fire guarantee of quality by themselves – this Linkwood is heading towards (to the point where I wonder whether my sample was from a tainted bottle) being flawed.

Score: 69/100

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