I recently aquired a bottle of Mac Donald’s Glencoe at auction.
It intrigued me that it was, supposedly, bottled in the 80’s and bottled at a whopping 57% vol. Given that it is a Blended Malt (or Vatted Malt if you prefer) that is quite unusual. Knowing that a big proportion of this juice consists of Ben Nevis I had to get it and experience a taste from the past. Alongside I have a rare bottle by Whisky Galore and the revamped (such an ugly word) 10 year old distillery version.
That should give us some perspective.
Ben Nevis 8, Whisky Galore, 46% vol. 1996-2005
S:6 G:3 P:2 / Color: white wine / Score: 82
Starts sweet with many ripe fruits. The basket offers: Melons, peaches, bananas, pears and apricots. Also some menthol freshness which might just be the young spirit. Then building materials 😉 Chalk, gravel and some wet concrete. See what I mean? Tasting notes are fun. Eucalyptus, some bouillon in the background and after ten minutes F**** Mango. Tastes sweet with just a little oak. Mind you it wasn’t in the cask very long. This bottle should be called fruits galore. Melon, mango (could be my brain now) and peaches. Something metallic that seems to belong there… Tin!!! It’s tinned fruit salad. Lovely. Over all not very complex but quite fun. This is why we love our independent bottlers so much, they give us a different angle on the things we enjoy. Furthermore I respect the fact that they state the young age. Bravo
Ben Nevis 10, Original Bottling, 46% vol., 2016
S:3 G:3 P:2 / Color: light gold / Score: 84
Less sweet on the nose with eucalyptus and menthol again. Cold fruit pie made from peaches, apricots and blood oranges. Can you smell the crust? A grassy element like dried hay. And…oh…cinnamon! Nice. On the palate it’s drier but with a sweet backbone. Good mouthfeel, full and well balanced. Fruit compote with spices: Cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. The oak hardly feels at all, it’s there but just supports the overall concept. Well it does taste different than the old version but it is still great value for the price. The dunnage aftertaste is still present, good. I salute original bottlings at 46% it’s so much more expressive. The new design is well in line with the old one and I do like that they didn’t overdo it: Ben Nevis you have my loyal support.
MacDonald’s Glencoe, Blenden Malt, 57% vol., 80’s
S:6 G:3 P:3 / Color: gold / Score: 89
Noses light at first and totally on ripe honey dew melons. Then follow menthol and eucalyptus (there is a consistency here). Even at 57% it doesn’t feel much stronger than the others. Some wet gravel on a train track where a mechanic is repairing the breaks with an old tool box. Sound good? I’m serious! Tastes sweet and syrupy. It’s totally harmless ant full strength. Weird. Some oak for good measure. Menthol? Yes. Eucalyptus? Check. I love when the consistency gets almost chewy and it’s happening here. Melon sirup with tinned limes. Fun, fun, fun…