Provenance Glen Spey 2012

Provenance: Glen Spey: Single Cask 2012 (Scottish Single Cask Malt Whisky: 11 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Brackish water.

Viscosity: Mix of fast and middling streaks.

Nose: Strong cheap vodka spirit. Fiery. Raw make spirit. Pear drops. Green apples.

Body: Surprisingly smooth. Vanilla toffee and apples. Fire rises. Zest orange, quite sweet into orange crème. Smoothes over time. Water smoothes the fire massively but flavours diminish. More apples come out though.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Pears. Vanilla. Orange sorbet. Shredded wheat. Lime sorbet. Cheap vodka. Water makes less distinctive, adds digestives.

Conclusion: I’ve said it a lot really but…huh. It is a good word/utterance. You could hold an entire conversation with it if you add enough body language to aid.

The first sniff of this was pretty much rocket fuel. It felt half way between cheap vodka and raw make spirit. Now, I will admit I hadn’t given it long to air before drinking, but it was still far rougher than usual. So, I waited, and then took the first feared sip and…

Pretty darn smooth. There is a thick feel like cheap vodka spirit in the middle but the fire is way down. Subtle green fruit and vanilla notes against a lovely sharp orange. So, confused, I held the glass to the light. It still looked the same, brackish greened water, so light that it could be mistaken for very young spirit. Yet here it was, the flavours were similar to younger spirit, but far smoother than the aroma warned. There was that thicker texture, like cheap vodka, and the fire never completely dies down but still much more impressive than expected.

So onto the next step, adding water. It kills the fire, but the flavours become more indistinct with it, making for a whisky that tastes like a mix of biscuits and lime. Not unpleasant actually, not as harsh, but I did prefer the sharp fresh notes you got neat, for all the issues. So a bit of a trade off then. There’s also quite a bit of apples with water, like calvados aged whisky against malted drinks. Again interesting, but not as fresh as when taken neat.

So, a very interesting experiment, very fresh and raw. Even with water you do get good flavour, all green fruit and limes (which yes, I know is a green fruit, but I felt was worth pointing out separately for its prominence), if muted. If you ignore the aroma it is even nicely smooth. With the aroma it is a bit rough, and far from the compete package for a whisky. I would compare it as a rougher Hakushu 12, and it feels younger than its 11 years, but it does have charm in its exhuberance.

I cannot recommend this over the Hakushu, which does everything better, but it is a lively one to visit, for all its raw spirit like issues.

Background: 20cl bottles, a nice compromise between the risk of buying blind 70cl of spirit, and the one off visit of a 5cl mini. This independent bottling was found at The Tasting Rooms in Bath. I’ve never tried Glen Spey, nor any bottling from Provenance before, so it seemed a god time to give them a shot. Looking online, this seems to be one of their seasonal set of releases, this being a spring release. This is single cask and unchillfiltered. Broke out a bit of Nine Inch Nails as a backdrop to this tasting.