Girvan: Proof Strength (Scottish Single Grain Whisky: No Age Statement: 57.1% ABV)
Visual: Brackish gold.
Viscosity: Thick fast streaks.
Nose: Honeysuckle. Heather. Thick. Oak. Water gives more honey, some coffee bean notes and almonds.
Body: Treacle. Slight alcohol burn. Vanilla. Orange sorbet. Water makes smoother – adds more treacle and some coffee liqueur. More water brings similar to 4 Apps.
Finish: Tongue numbing initially. Toffee. Oak. Malt chocolate and caramel. Water adds more toffee and milky coffee comes out.
Conclusion: Such a difference a bit of abv strength can make, here the whisky that was fresh and bright at standard bottling becomes really thick with treacle and caramel notes – there does still seem to be some fruit notes, especially with water – but it is far from the light drink No 4 is.
Even more unusually the first few additions of water doesn’t really return the lighter and higher notes, instead bringing unexpected coffee liqueur out along with becoming more creamy, then finally with enough water – smooth. That last one is thankful – neat it has such burn I could barely realise the finish.
Neat it really doesn’t get my love, it is impressive forceful but as a more punchy whisky it seems to lose the advantage of single grain, instead feeling like a slightly sub par single malt style.
Water helps bridge the gap – gaining back the smoother character – while still keeping those heavier coffee notes. Until I added an absolute mass of water those expected apple and pear fruit notes never came out, and by that point it was basically app 4, but had with a bit less water it is an interesting coffee whisky experience.
I would say I prefer 4 apps, as this is at its best when you have added enough water to make it basically 4 apps. That was a well balanced package. This while interesting seems less as a whisky, and loses a lot of grain’s advantages.
Probably the weakest of the set I tried, the extra abv doesn’t seem to add a lot to the experience.
Background: A ramped up version of 4 Apps. If I remember rightly, this is the same whisky just not watered down to 42% abv. This is also the only whisky that isn’t in the box of samples sent to me, so I am going by my notes from the night of the tastings. As hinted in the last statement, I was invited to a tasting and tour which was paid for by Girvan, so full disclosure of possible biases. In the image, this is the third glass on the top row.