Tag Archive: 32 Year

Convalmore: 1984: Special Release 2017 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 32 Years: 48.2% ABV)

Visual: Pale apple juice to gold colour. A few initial streaks come from the spirit followed by very slow puckering.

Nose: Vanilla. Soft praline. Apples. Soft white grape juice touch. Water adds a sulphur and burnt matches style. More water gives orange zest and pear drops. Madeira. Cinnamon spiced apples.

Body: Initially numbing. Oak. Grassy. Dry. Peppery. More water adds Madeira and watered down spiced rum. Spiced red grapes. Cinnamon apples. Gunpowder tea. Caramel. Cinder toffee. Very mild molasses touch.

Finish: Charring. Roasted chestnuts. Water adds sugared almonds, nut bars and a salty touch. More water makes spicier. Dry red wine. Chocolate cake. Gunpowder tea. Cinder toffee. Creamy.

Conclusion: This is very smooth, and in general a robust one, with a lot heavier nut character that I expected from a Speyside whisky. It is also an example that, even in an over 30 years old whisky, water still does the job!

While water is needed later on, the aroma always had what it takes. Smooth as silk, showing green fruit mixed with vanilla sweetness. It was pretty much exactly what I would expect of the region and the age, if not more than that.

Thus I was surprised when I took a sip and found out how dry and, while not harsh, kind of numbing the main body was. The flavour was very nutty with lots of oak influence making it woody, with little else in play. It felt like such a let down from the nose.

Similarly the finish was nutty, slightly rough, and unexpectedly slightly salty. The state of the body and finish felt like an utter let down for something this old, expensive and with a decent nose.

So, anyway, I added water and…

It was better, still simple and nutty, but now a bit spicier. However the backing seemed to become more harsh – the additional green fruit notes made it better but it was hard to appreciate it against the harsher notes.

So, heck, I may have only 3cl of these, but you only live once. So I added more water, risking flooding it, aaaand.

This is now soooo goooood. No, seriously. Like it is such a change, and such a jump in quality I found it hard to believe it. Wine like and spiced rum notes come out along with spiced fruit, toffee and many spirits. More green fruit. A creamier feel. It doesn’t feel like the same whisky at all.

It has still got a few of those salty, heavier charring and gunpowder tea notes at the back, along with a fair set of tannins, but now they seem balanced as there is so much more available to contrast that. Now it is rich, with lots of dessert like notes, Speyside fresh fruitiness, smooth with lots to examine and so easy to drink despite the harsh underline.

This needs water so much, but get it right and it is great. Still just a touch over harsh, but only minorly so, and apart from that it is great.

Just avoid it neat.

Background: Convalmore is another dead distillery, and therefore one of the few distilleries in Scotland I had yet to try. It seems to be a long lived one, closing finally in 1985, with, oddly, no official bottlings at the time – all the stock went into blends. This is one of the few official bottling that have come out since and one that there was no way I could afford a full bottle of. So, I recently had the chance to treat myself and took advantage of the fact that The Whisky Exchange was selling 3cl samples. It makes it very expensive per cl, but hey, it is pretty much the only way I was going to get to try something from the distillery. A quick google says this won Jim Murray’s best single scotch whisky 28-34 years. For what that is worth. Went with Prodigy: No Tourists for background music. May not seem like a match for this whisky but, screw it, I only just found out it existed and wanted more Prodigy. That is the whole reason.


Balblair 1975

Balblair 1975 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 32 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light grain.

Viscosity: Very slow to form streaks, slow moving and thin.

Nose: Heather, potpourri and oak. Lime sorbet. Vanilla fudge. Light walnut cake. Water adds dry liquorice. Rum raisins.

Body: Vanilla toffee and lime. Some alcohol presence. Walnuts. Light chocolate. Cherries in sherry. Water makes liquore like and hides alcohol. Rum and raisin ice cream.

Finish: Walnut. Tangy lime. Dry. Coffee cake. Jelly. Raisins. Light spice. Water adds toffee liquore and cream. Rum and raisins.

Conclusion: There is a thing about the more elderly whisky in that it always seems to take a while to find the full charm of them. The first few sips tend to be smooth but don’t hint at the full range of flavour.

So it is true here, initially there is toffee and light walnut cake with a Yorkshire field aroma and sweet lime notes. Now that is not unimpressive but there is so much more there, and you have to give it time to coax it out of its shell.

It is a slow progression, and one that is aided by just a few drops of water. You get rum and raisins which is probably the defining element, subtle at first but it grows to mouth filling richness and is backed by delicate spice. It is soothing, sweet , warming and fulfilling.

The weakest element is probably the aroma, it never really catches the range of what is beneath it. Instead you find it oscillating between light floral notes and a liquorice touch. Despite that one flaw it is an incredible whisky, with great progression from light sweetness early on into complex dark fruit and spice that really catches the attention.

The flavour matches the texture well, smooth, well smooth after an early alcohol presence. It gives an ice cream like element to the rum and raisin, creamy and with water it’s a classy and smooth delivery system for the flavours.

Very much worth having if you can.

Background: You don’t often see whisky this old in miniatures. But since I did I grabbed it. I’ve tried a few Balblair’s now, found them light and fruity, but never got around to doing notes on one. Balblair eschew the usual route of doing x years labeled bottles, and instead do year based vintages. It’s an interesting approach and nigh guarantees that there will be a new expression on the shelves regularly so probably does well for keeping them in peoples attention. I do like the little stubby bottle style, especially scaled down to miniature size. You may have noticed this is my first note for a while, I actually finally cleared my backlog. First time since Japan despite coming close several times. Now I need a pint.

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