Adelphi: The Glover: 14 Year (Scottish and Japanese Blended Malt Whisky: 14 Year: 44.3% ABV)
Visual: Yellowed deep gold.
Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.
Nose: Smoke. Dried apricots and almonds. Thick. Vanilla. Apples. Water brings out pears and cinnamon.
Body: Very smooth texture, but noticeable alcohol. Malt chocolate, smoke and charring. Apricot slices. Dried beef slices. Intense peach syrup sweetness and stewed fruit. Coal dust. Water adds apples and cinnamon, beef broth and a steam beer texture. Tropical fruit. Treacle. More water adds vanilla toffee.
Finish: Smoke and ash. Malt chocolate. Steam beer air. Cinnamon. Toffee and stewed fruit. Water adds treacle, still an alcohol air. More water adds beef broth and vanilla toffee.
Conclusion: This is a very odd one to do notes on, as I had to return a few times more than usual. The experience when I first tried on the bottle opening, when I tried when doing notes, and when I tried post doing notes but before putting up the notes, all were different experiences. So I drank a bit more and did a few more sets of notes, and this is the final conclusion.
This is a very thick whisky – Now it does have a bit higher abv than usual, but from the mouthfeel I would have guessed that this was a cask strength. Thankfully, while it does have a noticeable alcohol character, it isn’t near the usual cask strength fire and what it does have is easily muted by water.
It punches with smoke from the aroma onwards, but not in what would be the more expected peaty, meaty way of whiskeys such as Ardbeg. This has drier smoke with a coal dust style character that is simultaneously lower intensity but despite that harsher in the impact due to the dryness. This is one of the elements that seemed to vary a lot however, there is always some element of the character but it seemed very variable depending on circumstances.
That is not the most notable characteristic though – the unusual character that really comes out is as the originally smooth mouthfeel expands out into a strange, almost steam beer styled, slightly gas cooker styled, feel. It reminds me of an old whisky I had tried that had been direct heated rather that indirect heated at distillation. I am unsure if that is what caused the characteristic here – I know some Japanese distilleries go very old school and traditional on making their whisky. Any which way it gives a very distinct character.
Initially the whisky was dominated by full and harsh coal notes, water lets it soften to green fruit and apricot slices that come out backed treacle sweetness. The whisky it is still led by that gas cooked air and can be harsh coal backed, though these element seemed to come and go in the varied tastings. The sweetness matches the intensity of the harshness when it is there, but does not reduce the impact. When the harshness is not present you instead get a huge stewed fruit sweetness pushing forth in its place.
When it still has those harsh notes it feels slightly too all intense, all the time for me. The thing people oft forget about Laphroaig and Ardbeg is that for all their intensity, they have sweetness contrast or moments of release. Thankfully in the majority of my samples the harsh notes gave way to that stewed fruit, still intense but providing that touch of contrast.
Now that is not to say that there is not a lot else going on, as you can see from the notes there are cinnamon and apples mix – pear notes that remind me of Hakushu whisky, though it is not unique to that distillery. It is well made and smooth, especially with water, and remains smooth even with the harsh flavours when they are present, but it doesn’t always mesh.
I admire its mix of odd and even possible nigh unique characteristics, when it works it is good – the mix of smoke, steam beer character and stewed fruit is a journey. It possibly doesn’t need to be as thick as it is all the time, it can get wearing – especially when the harsher notes are there. As a whisky it is a tad unreliable, hence needing multiple returns, but when it is on it is very distinct and pretty good.
Background: 1,500 notes, and I have been holding this one since the beginning of the year for the special occasion – grabbed from The Tasting Rooms on recommendation, this is a blend of Japanese and Scottish Malt whisky and one of 1,500 bottles. Well, 1,500 bottles this release. I’m sure they will do another release. As a fan of both countries’ whisky this sounded fascinating. So, for music, did I go for J-pop, anime soundtracks, taiko drumming to reflect Japan? Bagpipes, Scottish Punk, or such for Scotland? No, I went for “Heck”, because it reminds me of their absolutely mental live gigs which are basically riots with music. Hey, my blog, my choice. Been a fun 1,500 notes and here is looking forwards to 1,500 more – thanks for reading, commenting, and, until next time – enjoy your drink!