8 November 2011

North British 20 Year Old "The Glory of the Grain"

Just like the final unpredictable spin on the reels of a fruit/slot machine, the dramming combination of an independent bottling, a grain whisky and two decades of ageing can often leave you feeling short changed. Though on some occasions it can make you feel as if you’ve hit the jackpot, or as in this particular instance the repeat jackpot.

Now before I go any further I need to reassure you that the following review is for the Master of Malt North British 1991 20 year old single cask grain whisky bottling.

Why the need for reassurement you may ask, well allow me to explain. If there was ever a whisky to draw you in with a false sense of dramming identity, this would be it.

After an initial nosing even the most seasoned whisky enthusiast could be fooled and lured into thinking that what they were about to enjoy was a drop of ‘Liquid Americana’. Well fool no more, this is neither a rye nor a bourbon, it’s a gargantuanly glorious, gutsy grain of a whisky.

The nosing action kicks off with wondrous and wanton waves of wheated bourbon, garish glugs of spiced maple syrup and a nasal serenade of sassily sumptuous homemade strawberry tarts.

Butter slathered slices of Jamaican spiced bun and a percolating pot of coffee make for the next set of delights, along with an oak and clove infused navel orange and an appearance of something finessefully fennelish.

Warm peppered butterscotch and the alluring aroma of wood spice then sneak their way into the proceedings, followed fairly sharply by something subtly demerara rum-esque.

The palate kicks off with a ballsy burst of bourbon that exudes a fresh almost mentholish, sugary syrup edge. Heck pour it into a frosted pewter cup, add some crushed ice and hey presto, your very own Mint Julep cocktail.

A big warm wedge of cherry pie covered in vanilla custard makes for the next set of protruding palatable pleasures, followed by an infusion of crystallised stem ginger, damp grassy grains and toasted oak.

That Jamaican spiced bun makes a moreishly malty reappearance on the palate, along with another glug of that maple syrup that this time round has a rather soothing and comforting honey cognac-esque rounded edge to it.

Just like the conclusion to a fine meal, the dramanagins are brought to a close with an espresso coffee and a rather decedent after dinner chocolate. Which in this particular instance has a wonderful bitter twang, that then evolves into a fabulously oaked syrupy sweet sensation that leads and lingers throughout its sizable satisfying finish.

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