I’ve never had a Convalmore. That’s actually what brought me to Allen’s, a gastropub in Toronto, for my much belated birthday. Belated birthdays are what we do in my family.
I saw a review by /u/smokedherring, and I was interested in this. I wondered to myself if I enjoyed Convalmore. And I drew a blank. That’s fine, I’m not the kind of person who tries to set expectations on distilleries. I try not to, of course. Not to mention that Convalmore has been closed since 1990, being bought out by William Grant & Sons. I know you’re about to say “Wait, what? Convalmore comes out from Diageo as special releases! You’re wrong!”
You’d be correct. William Grant & Sons only bought the buildings, took out the equipment, and used them as storage for Glenfiddich and Balvenie. The remaining stores are owned by Diageo, who bought them way back when they were Distillers Company Limited. Granted it was 1925.
Convalmore was meant to be used in blending. However, we’ve seen others meant for blending be great as well. Looking at your Port Ellen.
So back to my bias. Do I have one? Turns out, upon some reflection, I don’t. Because I’ve never had a Convalmore. Thus Convalmore 23 1976 SIlent Stills will be my first.
How did it turn out then? Let’s see, shall we?
Cask Number: 4470
No. of bottles: 314
Colour: 5Y 8/8
Nose: Chocolate cherries, grassy, dark molasses, mint, grapefruit
Big nose, right off the bat. People can smell it from across the table. Huge sweet notes with rich undertones. Undertones? Is that what I mean? It’s rich in flavour? On smelling it? I don’t know.
It smells rich? Maybe that’s it. There’s richness.
Just the right amount of acidity to cut through. Water brings out more grassiness and mint.
Taste: Heather, cherry, oak, bitter melon, Caramilk
Starts out floral/smoky, then goes back to that vegetal, oak, and bitter mixture. Makes me want more, over and over. Really nicely balanced. Water brings more sweets and some more of the richness.
Finish: Grapefruit, heather, Oreo, marshmallow, mineral, hazelnut
Acidic, nicely smoky, and almost like Octomore with the chocolate notes and the minerality, though of course without the extreme smoke. It’s odd to taste something similar to such a strong peated whisky without any of the main peat elements.
Conclusion: The nose is big, the taste has wonderful balance, and the finish is like dessert. Not going to blow your mind, but certainly is quite tasty.
You’re going to get pulled in by the nose, that’s for certain. The taste may be a bit too bitter for some, or a tad out there for some.
The finish is dessert.
All in all, I can see why some are stating Convalmore is the next Port Ellen, though I feel the aforementioned was a lot more legendary. That said, I’ve had all of one so far, I don’t even know if this is the best or worst, and I’m a peat head, so of course I found the peated whisky better.
More whiskies required. When’s my next birthday?
Scotch review #1103, Speyside review #314, Whisky review #1708