Thanks to /u/Bradbobaggin for the dram.
The Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection is frustrating. Hold your internet rage for a second.
Signatory is an independent bottler of some size. It owns Edradour, it has some good people picking whisky, and they have been the source of some of the nicer whiskies I’ve had. That’s all well and good. If this was a whisky in their Cask Strength line we wouldn’t be starting a whisky review like this. Probably would be funnier. Imagine various sexual innuendos if you’re having trouble getting through the preamble before the recipe.
But the Un-Chillfiltered Collection (to be called UCF from here on out) is not the Cask Strength collection. From what I understand of the company right now, you have three choices: The 86 Proof Collection, the UCF, and the Cask Strength Collection. There’s also the odd store selection that breaks the rules.
The 86 proof collection doesn’t come across my doorstep, so I can’t say anything. But the UCF seems like something I’d be into: Less filtering, better mouthfeel, great. But always at 46%, unless they are UCF – Cask Strength, at which point it’s just a white tube and a normal shaped bottle storing some of the Cask Strength Collection’s whisky.
Alcohol percentage isn’t everything, however typically it does impact the flavour. Think of it this way: If I sold you the entire loaf of bread, untouched, then you could do what you want with the bread. You may not enjoy the crust, but it’s up to you to figure out what to do with it. If I take all the crust off the bread, that may be a way you enjoy it, but you didn’t have a chance to use the crust or try the crust before I skinned the bread.
That was insane. Just go with it.
At least with UCF, we’re still getting more crust: By not chill filtering, the company isn’t striping some of the fats and oils that lend flavour. I’m all for that.
So while Glenburgie 21 1995 Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection may be at the best abv for the whisky, I don’t really get to find out that. Sure, this 21-year-old, ex-Bourbon hogshead Glenburgie may be at it’s apple pie best, and thus great to either Signatory or Specs Texas (who it was bottled for), however my personal taste may be hunting an ex-Bourbon Burgie that doesn’t evoke tons of apple pie.
Thus my trepidation at buying whiskies below cask strength; I don’t think they’ll always be bad, I would rather buy less whisky to drink to save up for cask strength whiskies that I can adapt to my tastes. But today we have a sample, and I’m interested in how it tastes.
So let’s see where a UCF lands in the debate of apple pie or not, shall we?
Price: No idea
Distilled on: June 15, 1995
Bottled on: May 18, 2017
Matured in: a Hogshead
Cask No.: 6524
Number of bottles: 243 bottles
Specially Selected for: Specs Texas
Colour: 5Y 8/8
Nose: Peach, butterscotch, floral, ginger
Stone fruit, sugar, floral, and spice. Yup, it’s Glenburgie. Wrap it up folks, we’re done here!
Standard nose for an ex-Bourbon Glenburgie, albeit with more of a peach flavour versus the standard apple I’m used to. Though honestly you most likely could argue peach and apple can be similar, what with the literal thousands and thousands of apples that were ever grown.
Ahem… So it’s sweeter on the nose. Getting less complexity on the nose, but maybe it’s just very shy.
Taste: Cardamon, cloves, pear, char
Spice, spice, and some burnt flavour. Oh and pear. Let’s not go down the “stone fruit is similar to one another” path again, I can already hear the typing of keys in anger at that previous statement.
It’s not well balanced. To bring it back to my previous point, there’s a chance that this whisky could have had more fruit to it originally. And while ensuring no chill filtering means that flavour isn’t completely striped, the lowering of the alcohol percentage and potentially removing the fruit there.
Now do I think someone is twirling their moustache, thinking how lowering the alcohol on this one whisky will make them even more money and creating something akin to sampling your spice rack? No, maybe only a little bit, but ultimately no. It could have had that flavour, or perhaps it didn’t at all. However we can’t un-water-down the whisky, so I’m left with it as is.
Finish: Cinnamon, apple, burnt cereal, grass
What starts as apple pie ends with burnt cereal and grass. It’s a rough, bitter, burnt whisky. And I like char, don’t get me wrong: There’s an ongoing cold fight between my wife and I on the appropriate amount of char on the cauliflower. This is excessive, or at least is missing some sugar to balance it out enough.
Conclusion: Burnt spices and cereal. Kinda bitter. Like the spice, I need more to the whisky to really love it.
I can’t help but draw the comparison to various other similarly aged Glenburgies. I think watering this whisky down caused this, or this whisky wasn’t wowing me to begin with. Now that’s fine if this was inexpensive. At $50 (USD) this would have been a fine whisky to pick up. My score doesn’t include that factor, I just want to be clear there.
Also there may be a lot of people who want this either for mixing in cocktails (it starts with the spice nicely) or don’t need as much sweets. They may still have issues, as there’s a charred element here that I’m not loving. I can’t recommend this whisky as it stands, and I continue to be wary of UCF as a brand.
Scotch review #1605, Speyside review #457, Whisky Network review #2332