Thanks to /u/devoz for sharing a sample of this with me.
It’s a weird moment to have two whiskies that are so different but the names are off by 1 number. And not a wild swing either, one is just a few years different.
So the last whisky I reviewed was Glenburgie 21 1998 Single Malts of Scotland. Made as part of a batch in October of 1998, this single malt was a spice bomb that eventually made it’s way to the US market.
Now we have Glenburgie 22 1998 Single Malts of Scotland, a whisky made as part of a batch in December 1998, and eventually bottled for a Canadian store called Kensington Wine Market.
To any regular person, they’d assume these were similar. Same distillery, same year, merely two months off, similar casks, heck even picked by the same independent bottler who released it under the Single Malts of Scotland line.
But there’s always subtle differences that arise. A recent discussion delved into the fact that whisky is impacted by the cask, the wheat used, the shape and style of the still, the process in which the whisky is fermented, the yeast, and much more goes into making what we put in our sipping holes right in the middle of our sense holders (aka your face). Change any of this and you’ll have a change to the whisky.
In another group discussion store picking was dissected, and while I can’t do that discussion justice, I can say it impacts the end flavour. As they noted, either there is a tour with samples, samples sent, or a single barrel is sent to a store as a reward for hitting a sales target. Assuming this isn’t based on a sales bonus (I’ve heard through the grapevine that these are typically picked, as the store for this particular Glenburgie has had quite a few picks), that means we expect a preference of the picker or pickers.
See, it gets complicated. And here I thought deciding between goblins and kobolds for my weekly game was the hardest thing in my hobbies.
But how much of a change will all of this impart? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $205 CAD
Vintage: December 10, 1998
Bottled: May 19, 2021
Cask type: Hogshead
Cask number: 751404
Number of bottles: 149
Bottled for: Kensington Wine Market
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Cinnamon, fresh wheat bread, cumin, melon, pear
Spice, some strong bread/yeast/cooked cereal/however you describe what a bakery is like and earth along with fruit. There’s aspects that work nicely together and others that don’t, much like making food the first time you live alone.
Bit more tropical and less totally apple pie though, which is nice. There’s still aspects like that. Or should I say apple-spects? No, no I shouldn’t say that, let’s move on.
Taste: Cinnamon, fennel, pear, cocoa, melon
Spice, more spice, fruit, and hey, cocoa! No one has ever put cocoa in an apple pie, right?
Not a good one at least. This has more earth than typical, and is honestly interesting. It may be a bit spice heavy. Compared to the 21 year old one though? Doesn’t come close. This has much better balance.
Finish: Hay, mineral, ginger, apple, button mushrooms
Farmy, earthy, mineral, spice and apple. So we’re not out of the orbit of planet apple pie but maybe we’re close to its moon. Which looks like a McDonalds in my head.
The finish grew on me (pun intended). At first it was a tad jarring, but with some water and time this really works nicely. Feels like a natural transition to the end. My wife hates it because she doesn’t like the earthy aspects.
Conclusion: Earthy, farmy, interesting version of Glenburgie. I’ll commend KWM on picking this cask, if they did and this wasn’t some sort of sales bonus (which I assume it isn’t, as that’s typically barrels directly from the distillery versus an independent cask bottle). It made me realise I actually want some earth with my Glenburgie whisky, which is why I lean towards sherried ones.
Also it’s not as spice heavy. It felt balanced and interesting, if a tad odd in that you’re having earthy sweets. While not perfect, I think this is a really good pick up.
Addendum: When I reviewed the Imperial 22 Single Malts of Scotland for the same store, I mentioned it had a 100% ex-Bourbon Glenburgie flavour profile. I hinted there may have been mixups on the labels as a joke and I hope people took it that way. Now that I’ve reviewed this, I just feel they have similar profiles and it’s just a fluke, probably caused by an incorrect order at the tasting I was at.
Scotch review #1607, Speyside review #459, Whisky Network review #2334