Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Old Age Puncheon - Part I

Master of Malt 40yo Speyside - Second Release - 43%

Not a lovehandle in sight.

Worryingly, I've developed a sore back. I've also developed a penchant for Radio 4, a fondness for early nights and a suspiciously right-of-centre political attitude. It's fair to say I'm getting old. Therein lies a problem; it's getting harder to find (and fund) whiskies older than me. Clearly I have joined this game too late...

Say what you like about teenage binge-drinkers, but they can have the thrill I'm seeking for around 35 quid, when they're not too busy taking selfies in the bathroom mirror or catching chlamydia. With this in mind, I shall be spending this week reviewing a series of reasonably priced (ok, one of them isn't so reasonable) whiskies that reached their 40th birthday before me.

Up first is an offering from the chaps at Master of Malt. They've put out a 40yo bottling of indeterminate origin, save for the fact that it comes from Speyside. 'Great', I hear you cry 'That narrows it down to around sixty or so distilleries'. Actually, it's a rather clever move; by keeping the distillery name under wraps they claim they can source, and of course sell, at a lower price. That's something that never gets old.

Deep, rich and sweet. Chocolate raisins and fruit cake. Concentrated sherry notes with cinnamon spiced Christmas pudding. Without exaggeration, the finest nose I have ever experienced on a whisky. Superb.

Three drops of water uncovers a beautiful caramelised apple pie crust, candied fruits and spiced orange. Nutmeg, more cinnamon, icing sugar, stollen cake and a hint of beeswax. Christmas in a glass.

Hmmm. Quite austere when compared to the nose. The chocolate is present but it's more bitter than expected. A fair amount of wood is evident and this lends to the astringency. With a little time, the expected sweetness of the sherry makes an appearance, accompanied by burnt demerara sugar.

Water does a great job in softening the harsher, woodier notes and allows the fruit to take a starring role. Dried figs, sweet chilli and charred bell peppers. Sugared almonds and flecks of walnut.

Long and woody with mild smoke and dark chilli-chocolate. Dries the mouth almost entirely but is rescued by a mouthwatering finale.

Slightly shortened by the water but still woody and mouth-watering. The spice has been amped up a little but it's not harsh. Pleasing hints of cayenne and cinnamon.

This is a good example of clever cask selection. Wood is naturally very evident but not overpowering. The nose is simply stunning and the palate is very competent too. Purists may argue that the ABV should be bumped up to 46% but, unusually for me, I'd disagree; I think it works well as it is. Currently selling for £260.00, this is a good chance to get your hands on a super aged single malt without having to sell your least favourite child.

Grade: A
I'll be honest, this would have been a B if not for the incredible nose. All things considered though it's still a very good whisky. If you're thinking of buying me a present, I turn 40 in 2019.


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