It’s been a couple of years — and far too long — since we’ve checked in with the independent bottlers at The Exclusive Malts, which are now on release #12 of their series of generally exceptional outturns. Today we look at four of the selections from this periodic release.
The Exclusive Malts Glen Moray 2007 9 Years Old – A young Speyside ages in first-fill bourbon barrels. Quite sweet on the nose, the bourbon barrel carries the experience with notes of vanilla, sugar cookies, baked bread, and some mint. On the palate, the relative youth is clear, with notes of red hots and burnt sugar both heavy, but finding some room for notes of jasmine and nutmeg. Enjoyable in its youth, but a simple experience that is perhaps priced above its fighting weight. 111.4 proof. B+ / $85
The Exclusive Malts Balmenach 2003 13 Years Old – Balmenach is a little-known Speyside distillery, and this 13 year old is aged in first-fill bourbon barrels. Exotic nose, with notes of tropical fruit, incense, and some caramel and chocolate character to back it up. On the palate, more of those incense notes and spiced wood notes mingle with notes of cherry, some citrus, more tropical character, and a hint of menthol on the finish. It comes across as closer to a sherry-finished whiskey than a strictly ex-bourbon barrel one, but one that’s wholly worthwhile. 115.6 proof. A- / $125
The Exclusive Malts Benrinnes 1995 20 Years Old – 20 year old Speyside whisky, aged in a refill sherry hogshead. What a strange experience this whisky is, offering complex aromas of fresh tangerines, burnt rubber, Eastern spices, and dense florals. These are heady, spice bazaar-like notes that lead to a body that showcases somewhat more traditional flavors, including notes of banana and green apple, backed up with lots of camphor. I can safely say I’ve never experienced a Scotch whisky that approaches this flavor profile. I can’t say whether or not that is a good thing. 105.4 proof. B / $170
The Exclusive Malts Invergordon 1972 43 Years Old – This single grain whisky spent 43 years in refill barrels before bottling. As with many single grain spirits, it is rather pastoral in nature, offering florals and fresh granary notes on the nose, with just wispy hints of raspberry. The palate is slightly (black) peppery, with more cereal character and notes of black tea and a hint of apricot jam. The finish is a melange of all of the above, which merits considerable reflection. 96.4 proof. B+ / $260