Scottish grain whiskies, distilled typically from wheat or corn on columns stills, don’t get much love in the Scotch world. Pot-distilled barley contributes more flavor and texture, or so the argument goes, and thus grain whisky is rarely bottled on its own. Instead, it serves as the workhorse for most blended Scotch, contributing sweetness and a lighter palate and usually not much else. When it is seen in the wild, it’s most often as an independent bottling like this extra-aged Invergordon single grain unearthed by the chaps at Single Cask Nation back in 2020 and made available exclusively to their “Nation” members.
The Invergordon Distillery is the most northerly grain distillery in Scotland and provides grain whiskies for a host of blends made by its parent company, Whyte & Mackay. It’s a comparatively youthful operation by Scotch whisky standards, and the whisky in this bottle would have gone into barrel not long after it began operating in 1960. Like most grain whisky, this one has been aged in an ex-bourbon barrel; in this case a second-fill ex-bourbon hogshead. We’ve covered several Single Cask Nation bottlings over the years, but this is by far the oldest whisky we’ve encountered under their label. Let’s check it out.
The aroma is decadent and dignified, rich with a buttery caramel, almost butterscotch, sweetness reminiscent of well-aged bourbon. Vanilla custard and a bit of cinnamon sugar follow suit, and with some air, a touch of orange blossom honey and a bit of lavender emerge. The palate is surprisingly lively, showing lots of vitality despite its decades in the barrel. An initial bright, torched sugar sweetness and touch of woody spice give way to notes of chewy caramel candies and doughy cinnamon rolls. The finish sees the dark brown sugar notes build until the arrival of damp barrel notes and subtle muddled mint which lingers with a gentle bitterness and diluted sweetness, like the last sip of julep. It’s an incredibly unique and enjoyable whisky and a rare example of how complex grain whisky can be. If you’re really, really patient.
A- / $295 / singlecasknation.com