Hello fellow obscure whiskophiles,
Matt here with my first review of obscure whisk(e)ys from around the world. I thought I would start off with the newest addition to my collection, the Glengrechnie 16yo “Distiller’s Edition” single malt. I picked up a bottle from the Iranian grocer in the used car district near my house a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, the mild-mannered Kourosh (not his real name), spice-and-meat-merchant by day, runs an illegal liquor store out of his back door by night. Quelle surprise!!! He “imports” a lot of spirits from around the world (in bags of lentils and chickpeas) that we cannot otherwise get here in Alberta, because they are not approved by the AGLC for whatever reason. I was lucky enough to be tipped off to this hidden booze-aar by the local Scotch club I belong to (thanks again, fellow Maltese Falcons).
I decided to try the Glengrechnie 16 because it is not readily available in Canada (or the US for that matter) and because it comes from one of the smallest and oldest distilleries in all of Scotland. Glengrechnie is a Lowland Scotch by name only, as I discovered, and tasted nothing like the Auchentoshen drams I’ve been accustomed to in my childhood. The distillery (I had to literally look them up in the phone book to get this information) sits adjacent to the Grechnie river, which is so small you won’t find it on any maps. It comes from the Gaelic word for “rough, hilly terrain”. I won’t bore you with the full history that was recounted to me while I racked up a dreadful long distance bill, but suffice to say, there are more than a few bodies buried on the property, and the distillery has changed hands more than a few times. Many suggest some of the former owners still have an “influence” on the taste of the whisky. Perhaps this is why they are not licensed to sell on this continent.
Anyhow, on to the review.
Nose: On first pass, I was sure that my grandmother had come back from the dead, hadn’t showered for 12 days, and brought me a basket of moldy figs and congealed hamster blood. But in a good way. After a few minutes of opening up, some of the more lichen-y notes became apparent, blue and black lichen specifically. There is also a faint hint of door-to-door vacuum salesman aftershave, like if one stopped by your house around 3:30 in the afternoon on a muggy day. Apples and caramel (but certainly not a caramel apple) also present.
Taste: Oh. My. Kourosh (again, likely not his real name) you have a return customer on your hands. Ok. So it starts off medium smoke, but it’s not a real peaty smoke, it’s like when your friend pees on a campfire to put it out, but before that he had been drinking nothing but caramel milkshakes for 3 days. It’s hard to explain properly. Mandrake root, wasn’t expecting that…. frozen peach fuzz shavings… almost a metallic flavour, but more vibrant, like if you lick a tuning fork… some minor medicinal notes, but not herbal, more of an over-the-counter kind of thing going on… It’s long and fairly narrow, and oily, like my neighbor’s driveway. I’m guessing aged in sherry casks that were washed up on shore, having been discarded in the oceans around northern Spain.
Finish: I’m left with what I can best describe as a ghostly oral reminder of mid-1860′s Glasgow, that one of my dogs seems to find very interesting. The other doesn’t seem to care for it.
All in all, I’m very impressed with my first taste of obscure Scotch, and I will be visiting Kourosh again quite soon. I will have to make sure I don’t accidentally call him Kourosh, because again, it is not his real name. It is made up.
Final score, 89/100.
See you next time,