Saturday, 5 April 2014

A pair of Adelphis

I’ve always heard big things – turns out they were right.

Adelphi Mortlach 1987, 26 year old, 57% A⊕+

171 bottles, cask no. 3102.  American oak, ex-sherry hogshead.

mtladl1987v1Nose - Dark and bright. Intense, deep sherry, beautifully integrated fresh, clean wood.  Raisins soaked in grappa, some pear drops, a hint of carpenter’s workshop (freshly cut hardwoods, wood glue, varnish).  A totally wonderful nose.  With water, smoother, more elegant, juicy cherries come through, but it’s a little bit more ordinary.

Body - Rich, loads of midrange, and very elegant with a toffee sweetness and delicious malt.  Lots of pepper.  But then a bitterness develops, backed by a very faint sulphurous note, which rides in on a tropical wave of ripe fruits and a little smoke.  It’s a fault, but backed by something seriously fun, and hence quite challenging.  With water, the line between the fault and the payback is more blurred.

Finish - Very spicy, more biscuity richness develops, the challenges continue with significant wood tones combatting toffee malt.  It’s pretty fabulous stuff and once you’ve given the whisky a little time in the glass, with a little water, that sulphur and the toffee come together and become something darkly wonderful.

What's not good about it: At first, the drying bitterness is out of kilter.

What’s good about it:  But with patience it becomes a defining feature and works with the blockbuster nose to provide an authoritative, elegant and deeply intense whisky.  Very good.

Adelphi Clynelish 1996, 17 year old, 57.1% A⊕+

264 bottles, cask no. 6417.  Spanish oak, ex-sherry hogshead.

clyadl1996Nose - Abyssal depths, dusty old oak, raisins on the vine, but with a stewed apple and raisin sweetness, with some cream.  Fantastic intensity, lots of wood and some pencil shavings too, and grapes served many ways.  Finally, some Asian brightness - szechuan peppercorns (untoasted and tough), spring onions and a hint of Asian fruit.  With water, it gets a little more tropical, and a little more meaty - with BBQ pork and slowly rendered fat coming to the fore.

Body - Deep, dark, rich biscuity malt.  Very spicy, very oily and quite herbal with a little rosemary, oregano and loads of lavender.  Fascinating and surefooted.

Finish - The spice continues, long and continuous and quite meaty too.  No duff notes and no unbalanced wood.  Very, very good.

What's not good about it: Only that it’s so complicated that it’s not pure pleasure - so a little challenging but definitely worth it.

What’s good about it:  The full church organ, all the stops out and balanced too.  What a fabulous whisky.

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