In Australia, grain whiskies are ordinarily overlooked at this age of single malts, the avid grain whisky fans normally have to rely on independent bottlers bringing in limited expressions and they often differ in quality; though now and again you do come across gems from the grain whisky producers, and more often than not they come from North British distillery, a Edinburgh-based powerhouse that traditionally uses a high-maize-content mashbill.
I had the fortune to sample this 37 year old North British bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society a while ago at a society event in Sydney hosted by the charming Mr. Matt Bailey.
The nose does come across as a bit thin in comparison to earlier malts but the scent instantly grabs for attention. Our friend Jonathan proclaimed this as a beautiful grain whisky moments after nosing his glass. Coconut sugar and forest berries with a distant sweet barbecue smoke, after the initial grain spices comes more of that custard note. A slight hint of yeasty nature is present and in time the sweet caramel note becomes more apparent and as a result it feels more rounded.
An instant gratification on the palate, a smooth delivery of orange blossom and rose water embodying its fruity nature; hint of ginger before the oak starts to assert itself, but only lightly and sparingly, as a complimentary act that reflects the fact that the spirit has been well aged.
Onto the finish and the dram now releases a brush of white chocolate with a mesmerizing buttery aftertaste. It remains a comforting dram through out with just a slight bitter note in the very end to sign things off.
In my book, this is certainly a highlight out of the various bottlings SMWS released this year.