This is an exciting whisky to finally get ’round to tasting and reviewing. I’ve been wanting to do this one for a couple of years now, ever since it made its way into whisky lore and became a part of the cult canon.
Convalmore is another of those ethereal malts that only exist in print and tall tales for many of us. The distillery was closed in ’85, not long after the rash of distillery closures that claimed victims such as Port Ellen and Brora, and as far as I know, the distillery was subsequently dismantled. For shame too, if this malt is any indication. Very few Convalmore OBs exist (two, proper; three, if you include the Rare Malts edition), and indies are nearly as scarce on the ground. I think it goes without saying that if the opportunity presents itself, it is well worth making the effort to taste it.
This dram is held in very high regard by some incredibly gifted palates in the industry (Broom, Buxton and the bunch), and early reviews of this 28 y.o. malt helped to launch its reputation far into the celestial stratosphere. As you can imagine, that sort of ringing endorsement by gents I respect had me slavering for an opportunity to taste it. My curiosity here was twofold; first, to try something from this now defunct distillery and second, to form my own assessment of the validity of hype for this collectible l’il gem.
On the more topical front, the plain jane packaging on this Diageo special release has earned more than a few comments over the years, and I must concede even I’m not immune to its ‘old tymee county fair’ look and subtle charm. Keeping it simple compliments the rather uncomplicated whisky within. Uncomplicated, however, does not mean without depth. This really is a very elegant Speysider with enough going on in the glass to stay interesting for many long nosing and tasting sessions.
And while it never does quite reach the heights I had presupposed (my own fault, really), it is a really fine whisky nevertheless.
Nose: Caramel candied apple. White pepper. Cinnamon. A mix of citrus juices (orange, pink grapefruit, tangelo). A touch of wax and oil paint. White flour. Soft white and milk chocolates. Hot cross buns. Vanilla. Moist tobacco and clean soil.
Palate: Beautiful mature waxy notes with a touch of char. Strong and syrupy. Tart and tangy fruit notes. Very spicy…very chewy. Rich in ginger, ground nutmeg and cinnamon. Just a touch of fennel. More juicy fruit notes, moving into more tropical flavours like tangerine and pineapple. Mouth-coating and delicious. The cask is still singing loudly here, but it’s clean and lovely.
Thoughts: Bottled at an absolutely gorgeous age and state.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt