Of late, these ’77 Glenturret whiskies have been a highlight in the outturn of a great many independent bottlers. The Whisky Agency, Malts of Scotland, Maltbarn, Master of Malt and a number of others have all taken turns in sharing casks from this esoteric distillery, and without exception these have been high quality, good value releases. In many ways this veritable flood has really put Glenturret on the map as a slightly unusual yet very charming whisky, deserving of much more attention than it generally enjoys.
This particular bottling comes from the rather reliable Berry’s Own Selection range. Doug McIvor, Berry Bros and Rudd’s Spirits Manager, is responsible for the company’s own label whiskies and reportedly holds this particular Glenturret in high regard. Doug is not a man known for disingenuous enthusiasm which makes this praise, and bottling, of particular interest. It’s worth mentioning that the distillery is home to The Famous Grouse Experience, a notable tourist attraction that regularly sees yearly visitor figures in excess of 100,000 and lends Glenturrent a measure of more widespread notoriety.
Glen Grant whisky has an ever growing and strengthening reputation and this is largely due to the independent releases seen over the last few years. 1972 has become a vintage associated with extremely high quality for a number of distilleries and Glen Grant is one such example, owing much of its recent praise to outstanding casks from just that year. Bottlings such as the Duncan Taylor Whisky Fair release which found favour in the Malt Maniacs Awards in 2010 have helped to define the deeply fruity, vibrant and honeyed character associated with these great old casks.
This new bottling from Berry Bros and Rudd is from the lesser known, and prized, vintage of 1974. My previous experience of these casks has borne out the generally held belief that they often fail to reach the heights of those distilled just two years previously. That said, there are always exceptions to a general rule and hopes are high when a quality bottler, with a proved record of excellent cask selection, is involved.
Caol Ila is often regarded as a safe bet amongst whisky lovers. The spirit distilled at this, Islay’s largest distillery, is perhaps some of the most consistent in overall quality of any currently produced. Berry Bros and Rudd have a similarly reliable track record as an independent bottler and continue to release casks which even at their worst are highly interesting curiosities, and when at their best are simply superb.
There are many Caol Ila whiskies available, especially single casks bottlings, and in recent times those from the early 80s have received much praise, indeed Berry Bros and Rudd have released a number of excellent examples themselves. With that in mind, each new encounter with a bottling such as this 1983 is cause for interest and I must confess a degree of heightened expectation.