The grain wagon which was seen by some as the next big thing has come off the rails. Perhaps it was the Haig Club that killed off the momentum or the pricing of the Girvan Grain Patent Still range. For these examples pricing was rarely discussed yet clearly it was an issue alongside grain whisky of variable quality.
Grain whisky is a little timid and shy; it needs time. I've had some crackers that have included a Cambus, Strathclyde and a real rarity in Garnheath. Mass produced it forms the backbone of the blended market yet as a single grain you'll have to display patience. A quality that was clearly lacking when the Haig Club was conceived and priced.
The Scotch Malt Society did a spectacular month of grain releases and encouraged their members to spot the difference upon tasting. Their grain releases have dried up a little and I'm sad to say they haven't tried to encourage more love for grain whisky since. Hopefully they can try again in 2016.
All of this brings me to here; a 1998 release from independent bottler Signatory. I love the packaging as its non-existent and there isn't a flashy label. It's simple and effective. The margins are kept low and it's all about the contents. So this 17 year old will set you back a decent £30. Compare that to the Haig Club which is £40-£45, doesn't feature an age statement (let's say under 5 years would be realistic) and you can sense the value already.
With grain whisky I do think it's very beneficial to try-before-you-buy. Even in a blind tasting, as single malts enjoy a certain status a.k.a. are more desirable and aloof. Grain tends to be the black sheep or runt of the litter. So as I was in a local Luvians (superb selection of wine and whisky), and very impressed with a sample of this so called Ayrshire grain. Ok yes, its from Girvan distillery we all know it!
Signatory have been bottling these on a regular basis in recent years. This one offers plenty of bang-for-your-buck and I was informed had only been runner-up to a GlenDronach 18 year old in a recent shop tasting. Not bad company whatsoever. Impressed by what I tasted, I purchased a bottle for more home research.
Bottled: 30/10/15 (17 years old)
Strength: 43% vol
Colour: sunflower oil
Nose: a delicate and fresh nose. White grapes, white pepper, juicy pears and icing sugar. A char seasoning from the cask adds body and edge. A little lime zest and a slight oily note that I keep thinking is Stork margarine. Given patience right at the end creamed coconut.
Taste: nothing explosive on the palate, rather a gentle stroll which makes this whisky refreshing. A decent finish as well. Green apples, a little pear juice initially in the mouth, pencil shavings and a little more citrus.
Overall: I'd put this down as a really good starter dram whether you're new to whisky or just beginning an evening of exploration or evening outside on a hot summer's evening. Without thinking I've had 3 or 4 large drams easily here and I'm just enjoying it overall. An easy drinker if there ever was one. The fact its around £30 is fantastic and whisky reviews should talk about price more. What's the point of a really good whisky if it costs the same as a reasonable holiday? Do you hear me Balvenie and co?
I've not had the Highland Park Ice yet but its the same age as this fella and costs five times the price. There's no way it offers x5 the experience and you can stick that wooden frame with your Norse gods.
Labels: 1998, ayshire grain, featured, girvan, grain, review, signatory, single grain, whisky