Thursday, July 11, 2013

you kinchie devil

I don't get to buy, let alone drink, as much whisky as I used to back in the pre-bairn disposable income glory glory days, but just occasionally a bargain presents itself. And so it was this week when my local Morrisons were knocking out Glenkinchie for 25 quid a pop.

Glenkinchie is a Lowland single malt, a pretty rare breed these days. The only other one readily available in supermarkets is Auchentoshan. There's also the recently revived Bladnoch, and a couple of new ones that haven't officially produced any whisky yet.

Lowland malts are traditionally very light and mellow, with some of them (Auchentoshan claims to be the only remaining one) triple-distilling their spirit, uniquely among Scotch whiskies, though it's standard practice for Irish whiskey.

Dip in for a sniff and you get some magic markers, a bit of citrus-y lemony stuff and just a smidgen of custard tarts. Taste and it's surprisingly "hot" (at 43%) for something so apparently mellow, but you also get more lemon and custard creams and something that might be bananas.

Talking as we were of triple distillation, I thought a useful contrast might be provided by comparison with Bushmills, a bottle of which I was kindly given either for Christmas or my birthday, I can't remember. This one is a bit paler than the Glenkinchie, and much more estery (i.e. the magic markers again) when you have a sniff; it's sweeter too. Have a swig and it seems simultaneously sweeter and thinner, though you do get a bit of mouth-puckering astringency if you wait a bit.

I retain a soft spot in my heart for Bushmills, since it's the first proper single malt I actually paid my own money for, as recently as 2008, but I'd have to say that the Glenkinchie is the more interesting whisky; it's light and biscuity but deeper and darker and more complex as well. Even then, and as fine as the Glenkinchie is, it's up at the polite end of the spectrum as far as I'm concerned, my taste being more for the big hairy-chested Highlanders like the Clynelish and the Oban and the Ben Nevis. But it would be a shame for Lowland whisky to disappear, and while I'm sure Glenkinchie are doing OK (protected as they are by being part of the Diageo stable) there really are a very small number of distilleries left; same goes for the Campbeltown region which has even fewer.

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