Today’s review is from the Impex Collection, the relatively new independent bottling line from importer Impex Beverages. Impex came storming out of the gate with their first series of independent bottlings including a 25 year old Springbank, a 21 year old whisky from a distillery in Orkney [wink wink], and a variety of whisky and other spirits from around the world.
The oldest product in the first edition of the Impex Collection is a 40 year old blended Scotch whisky from 1980. Aside from being older than I am, this blend has quite the back story behind it.
There was a program many years ago where late 1970s and early 1980s distillate from Highland Distillers (now Edrington) brands were blended together and finished in sherry casks. This is one of those blends. The component whiskies in this blend were all distilled in December 1980 and moved to sherry butt #34 in 2005. The blend remained there until bottling 15 years later in December of 2020. The exact whiskies in this blend are unknown but if you look at the usual suspects of malts (Macallan, Highland Park, Glenrothes, Tamdhu) and grains (usually Invergordon) in the Edrington portfolio at the time, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these whiskies in any proportion. Rumor has it that the component malts that went into some of these old blends fell under 40% ABV over time so blending them together with higher strength grain whisky brought the total ABV back up to a legal level. It’s unclear if that was the case with this particular barrel or if the bottling strength is simply the result of 40 years worth of evaporation.
The Impex Collection 40 Year Blended Scotch Whisky comes from cask #34, yielding 525 bottles at 45.5% ABV. This whisky has a great story behind it with likely components from distilleries that would cost an arm and a leg as standalone 40 year old single malts. Is this unusual blend greater than the sum of its parts?
|Nose||Stewed fruits, cherry syrup, caramel, sawdust, earthy and savory, pie crust, cinnamon, pipe tobacco, leather, toffee, a bit of sea air. With water, some additional baking spice and some light citrus are introduced. This whisky smells you're standing outside a bakery that's next door to a cigar lounge.|
|Taste||Sherry sweetness up front, Werther's Original, vanilla ice cream, almonds, clove, sharp pepper, cinnamon sugar, dried cherry, orange peel, plenty of old oak underneath. With water, there’s a much richer wine presence including some big tannic notes. The red berry influence intensifies over time as well.|
|Finish||Drying, pepper, chocolate, more butterscotch notes, earthy, is that a hint of chili flakes? Water brings out even more spice along with waffle cone, more leather, juicy strawberry, and a deep oak that pulls it all together. That incredible old oak and dried fruit are the last notes to fade.|
|Overall Thoughts||A tremendously impactful whisky given its unusual origins. This whisky takes you on a journey through time with an old-school feel that isn't often captured in the modern whisky world. Water does absolute wonders to this expression, especially on the palate and the finish. I sincerely hope to be able to try more blends of this caliber in the future.|