Updated: Jan 1, 2022
We've got a bottling of Glen Spey here, bottled by the Highlander Inn for the Japan market. The Highlander Inn is an inn and whisky bar located right at the heart of the Scotch Whisky Trail in Speyside, Craigellachie. Highlander Inn is run by the charismatic Tatsuya Minagawa, and this bottle falls under their Maggie's Collection series, a series that started out as bottles bottled for dedicated markets, featuring artwork by local artist Maggie Riegler, and now handed over to artist Hans Doillesse.
As the word "Spey" in Glen Spey suggests, the distillery resides in the Speyside region, the "Spey" coming from the local River Spey, which also happens to famous for trout fishing. Glen Spey is located specifically in the Rothes area of Speyside, and neighbours the Glenrothes, Glen Grant and Speyburn distilleries. But perhaps more interestingly, Forsyth's the dominant maker of pot stills used by whisky distilleries around the world is also located just around the corner.
The River Spey that gives Speyside its name. Spey-side, which is to say the side of the River Spey. (Image Source: Visit Scotland)
The distillery itself actually started out as an oatmeal mill before becoming a whisky distillery. Set up-wise perhaps what is most striking is its use of purifiers which are little condensers used to improve reflux during distillation by returning a proportion of alcohol vapours back into the belly of the pot still to under go repeated distillation, resulting in a lighter spirit as more congeners are stripped out.
Not too much Glen Spey bottlings around, again this distillery serves as one of Diageo's workhorse for the J&B blended whisky. It's generally known to produce fresh floral whiskies that have a light oiliness and nuttiness, and is supposedly quite sweet. We'll see!
The J&B blended whisky that was inherited by Diageo. (Image Source: Difford's Guide)
Here we have a 22 Year Old Glen Spey, bottled at 49% ABV, this one's matured in an American oak hogshead. With the benefit of Tatsuya-san himself guiding the tasting (as part of a tasting session organised by Friends With Drams), he also shared his desire for the Highlander Inn to help use its brand to bring to light some lesser known whiskies, which he relishes as a challenge in being an indie bottler.
Color: Sunflower Oil Yellow.
Nose: Very plump on the nose, fragrant with light florals, daisies and fresh flowers. There's a grassiness to it as well, overall fairly bright and gentle as it fills the nose with plumes of fragrance.
There's also sponge cake, light cake batter and sugar syrup. There's a buttery texture to the nose, akin to ice cream soda. Lots of vanilla.
Buttery sponge cake on the nose. (Image Source: RicenSpices)
Palate: Light bodied, somewhat thin. The brightness persists with some slight chalkiness. Ongoing doses of vanilla and honey, but altogether still quite gentle. Flickers of black tea leaves leave a slight drying quality to it.
Honey drizzle on a vanilla ice cream. (Image Source: The View From Great Island)
Finish: Long finish here. More drying aspects to it, with some hoppy bitterness, similar to the finish on an IPA beer. Some mint and eucalyptus as well, with a herbaceousness reminiscent of fresh chopped coriander.
A beer-esque hoppyness awaits at the finish. (Image Source: Shopee)
Nothing too complex here, the flavors are generally straightforward and gentle, which I think would make a good autumn dram. It isn't too thought-provoking and is fairly light. I'd say the finish was probably the most interesting part of it as you get something that you would find in a beer or stout-cask finished whisky and gives it a bit of a twist.
Light, straightforward flavors, great for a daily sipper.