As hard as it is to believe, this will be the first time I officially review a bottle of whisky from the Private Barrel Co. I’ve got a fair number of their expressions stashed away for a rainy day – in particular, independently bottled single-cask releases of a 19-year-old Ben Nevis, GlenDronach 20 and an Aberlour 23 (yowza!). Needless to say, these guys can get their hands on some pretty hot whisky, and have the intellectual and business muscle to hustle it all the way back to South African soil. Cheers fellas!
In and around the chaos that is World Whisky Day, The Private Barrel Co. released a very limited new bottling in the form of a single cask Glen Scotia 10 YO. This little beauty is the product of a first fill American oak cask, bottled at a granny-murdering 58.3% ABV in a run of under 200 bottles. Oh, and with a price that would make a Scotsman weep with jealousy.
Light golden syrup.
The lightest, softest whisky aroma I’ve ever experienced. Impossible to believe this is almost 60% ABV! Shoving nose further into the glass yielded success, but even so I found myself with eyes closed, brows furrowed in the effort of concentration required to pick up anything distinct. The predominant smell is quite literally that of a freshly made Old Fashioned – a compressed, tight collection of caramel, honey and vanilla, together with orange peel and spicy notes right at the back. It’s floral – I want to say the “Clean Linen” bathroom spray, but in a good way.
Okay (cough), there’s the alcohol. The first sip is an eye-opener, that’s for sure! This one is going to need time in the glass or a little water – probably both. Heavy stuff. However first impressions are insanely positive – that first fill American cask is doing some excellent work, imparting a lovely bourbon quality without being overbearing.
As soon as that first drop of water hits the liquid you know you’re in for a treat – waves of oily, cloudy goodness radiate outwards and the smell springs to life from the glass. And that first taste…
…yessssss. Truly superb. Richer than you ever thought a 10-year-old Scotch could be. It reminds me a lot of Glen Grant 10, which I’ve been dipping into a lot recently. You get slightly overripe green fruits up front, together with perfume and peaches. The sweetness is nice and subdued (I was worried it would be overpowering), a sort of mild brown-sugar candy taste. Cloves and a little bit of aniseed at the back. The finish is long and bitter with an Angostura spiciness.
Wow, if the Private Barrel Co. keeps it up we’re going to have a cottage industry of people visiting South Africa to try top-knotch Scotch whiskies!
This independent release of Glen Scotia 10 is absolutely awesome. It’s competes neck and neck with the middle-tier “classic malts” like Clynelish and Cragganmore, and offers far more versatility given the high strength and absolute immunity to water. Best of all… At under R800 bottle it’s an absolute steal. GET ONE! There are only 198 bottles of this available, so snag one up the next time you’re scoring eBucks at Checkers.
P.S. You really owe it to yourself to drink this in a tulip shaped glass – if you don’t have a ludicrously overpriced Glencairn or Riedel then any brandy snifter or white wine glass will do the trick. The nose really is lovely, but you’re going to need all the help you can get to channel it straight into your brain hole.