Review: Glen Spey 35 y.o. Maltbarn 1977

The ultra-rare whisky from Glen Spey is one of the grassiest and greenest out there, usually paired with vanilla, licorice and soft nutty aromas. A batch of 1977 casks seems to have been laid aside for long maturation because there are quite some releases by now. This Rothes dram contributes to J&B blends and is a rather light spirit due to the purifiers (small condensers, so to speak) used with the two spirit stills. Few bottlings from this DIAGEO distillery could really convince so far, but let’s give the fifth release by former Maniac Martin a fair chance:


Glen Spey 35 y.o. Maltbarn 1977 – 2012, Bourbon Barrel, 124 btl., 52,4%

Comment: Hello big big vanilla, it is also nice to meet your friend from white oak country (sorry for that, this smell caught me by surprise). These main aromas already reveal that it is a huge Glen Spey. Nutty components (coconut oil, almonds, salted peanuts and green walnut), quite some toffee caramel, white chocolate and a pleasant fruitiness (peaches, oranges, lemon zest, pear) join the mix and all have their say. Behind that I find only traces of the expected licorice and grass – and some flowery aromas, white pepper, hints of cinnamon and dry malt. Some time is recommended for this nose because the elements behind the big vanilla-toffee-nut-combo are less obvious. The taste is departing a bit from the olfactory analysis (not completely, but really noticeable) – I expected huge creamy and vanilla-laden oiliness but the whisky actually bears more malt, grass, licorice, honey and wood with tingling spice, a bit green and bitter – as I remember these distillates. The newer palatal tastes dominate now, strange but interesting: two malts in one. The fruit comes through after some seconds until the oak eats it up. Aniseed and herbs complete it. Acceptable balance altogether. The finish is very long on warm oak, nuts, green notes (all kinds),  fruit echoes and consists of 2/3 of the palate and 1/3 of the nose, I’d say. One of the good Glen Speys, congrats Martin, good pick.

Score: 88

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