Recently, I attended a Scotch Malt Whisky Society event. Once you examine the program, you need to develop a strategy for the evening. Do you go after a favorite distiller and “run the table”? Do you seek out only those bottles that are over 18 years old? Do you seek out distillers that you haven’t had? Or, do you work from one side of the room to the other? (I’m sure there are more methods to the madness but within our group, these were the four discernible patterns). Since I was with my Pappy and had driven him to the event, I knew that my time would be somewhat limited as I needed to tend to his glass and at the same time keep mine from being too well-filled. I opted to seek out those distillers that I hadn’t had. As The Classic Cask was there with at least 8 bottles, I had found my home for the evening and was able to try the Glen Keith – 20 Year Old, the Glencadam 22 Year Old and a fantastic 40 Year Old that was unidentified.
Glen Keith is a distillery built by and owned by Chivas Brothers (now part of Pernod Ricard). It is a relatively modern distillery opened in 1960 that introduced the first gas-fired stills in Scotland. Production was used in blends (Chivas Regal, Passport, etc.) but the distillery was also used by Chivas to experiment with innovations in production and processing (i.e. developing strains of yeast). The distillery was mothballed in 1999 but after extensive reconstruction Glen Keith was reopened in June 2013.
Here is what The Classic Cask has to say about the production of their whiskies:
Premium whiskies bearing The Classic Cask label are amongst the most rare and unique spirits ever to be offered to the discerning enthusiast. Their unparalleled quality, richness, intensity of flavor, and remarkable smoothness are testament to the slow and painstaking processes, which were employed in their production. The Classic Cask Small-Batch production is just that: never more than 800 bottles to a batch. Each bottle is numbered, its label indicating the total production output, as well as distillation and bottling dates.
And, here is what The Classic Cask has to say the Glen Keith:
Distilled in 1993 and non- chill filtered, The Glen Keith has a color of honey gold; nuances of cherry cola, heather and earthy tones on the nose; a palate with prevailing flavours of earl grey tea and a finish that is long, smooth and warming.
I found the Glen Keith to be…
- Appearance: Pale straw color.
- Aroma: Faint aromas of astringent, sugar and honey.
- Taste: Spicy with a good bit of cinnamon and pepper, a little bit of peat smoke and a little bite in the long, warming finish.
- ABV: 46%
While this might not be a true representation of Glen Keith (as the distillery was mothballed and this lot sold off to a third party), I found this to be a very drinkable whisky. Not as soft as some other Speysides (i.e. Aberlour, Balvenie, etc.), I found the Glen Keith to have the multi-dimensional characteristics of most Speysides with a nice balance of sweetness, spice and heat. I will definitely have to go out in search of another Glen Keith to see if my impressions with a different cask are similar.