A few months back I was invited up to go and visit Girvan distillery to have a look around. Sadly I couldn’t make it, so as a backup option I was sent a set of the distillery’s core range to take a look at. I’ve tried the 25yo old before, and really enjoyed it – review here – but to try the rest of the range was a bit of a treat to see how it compares. Let’s take a look…
Info: 94% abv as it comes off the stills, this is reduced to 42.6% abv; it’s not whisky as it’s not aged at all.
Colour: Totally clear, as all new make spirit is.
Nose: If you’ve nosed single malt new make, then this will be familiar, if not a little more gentle (especially at this strength). Sweet and grainy with hits of acetate. Hints of a metallic nature. Young, not quite ripe green apples.
Palate: Very very easy on the palate, the sweetness coming through straight away with the fruity malt coming later.
Finish: On the finish it’s longer than I imagined it would be, fairly warming on the chest leaving sweet grain behind.
Thoughts: Bottled at 42%abv which is unusually low for new make spirit, but it’s done so to match the rest of the range so that you can compare nice and easily at the same abv. Some new makes can be a bit harsh, but this is particularly drinkable just as it is. You can tell that this would make a great base for many a mixer. Great quality stuff, shows how good something can be even when mass produced.
Available: Only available in the sample tasting packs as far as I’m aware.
Info: No age statement entry level release.
Colour: Light straw.
Nose: Not too far from the new make above, the acetate notes are still there, but with gentle introduction of oaky hints now.
Palate: The ageing in oak actually makes for this to be a smoother delivery than the new make, it’s gentle fruity sweet smoothness given some depth by a drop of oak.
Finish: The oak helps to make the warming finish last a little longer than I was expecting. It’s not overly long, but there’s a pinch of spice at the end which is fun. There’s a youthful edge left at the end indicating it’s younger age.
Thoughts: Very easy drinking and enjoyable enough. It’s not layered with complexity, you shouldn’t expect it to be. Would go well in the summer with lots of ice and some fresh apple juice I reckon. Worth £40? You can find better quality, higher abv single malt for less, but if you’re up for education then give this a whirl.
Available: The Green Welly Stop – £40.99
Info: Girvan’s launch edition bottling.
Colour: Summer gold.
Nose: Although the softness and character of Girvan still comes through, there is much more depth and character to this coming from the long maturation in oak. Many more of the old dunnage style oak and moss notes you might expect to find in something of this age, although it’s still gentle.
Palate: Still very easy on your tongue with the older wood soon becoming apparent. It’s gentle, restrained, old and relaxed. There’s plenty of sweetness, grain and balanced oak with a slight touch of floralness and vanilla about it.
Finish: The finish is, as the rest, not the longest, but the wood really helps to draw it out and make it last longer with the oak sweetness.
Thoughts: I’ve always enjoyed this dram, and on retasting it now I still love it. Shame about the price, although Green Welly currently have it on for £50 less than most. It’s a big step up from No4, but also a big price hike too. Worth it? Any malt that’s 25yo and less than £200 these days seems to be a fair price. But also look around for independent bottlings of this, far cheaper, although may well not be as good.
Available: The Green Welly Stop – £190
Info: Matured in American white oak casks for 3 decades.
Colour: Straw to light gold.
Nose: The gentle Girvan spirit comes through, but the age gives way to brown sugars candy floss along with grains and oak hints. The slight acetate nature is there at the back.
Palate: Slightly thicker feeling than the others in the range maybe, with oak notes there straight away, although not in any way overpowering. The brown sugars on the nose aren’t quite so apparent on the palate, although it’s got a lovely relaxed sweetness with a tiny pinch of peppery spice.
Finish: There’s a pinch of spices on your tongue which then leads on to a longer finish of sweet oak, grain and gentle fruits with just a hint of tannins. It’s about as long a finish as you’ll get with grain whisky.
Thoughts: It’s a marvellously relaxed and understated dram. It’s not full of complexity maybe, but there’s plenty of flavour there to sit back and enjoy. Is it worth best part of £400? Hey, if you have £400 to spare then why not! But for me, nope I can’t afford that, but it is bloody good all the same, so grab a dram if you’re offered one!
Available: Master Of Malt – £366
Thanks to Girvan for the samples.