Admittedly, I’m a bit of a single malt snob when it comes to my Scotch. Sure, I’ve found a few blends that I don’t mind, and a couple that I genuinely enjoy but, I’ve always found more hits and fewer misses in the single malt category.
For this reason, I was somewhat reserved when my brother-in-law brought over a bottle of Glen Silver’s 12 Year Old, but I was mildly intrigued since it was a whisky I’d never even seen, let alone tried, and I was cautiously optimistic since this blend acted a little bit like a single malt with its corked stopper and classy labelling. I was about to discover that a pure malt whisky is a very different style of whisky from other blends.
Most blends, in addition to malt, contain a percentage of grain whisky, from unfermented barley, resulting in a drier, less flavourful spirit – at least in my opinion. A pure malt, on the other hand is composed entirely from malt whiskies, so the character of the dram seems a lot more like a single malt.
Glen Silver’s 12 Year Old is bottled at 40% abv and is available in Alberta for less than $40 per bottle.
To The Eye
This is a bright golden dram that reminds me of Glenmorangie. The most striking thing about its appearance is how reluctant the legs are to return to the glass… I haven’t yet noticed another whisky do that.
In The Nose
Okay, now I’m convinced that Glenmorangie must make up a significant portion of this blend since I’m immediately reminded of it’s aroma. Ripe pears are front and centre, along with a honey-like character that I’ll call beeswax, since it’s not as sweet smelling as honey. Oak and peat are also very evident.
On The Tongue
This is a smooth, pleasant dram that displays plenty of oak on the palate, along with pepper, peat and maybe a hint of licorice. It’s not overly complex but it’s certainly easy to drink. This pure malt blend has none of that dry, puckering, alcohol-without-flavour quality that I usually find in grain whisky blends. The finish is medium, leaving me with a sense of oaky sawdust.
I won’t try to convince anyone that Glen Silver’s 12 Year Old is a spectacular whisky but it’s not a poor one either. Any time I find a bottle of Scotch for less than $40 that’s half decent, well, I’m kind of impressed! It’s not a connoisseurs dram but, if your looking for an affordable bottle that can do double duty as a sipper or a mixer, it might be exactly what you’re looking for. In addition, this bottle has opened my eyes to another type of whisky – pure malt – that I might have otherwise ignored because of my bias towards blends.