Next up, a review of another AD Rattray bottling. This time we have a Linkwood 15 year old, and it also comes from their Cask Collection series. This Linkwood 15 year old was distilled 2.04.1998 and bottled on 20.05.2013. It was matured in Hogshead Cask No. 5088 and produced 287 bottles.
The Linkwood distillery is located in Elgin, in the Speyside region. Owned by Diageo, there are very few official releases of Linkwood, instead, most of its production is destined for the Johnnie Walker and White Horse blends. There are occasions to find independent bottlings, like this one, and I’ve tried a few different ones. A while back, The Liquor Hound shared a 28 year old Samaroli bottling that was superb – a big, heavily sherry-influenced bottling that still remains high up on my list of bests.
Review: Linkwood 15 year old, AD Rattray Cask Collection, Distilled 2.04.1998, Bottled 20.05.2013. Hogshead Cask No. 5088, Number of Bottles 287, 54.7% abv
Color: pale, white wine
Nose (N): This is a very austere, very shy whisky. The aromas are delicate. It starts with a very grassy nose, dry grass and hay. There is a note of fresh-soaked barley (if you’ve been on a brewery tour, you’ll remember this smell!) Sandalwood incense, hints of pencil lead, and hand lotion. Unripe Bartlett pears sprinkled with black pepper. Slowly, but subtly, some red apples and bananas peek through. (W): With the water, there is still a grassy note, but now there was more emphasis on fruits – the red apples and pears, and a hint of black cherry. There was an interesting Mezcal aspect, too, slightly earthy and vegetal. Vanilla is more evident, and also some honey. Certainly, the water opened this one up and made it much more intriguing.
Taste (N): The high abv brings the heat as the whisky rolls back across the tongue. Quite a bit of fresh lemon juice, tart and biting. Rose water, apple peel, orange pith, and very delicate hint of vanilla bean. This has a “dry” mouthfeel, yet, at the same time, it has a nice viscosity, becoming quite “fat” and dense. However, it remains somewhat closed off by the high abv. (W): I added a few drops of water, then added a little more. All in, I added about a teaspoon of water to a pour slightly under 3/4 oz before I got this one where I wanted it – it swims quite well. With the water, the dominating heat is gone, without losing too much of the rich texture. Water brings out more vanilla, and the red apple and pear notes become more prominent. It retains the lemon tartness through the middle.
Finish: Tart, slightly bitter, lemon, red apples. The addition of water brings this finish to life. The fruits are bigger, the lemon rises and fades, there is a bit of that earthy note, then vanilla sweetness. Good length to this one.
Overall: When tasting this one neat, proceed with caution! The abv is very evident in the initial heat, and it really closes off what becomes a very nice whisky. The grassy nature at full abv is muted by water and lets the whisky show more of its personality, bringing out a nice, fruity aspect. Even then, though, this remains austere and delicate. It takes some patience, and the careful addition of water, to bring out its best. This has a great body, especially before water, if you can get past the heat, and a moderately long, enjoyable finish. It does lack some balance and integration, though.
Distillery: Linkwood Distillery, Elgin, Scotland
Bottler: AD Rattray (Ayrshire, Scotland)
Type: Single Malt
Age: 15 years (Distilled 2.04.1998, Bottled 20.05.2013)
Out-turn: 287 bottles
Price: $110 USD (2013)
Sample Source: My own bottle