The other day I got this tiny little box with a batch of tiny little vials of various scotch whiskeys.  My initial thought was that’s pretty tight.  However, after looking at the labels I realized that if they had sent me entire bottles of these spirits the total would have come to over $600.00!  I really wish they had opted to do that! Well my wish was granted, sort of, I later received 18 more vials so I could complete my taste tests.

For a country about the size of South Carolina, Scotland sure does have a lot of distilleries.  Hundreds have come and gone and around a hundred remain going strong.

Spirit Imports, founded in 1993 imports and internationally markets premium distilled spirits.  They import the small batch Classic Cask brand as well as The McGibbon’s Provenance brand.

The McGibbon’s Provenance and dozens of other fine scotch whiskies are the product of Douglas McGibbon & Co., a family owned company formed in 1949. They have built an extensive portfolio of young and old Single Malt Scotch Whiskies. 

Let’s get started with the McGibbon’s Provenance Glenlivet 1997, single malt, 15 year old Scotch.  Glenlivet has been around forever and it is the go to scotch of some of my friends.  They make an excellent product so I am anxious to see what this 15 year old child of theirs is like.  The color is a pale golden yellow hinting that it might not be as over the top as much darker brown whiskeys.  The nose is delicate and not oaky or smoky at all.  As a matter of fact it is surprisingly crisp and clean with hints of citrus and honeysuckle. After it sits a bit the smokiness just barely appears.  On the palate the taste finally awakens to present more of a true scotch profile and yet it’s a delicate scotch profile.  It becomes a bit smoky and has a hint of oak with vanilla and grass in the background.  It is smooth and subtle yet flavorful but not overpowering.  The finish is short and sweet and smooth leaving a faint smokey taste with a touch of pepper that makes it very interesting.  This scotch is so understated that I wouldn’t even think of adding ice.  I’ll bet that even people who profess to hate scotch would appreciate this Glenlivet.

On to the McGibbon’s Provenance Inchgower 1999, single malt, 12 year old Scotch.  Again the color is a pale golden yellow.  The nose however is leather forward and sharp and to the point.  The aroma is thicker and has more body than the Glenlivet and yet there are slight high notes of raisins and fresh figs.  The palate is complex and slightly smoky but not necessarily oaky since I believe this batch was laid to rest in sherry casks which gives it a hint of sweetness. I pick up a taste of pear and apple in the background.  It is flavorful and medium bodied but not overpowering and pleasantly complex.  The finish is medium in length and slightly sweet and smokey with a touch of spice and leaves me wanting more.  On the rocks this scotch settles down into a very refined and delicate drink accenting the scotch and smokey flavor yet retaining traces of the sweetness and fruit in the background.  Either way; straight up or on the rocks this is a good sipper.

Holy cow, I haven’t tried this much booze in one sitting since we tried 18 cognacs one night.  Actually that evening is still one of my most memorable memories which I just really can’t share with anyone other than my father confessor.

At any rate, the next one up is the McGibbon’s Provenance Glenrothes1997, single malt, 14 year old Scotch.  The color is also a pale golden yellow.  The nose is gentle, slightly sweet, and a bit acidic with no hint of scotch or smoke or alcohol at all!  After it has sat in the snifter for a bit it finally reveals the slightest hint of scotch character with no smoke and no oak, it is very clean. The first sip finally shows the first hint of smokiness and scotch taste yet it is quite laid back. It is soft and fruity and citrusy but in a much muted manner.  The finish is also smooth and slightly peppery leaving a residue of tasty flavor behind and it is medium in length.  On the rocks it begins to behave and the smokey scotch flavor comes forward and the rest balances and becomes uniform and it transforms into a great sipping scotch.

OK, so if my crass assumptions are anywhere near correct this last one should be quite interesting; it is the Classic Cask 40 year old rare blended scotch.  Holey moley, I don’t even have children that old – let’s dive into this.  The color is a translucent amber and if it were a solid it would make one hell of a pretty necklace.  Straight from the bottle I get a hint of the oak and smoke I expected but it is very laid back with a tiny bit of citrus in the background.  In the snifter it opens up and those two aromas combine perfectly into a blend where neither one dominates and they are harmonious.  There are also hints of caramel and leather and licorice and chocolate and raspberries.  This is a wonderful nose; I could spend as much time, if not more, just inhaling this scotch as drinking it.  On the first sip all those things I just mentioned combine perfectly.  It’s like a symphony orchestra of flavor where every taste plays perfectly with the other.  The smokey scotch taste which usually dominates in most scotches plays much nicer with all the other flavors here but is definitely still the major player.  Whatever you do don’t put this on the rocks, this is just way too nice to dilute.

The McGibbon’s Provenance Inchgower 1999 is around $55.00 per 750ml bottle and the McGibbon’s Provenance Glenrothes 1997 is around $80.00 per 750ml bottle.

McGibbon’s Provenance Glenlivet 1997 around $40.00 to $50.00 per 750ml bottle.

Classic Cask 40 year old scotch whiskey between $350.00 and $400.00 per 750ml bottle.

Enjoy, they’re all pretty darn good yet in totally different ways.

By George Brozowski


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