Whisky Review #125: Convalmore 1977 28 Years Old

And so here we are, the first milestone review of the 100 series! It has taken me a while to choose an expression that I deemed fitting for this review and when I came across my review of the Convalmore (which was written almost 2 years to the day), I knew that I had found the perfect candidate.

But before we get to the review, let’s delve deeper into the history of the under-appreciated distillery.

Convalmore distillery was established in 1893 by the Convalmore-Glenlivet Distillery Co. Ltd. and was one of the few distilleries which was actually not designed by the most famous distillery architect of that time, Charles Doig.

The distillery commenced production in 1894 and remained under the ownership of the Convalmore-Glenlivet Distillery Co. Ltd. until 1904, when it was purchased by W. & P. Lowrie Co. Ltd. for the sum of £6000 (or £672000 in 2018 after taking inflation into account).

The distillery didn’t remain under the ownership of W. & P. Lowrie for long and the company was purchased by James Buchanan & Co. Ltd. the following year. The distillery was ravaged by a fire in 1909, which led to an extensive rebuilding effort and the installation of a special column still which produced an obscure malt whisky until the still was removed in 1916.

Convalmore Distillery
The distillery buildings still remain intact and are now owned by William Grant & Sons. (Picture Credit: http://www.whisky.com)

The distillery was then sold in 1925 to the infamous Distillers Company Limited (DCL), which is the predecessor to Diageo. Under DCL’s purview, the distillery experienced a period of nearly uninterrupted production which was punctuated by several upgrades.

The first and most significant change was the conversion of the stills from being coal fired to indirect steam heating, which would have resulted in a greener spirit character. The second change was the increase in the number of stills from two to four in 1964, which doubled the production capacity of the distillery.

Other upgrades included the expansion of the bonded warehouses, the construction of a dark grains plant on-site as well as a new mash house in 1970s. These upgrades were sadly in vain as the distillery was mothballed in 1985 during The Great Rationalisation of the scotch whisky industry, never to be reopened.

The distillery buildings were then sold to William Grant & Sons in 1990 and all of the distillation equipment were removed. The buildings are now used for the maturation of both Glenfiddich’s and Balvenie’s whiskies.

Over the years, Diageo has released a number of official expressions as both standalone and Special Releases expressions and this week’s review focuses on a standalone expression which was distilled in 1977, matured for 28 years in a variety of casks before being bottled at a cask strength abv of 57.9% by Diageo and with an outturn of 3900 bottles.

So, let’s jump right into the review!

Convalmore 28 Years Old
Convalmore 1977 28 Years Old

Convalmore 1977 28 Years Old (57.9% abv)

Colour: Deep amber

Nose: Initial entry presents a rather fruit-forward nose which has hints of strawberries and cherries, followed by oak, marzipan and cinnamon. With time, herbal hints of sage and thyme emerge alongside barley sugar, lemon and hints of supple sherry. (22/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents more of the fruit-forward hints detected on the nose, with strawberries, cherries, lemon and apricots figuring prominently. The oak soon followed and is complemented by worn leather, sherry, cigar leaves, oak, cinnamon and sage.

There’s a buttery feel to the oak and the marzipan follows through fairly quickly after. Quite weighty and full-bodied on the palate. (23/25)

Finish: Long and lingering on the finish, with the sherry and fruit hints intermingling beautifully and being complemented by the oak, cinnamon and marzipan. (22/25)

Balance: An exceptionally well-balanced dram which exhibits both sherried and bourbon-esque hints in equal measure without favouring one or the other. The mouthfeel is oily for the most part with just a touch of dryness towards the end. (23/25)

Rating: 90/100

I’m rather glad that I had the opportunity to sample this expression back in 2016 at The Auld Alliance and it is no longer available at the bar. With prices for bottles of this expression hovering somewhere north of £700, it would be rather difficult to acquire a bottle of this.

That being said, if the opportunity presents itself and the finances permit, I would seriously consider it.

Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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