Whisky Review #129: Pluscarden 1977 38 Years Old (Bottled by Silver Seal)

During my recent trip back to Melbourne, I had the chance of working alongside two of the most illustrious whisky bars they had: The Elysian Whisky Bar and Whisky & Alement.

While I was collaborating with the both of them, I also had the chance to sample several exceptional expressions from their range of offerings and the next few reviews will focus on these expressions.

First up, we head to Whisky & Alement and take on a rather special expression!

This expression was distilled in 1977, matured for 38 years in a sherry cask before being bottled at a cask strength abv of 46.7% by Italian independent bottler, Silver Seal.

This expression doesn’t explicitly name the distillery in question, but uses the term “Pluscarden” as a means of identification. Some of us will immediately know which distillery this is referring to, but for those who aren’t sure, this expression was sourced from Miltonduff distillery in Speyside.

Miltonduff is a rather large distillery and produces approximately 5.8 million litres of spirit, most of which ends up in well-known blends such as Ballantine’s (where it is one of the four signature malts) and Chivas Regal, among others.

But if one were to delve deeper into the history of the distillery, they would be aware that Miltonduff was a hotbed of experimentation between 1950-1980 and would also know that the distilleries had Lomond stills installed on-site to provide the distillery with the ability to produce different styles of spirit.

The spirit which was produced on these rather unusual hybrid stills was rather special and was also known as Mosstowie. It is this spirit that we will be focusing on for the purpose of this week’s review.

So, let’s jump right into the review!

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Pluscarden 1977 38 Years Old (Bottled by Silver Seal)

Pluscarden 1977 38 Years Old (Bottled by Silver Seal, 46.7% abv)

Colour: Mahogany

Nose: Initial entry presents a rich and dense whack of sherry which is very much in the old style, followed by pine sap, roasted almonds, dried apricots and earth. With time, supple oak, rancio, parchment and a touch of acetone present themselves. A rather full and enticing nose. (23/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents the previously mentioned sherry hit, which is dense but not overwhelming. Apricots (both fresh and dried), rancio, damp earth, oak, white pepper and nutmeg emerge fairly early on and are followed by roasted almonds, furniture polish, creosote and just a touch of acetone. A very full-bodied and weighty dram. (24/25)

Finish: Long and lingering on the finish, with the sherry very much apparent long after the other elements fade into the ether. Becomes rather oaky towards the end and there’s a tiny hint of white pepper and cinnamon at the very end. (22/25)

Balance: A supremely well-balanced expression which showcases the best of old school sherry and superb distillate. The mouthfeel is oily for the most part but does become rather drying later on. (23/25)

Rating: 92/100

It’s a shame that none of these Lomond still derived expressions were given more consideration by Hiram Walker other than being used to provide body to the various blends under the company’s purview, but in some sense it was probably for the best when one is to consider that single malt releases were still in their infancy back then.

It is also refreshing to see the independent bottlers making a concerted effort to highlight these hidden gems from the more obscure distilleries and one would do well to track down and sample the likes of Glencraig from Glenburgie distillery as well as other expressions of Mosstowie.

Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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