Girvan 1989 (Berry Bros & Rudd) Review

“Grainy Days and Mondays” 

Country: Scotland 
Region: Lowlands 
Brand: Girvan 1989  
Selected and Bottled By/For: Berry Bros & Rudd, London
Type: Single Grain Whisky
Age: 24 Years
ABV: 46% 

Colour: Light Golden (Natural Colour) 

Nose: The first impressions are Varnish, Sugared Breakfast Cereals and Alcohol. Not unusual for Grain Whisky. Be sure to give the Girvan sufficient time in the glass before Nosing. After a while some Fruity notes come through like Pear, Apple, Banana Ice Cream, Nectarine and Citrus. I also find Chocolate-Flavoured Milk, Vanilla, Milky Way bars, Corn Syrup, Buttered Toast, Bourbon, Charred Oak, Grass and Herbs. It's not bad but the Alcohol is quite dominant. There is a faint Plastic/Rubber off-note but it's not really bothering me.

Palate: Adequate Delivery. Bitter-Sweet and slightly Sour. The Alcohol is very present. I find Sugared Cereals, Toffee, Vanilla, Charred Oak, Milk Chocolate, Apple, Pineapple, Lemon, Grapefruit, Varnish, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger Powder, Cinnamon, light Licorice, Menthol, Dried Herbs, Rum and hints of Aniseed and Espresso.    

Finish: Middle-Long, slightly Sour and Bitter-Sweet with Breakfast Cereals, Oak, Dried Herbs, Lemon, Grapefruit, Menthol, Varnish, Ginger, Pepper, Nutmeg and hints of White Chocolate and Espresso. The Alcohol remains very present until the very end.

I added a bit of Water and you get rid of most of the Varnish on the Nose. It becomes quite Creamy and Buttery. Lots of Cereals as well. Palate and Finish become quite Smooth and Creamy/Buttery but the Flavours get flat. Still, you can certainly experiment with a little Water  

Rating: 80.5 

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20

General Remarks: The Girvan Distillery was founded in Girvan (South Ayrshire) in 1963. It is owned by William Grant & Sons. Most of the production is used in the William Grant Blends. The Grain Whisky is produced with 90% Wheat and 10% Malted Barley. The distillery has 6 Column stills with a total annual output of around 75 million litres. The Vintage Girvan I'm tasting today was distilled in 
1989 and bottled in 2013 by Indie Bottler Berry Bros. & Rudd. It matured in 2 Ex-Bourbon Casks (# 37534/535). This Girvan is not Chill-Filtered. It is still available in some places at a price of around 110 US Dollars (November 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good. The Alcohol is way too dominant.  

Conclusion: It's generally accepted that 65 to 70% of the Flavours of any Malt Whisky are formed by the contact of the Spirit with the Cask during maturation. I would guess that this percentage is even higher for Grain Whisky. That's probably why many Single Grain Whiskies go the market with over 20 Years of Cask time. The Girvan I'm tasting today matured for 24 long years and still I feel it wasn't quite enough as the Whisky is dominated by the Alcohol. On the Nose you can carefully wind your way around the Alcohol but on the Palate and in the Finish this is not possible and you get the full blast of it. I have nosed and tasted three Single Grain Whiskies so far and I have to admit they are not quite my thing. But that won't stop me from trying a few others of course! Everything for science!       

Jan van den Ende                                                               November 9 , 2015

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