Every fall, whisky connoisseurs look forward to Diageo’s annual Special Releases. These special, limited run bottlings come from a subset of Diageo’s active and closed distilleries. There are nine Cask Strength bottlings in this year’s release, and I ordered a set of 30ml samples from whiskysamples.eu that contains seven of these. The first one I’m sampling and writing about is an 18 year old from Speyside distillery Mannochmore, distilled in 1990.
Have you ever tried a Mannochmore single-malt before? Yeah, me neither. Ok…I guess there is a Flora & Fauna release, plus a few IBs, but there aren’t many expressions out there – especially in the United States. This bottling is especially interesting because of the way they have prepared it. It’s been aged using three different cask types:
- Re-charred ex-sherry bodega European oak
- Re-charred ex-bourbon barrels
- New American oak casks that previously held sherry
Bottled at 54.9%, this is a limited release of 2,604 bottles, and sells for a recommended 105 GBP. Unfortunately, this one is not being shipped to the United States.
Mannochmore 1990, 18 year, OB, 54.9%Nose: Lots of spice, oak and vanilla, plus some toffee sweetness and dried fruits…very boubon-like. On first nosing, it’s a little “hot”, with some furniture polish notes due to high abv. That goes away after getting adjusted to it. As I continue to nose it, there’s HUGE vanilla, with apples coming through as well. Palate: Sweet fruits and cinnamon spice. Maybe a hint of walnut. Starts hot at full strength, but pretty easy to drink still. Finish: More spices, the oak comes back, and it’s a bit malty. Maybe some apple skins, too. This is a pretty long lasting Speyside malt!
Comments: Before I had even read about the re-charred casks, I opened up the sample bottle, took a whiff and thought…Bourbon! Except on continued nosing, the fruits are lighter, with Speyside apples/pears coming through. Still, this is the closest I’ve ever experienced to a Speyside bourbon (Spourbon?). It’s quite complex on the nose, has pleasant spices to keep things interesting on the tongue, and the finish is pretty long. I like it! That being said, it doesn’t have nearly as much going on in the mouth as my 1989 Macallan 18 (bottled at 43%). I can imagine the rating inching up if I had more time to spend with it, but based on my 30ml sample, I’d tentatively rate Mannachmore 18 at 88/89 points (B+).
At around $100 (or maybe even $125 based on the rarity of Mannochmore), I’d consider buying a full bottle. However, at $150 plus overseas shipping, I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger. Somebody want to send me a bigger sample to see if I change my mind? :-)
Several bloggers attended a Diageo tasting of the whole Special Release lineup:
- The Whisky Exchange Blog
- Whisky For Everyone
- Caskstrength.net – They divided their coverage into three posts. This first one covers the Mannochmore.
Additionally, Ruben over at WhiskyNotes.be provided his own stand-alone review of this Mannochmore. He really liked it and bought a bottle.