Signatory Glen Mhor 16 year old ceramic
A rare sighting of the Signatory ceramic Glen Mhor, of which very few details are known. I actually opened this as part of my Instagram Live presentation on the distillery. Why on earth did I decide to open a ceramic (often the most tricky of vessels) to open on a show? I suppose that's me; straight in at the deep end and hopefuly an informative event.
Now, I was a little rusty and the new Live format has certainly changed (allowing you to share photographs is great) and the audience enjoyed the show. With over 500+ views, it isn't the most popular thing I've ever done, but it is one of the most informative. Next time, it'll be more slick and perhaps focused, or then again, maybe not.
So, back to this ceramic. As far as I'm aware this style was only used for 2 distilleries with the other being Port Ellen, which is fine company to keep. Details for Signatory are very scant, we only know the age and reduced strength of 43%. There has been some rumours around the Port Ellen release of being a fake - is it or isn't it - and I think that's been put to bed since. The Glen Mhor bottling in comparison has been largely overlooked.
Ceramics are a pain in the ass, often prone to evaporation and 9/10 the cork has dried out, becoming a stone-like artefact, wedged in its tomb. There's also the fact you just don't know what you're getting until you've broken through the seal. For the record, this ceramic prior to bottling weighed 1.4kg and as you'll see from the above linked video, the ceramic decanter did its job extremely well. We only lost a good sized dram to nature. That's a result as I expect this comes from the early 90s, meaning 30 or so years later, we've got a fairly intact pour of whisky.
Now, on the subject of fakery, Signatory is often hard to pin down or find details upon such things. This Glen Mhor was also released in a miniature 5cl size, which also echoed the style of the above main release. I'd also say it is quite the feat if you're gone to all these lengths to produce a fake to only then declare it is 16 years old and from a relatively obscure Inverness distillery. It just doesn't add up. Pick a bigger name and a more lavish age statement. Plus the wax seal and cork were of very good quality, which underlines the effort involved from Signatory I'd presume.
If you watch the above show (and you can skip through my waffle to the big extraction if you wish), I only really provided initial notes without much substance. I'm not a big believer in the neck pour theory, which I've always found to be laziness. Most modern malts have a limited portfolio and presence compared to their forefathers. So, the majority won't venture too far beyond that initial pour. Yet others, wonderful evocative distillates, such as Benrinnes, Mortlach, Springbank and Dailuaine, will develop with time and take you on a journey. I guess, this is why new distilleries such as Dornoch and the incoming Kythe are looking backwards in order to move whisky forward.
Neck-whatever aside, Glen Mhor is a pungent and challenging distillate. Imagine being cooped up in a ceramic vessel for nearly 3 decades only to be thrust into a glass and down the throat of an overeager Youtuber? Not ideal and I've seen it. What I prefer to do is decant the contents into a 70cl whisky bottle (thoroughly cleaned) and set aside for a few weeks. Let things settle and you'll see the benefit. Yeah, there's a greed an eagerness to jump straight in, but having done this several times to good effect I find it to be beneficial. That's why when you order a steak they let it rest, otherwise you're wasting your money.
After all is said and done, we have a whisky to review and I wish I had more details to provide other than tasting notes, but this is the best I can do! This review will be added to our growing library of all things Glen Mhor.
Colour: a pretty light tan
On the nose: stone fruits, pebbles and a mineral aspect. The spirit is still evident at this strength and age, suggesting some gentle casks. Sour apples, a strawberry spring water drink, kumquat, coconut and old nutmeg.
In the mouth: a touch of smoke and some stone fruits with strawberries. Dried hay, concrete, white chocolate, toffee and a dull vanilla. Earthy as well, musty in parts. Embers, tired wood with a gentle assortment of wood spice and some old bottle effect. Green fruits with apples and pears.
An accessible Glen Mhor if you're fortunate enough to have the chance to taste, plenty of character at this reduced strength. Echoes of the past linger and it does taste like a late 1970s/early 1980's Glen Mhor in my opinion, but that's just me. There's an element of the unforgiving distillery style in parts, but during this D.C.L. era, whatever changes they made internally, and we know malting was certainly one, they produced some enjoyable whiskies.
While this release is wrapped up in a little mystery, who doesn't love a bit of the unknown? Only through tasting do you appreciate what's inside and this is a pour that I'll enjoy over the coming weeks, months and maybe, years.