Cadenhead's Glen Mhor 1976 20 year old review

The 1976 vintage from Glen Mhor distillery enjoyed wide support. The Rare Malts Selection bottled in 2005 at 51.9% is the most well-known and easily accessible example due to its outturn. However, it is arguably the most expensive today, on account of the collectability of the range - one that is rightly considered official in nature. 

History shows us that Cadenhead's seemingly purchased a significant group of 1976 casks and bottled these when they were 15, 18, and 19 years old, with the Hart Brothers having released this vintage on a handful of occasions. Nevertheless, there is a broad field of independents supporting this elixir. 

According to my research, Cadenhead's only put out this 20 year old bottling in a 5cl miniature bottle. Interestingly, a 19 year old was bottled in January 1996 with a 0.1% weaker strength. It is possible that some was held over for miniature bottles or excess liquid was redeployed.

Regardless of the reason, we are aware of its existence and I am grateful for the chance to experience liquid history once again.

To put this time into context, the Saladin Boxes were in use at Glen Mhor, with the distillery using around 75 tonnes of barley per week (based on 1975 figures) and golden promise was the variety of choice. The Head Brewer would have been Angus Mackay, and the emphasis would have been on supporting the SMD blending requirements. Gordon & MacPhail was launching their independent version of the 8yo Glen Mhor into the marketplace, thereby replacing the void left by the removal of the official range several years previously.

Bottle info:

Distilled: August 1976

Bottled: April 1997 (20 years of age)

Strength: 57.9%

Cask: matured in an oak cask

On the nose: honey and a noticeable spirit thrust that takes us into traditional Glen Mhor notes such as dusty concrete and petrichor. Homemade tablet, buttery pastry, honeysuckle. A touch of mint, wood spice, strawberries and lemonade. 

In the mouth: caramel and creaminess that transcends into vanilla and more wood spice. Quite oily with plenty of thrust, I wonder if the oiliness is the barley type? Aniseed, nutmeg, heather, honey, lemon rind and a floral quality.

My thoughts

The fill level in this miniature was slightly lower and the cap was not a solid seal. There may be some oxidation, but it's not significant. The aroma is consistent with the palate, but the latter could be showing signs of ageing. 

The Cadenhead's range of green bottles from the 1990s presents single malt whiskies in their natural state, displaying a variety of flavours and aromas, both good and bad, without any room to hide. Some expressions within the range can be quite abrasive, yet this Glen Mhor exemplifies the typical Highland style with its austere presentation. This whisky truly captures the essence of its era and the Glen Mhor DNA.

Score: 6/10