It's pretty rare that I get to taste a whisky that's older than me - a problem that, I suppose, only gets worse as I get older.
Girvan is a large distillery largely dedicated to pumping out grain whisky destined for blends but, as is often the case, the occasional cask escapes and turns up as an independent bottling.
Girvan 52 Year Old Batch 1 is bottled at 51.1% ABV; a surprisingly high strength given how many decades the angels have had to take their share.
The nose has vanilla, green oak and freshly cracked nuts. Over time there's a little light toffee that comes through. Water turns the wood old and weathered, and the nuttiness comes through more strongly.
In the mouth, it's light and sweet with caramel balanced nicely with the heat of the alcohol. Hints of dried fruit and perhaps a little brandy start to show too. The finish is gloriously lingering, with cocoa and a little black treacle.
Watered, the alcohol is knocked back and the sweetness comes through more; sultanas and a little warm, woody spice appear along with just a touch of vanilla.
Big and tasty neat, but a splash of water transforms an already delicious dram into something deeply special - the sort of whisky you could open a bottle of one evening and discover it empty the next morning. 5 stars!
Many thanks to Master Of Malt for providing their That Boutique-y Whisky Company Advent Calendar this year.
This review was originally published 21st December, 2016. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.