Jul 302016

I’m back from the longest vacation I took since starting the blog, visiting seven different countries and meeting up with quite a few members of the whisky fabric on both ends of the trip – in¬†Copenhagen and in Vienna. It was great meeting you guys, and I look forward to meeting many more members of this wonderful and generous world. Needless to say, if you get to my neck of the woods, shout out and we’ll get together for a dram (or, more likely, several drams ūüôā )

The package from The Whisky Exchange with four beautiful samples of exclusive bottlings reached me just two days before embarking on my Northern European sojurne, and while being able to get a review of the Blair Athol out before departing, the other three had to wait upon my return.

The Imperial Distillery was built in 1897 to celebrate Queen (well, Empress) Victoria’s diamond jubilee, but sports one of the saddest stories in the whisky world, as for most of the century that followed, the distillery was silent. In fact, the distillery fell silent for two decades a mere year after opening, because of the Pattison crisis. It was¬†reopened in 1919, but¬†stopped production for 30 years in 1925. Thus, in the first 58 years of its existence, Imperial was in production for only seven (!!).

Photo Credit: derelictplaces.co.uk

Imperial Distillery in 2010                 Photo Credit: derelictplaces.co.uk

Things seemed to be looking up for the distillery, which was rebuilt in 1955 and produced whisky continuously for 30 years, until the disastrous early 1980s whisky loch, when DCL closed it in 1985. There would be one more spasm of life for the distillery, when Allied reopened it in 1989, and ran it for nine years, this time closing it for good. Allied merged into Allied Domecq, and was bought by Pernod Ricard in 2005. An attempt to sell the property for apartments was made, but the offer of sale was withdrawn when Pernod Ricard decided to build a new distillery on the site, demolishing the old Imperial distillery and building a beautifully modern distillery.

Photo Credit: whiskyintelligence.com

Photo Credit: whiskyintelligence.com

Sadly, it was not named Imperial, and got a whole new start as¬†Dalmunach. On second thought, given the rather sad history of Imperial, I don’t blame them for wishing to start anew….


Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Signatory Vintage Imperial 20 Year Old 1995, Hogshead 50252, Distilled 18.9.1995, Bottled 2.5.2015, 232 Bottles Р TWE Exclusive (50.8% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Light gold, sturdy necklace making its way ever so slowly down with a lot of residual droplets.

Nose: Clean bourbon cask notes with honey, a touch of hay, bit of pepper, some dried orange peel and a distant hint of candy sweetness and faint malt.

Palate: Sizzling spice with a floral honey on the tongue. It’s dry and somewhat bitter with a hint of chili that’s a little restrained in a way.

Linger: Slightly bitter with a sweet honey and touches of citrus and white pepper. The finish is rather nice!


Good sipper, kind of middle of the road, not reaching any extremes of flavor. All in all, it’s a good bottle of whisky you’ll enjoy drinking, and at ¬£70 for a 20 year old from a closed distillery, it looks like it’s priced just about right.

Aug 062014
Photo Credit: www.thewhiskyexchange.com

Photo Credit: www.thewhiskyexchange.com

Imperial (of Glenlivet) was a Speyside distillery opened in 1897 by the owner of Talisker and¬†Dailuaine, Thomas Mackenzie. Named Imperial to denote Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee on the throne and became operational just in time for the Pattison’s of Leith crash which caused a wide recession in the whisky industry, prompting its closure for over two decades. It finally re-opened in 1919. Just six years later, in 1925, DCL who acquired the distillery, mothballed it again – this time until 1955. For those of you keeping score we have less than seven years of operation to 51 years of silence giving us a ratio slightly lower than 1:7 years of silence to every year of operation…..

For three whole decades, 1955-1985, the fires roared under the Imperial stills (until steam coils were installed), but in 1985 silence fell again in Carron, but only for a short time, as the distillery was sold to Allied Distillers (eventually becoming part of the Chivas Bros. portfolio due to the 2005 Allied-Domecq sale to Pernod Ricard) and reopened from 1989 to 1998. In 1998, the distillery was mothballed, then closed in 2000.

Plans for residential real estate development on the site were stopped, and Chivas Bros. have announced that a new distillery would be built on the grounds and demolished the old buildings in 2013. Will the new distillery be named Imperial?


There has been only one official bottling, of a 15 year old, but there are quite a few independent bottlings around, many of them still available for purchase.

I tasted the Cadenhead’s 16 year at¬†the Union Jack in Berlin, and here are my tasting notes:


Imperial 16 Year Old¬†Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection (Distilled 11/79, bottled 1/96) (64.3% ABV, NCF, NC)

Photo is NOT of the expression I tasted (this one is a 17 year old), but the bottle looks like it.... Photo Credit: whisky-raritaeten-andmore.de

Photo is NOT of the expression I tasted (this one is a 17 year old), but the bottle looks like it….
Photo Credit: whisky-raritaeten-andmore.de


Color: Gold, thick legs followed by occasional clinging drops rolling down the glass.

Nose: After the initial alcohol hit on the nose (it is, after all 64.3% ABV) you’ll get sweet American oak notes – vanilla, toffee and caramel. Lemony sweetness, sugar powder doughnuts and lemon rind, with the white. With the addition of water notes of tropical fruit like pineapple and papaya come through.

Palate: Ripe pears, cinnamon and sugar in a very smooth and mouth coating delivery, with a very powerful alcoholic attack to start.

Linger: long and sweet in the back of the mouth with tropical fruit notes.