Bought: CASC, Aberdeen, 24th March 2016
87.4/100 – Whiskybase (average from 7 member votes)
The independent bottler Signatory Vintage (SV) seem to be dominating the market with releases from the closed Imperial distillery. In 2016, according to the whiskies listed on Whiskybase, big independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail released one bottle of Imperial, as did Duncan Taylor, whereas SV released 16. These were either single cask bottlings or a combination of two or three casks. So you have to think that SV bought up a lot of old stock from the Imperial distillery, which was demolished in 2013 but production had been mothballed since 1998.
Not only does SV have a lot of old casks from Imperial, they seem to be exclusively from whisky distilled in 1995. They’ve been releasing numerous bottles from this year since 2011, either at cask strength or 46%, and always un-chillfiltered and natural colour. Other independent bottlers have Imperial casks post-1995 showing that the distillery was still producing whisky as late as the fateful 1998. So it won’t be long before the youngest new bottlings will be a minimum of 20 years old. Collectable? Definitely but maybe not returning a profit for a while given the way SV are flooding the market. It’s almost as if they know there’s a whisky boom!
Having tasted this bottle of Imperial (I have a 19yo as my investment) I would agree with the excellent score on Whiskybase. This is a fantastic old Speysider. It’s a great shame it’s gone but SV are certainly making sure it’s not difficult to get hold of, for now. I suspect that prices may follow a similar rise to bottles of Littlemill (dismantled in 1997), which were quite reasonable a few years ago but are now rare and £200+.
Tasting notes left on Whiskybase:
Nose: Apple, almond, caramel, vanilla, honey, citrus and a whiff of smoke.
Taste: Honey, hazelnut, caramel, citrus, beeswax, white pepper and vanilla.
Finish: Caramel, hazelnut, honey, vanilla and chestnut.
Posted in Imperial (demolished 2013)
Tagged 18yo, 1995, 46%, 50284, 50285, 70cl, CASC Aberdeen, Imperial, Signatory, Single Malt, Speyside
Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 16th February 2015
86.6/100 – Whiskybase (average from 17 member votes)
Although demolished in 2013, the Imperial distillery was mothballed in 1998, so new bottlings are getting older and older each year, dating back to casks from the mid 1990s. I thought I’d discovered my bottle by Signatory in the Whisky Bible 2015 until I realised it was an 18yo distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2013. Mine was bottled in November 2014, long after the WB 2015 went into print. The two similar 18yo bottles Jim Murray reviews in his Bible get decent scores with 84.5/100 and 86/100 so I’m feeling hopeful that my 19yo is a quality dram. The 17 reviews on Whiskybase seem to think so as 86.6/100 is a very good score.
Buying this bottle of Imperial was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. Back in 2013 I could have bought a bottle of Littlemill, another closed distillery, for less than £100. Sadly, not now. You rarely see a new release of Littlemill from independent bottlers, and prices in auctions are going up and up. I didn’t want this to be the same with the Imperial so I started looking around for a bargain. I picked a bad time to look because there was a lull in the market and bottles of Imperial were hard to come by. So when a new batch appeared from Signatory, I pounced like a starving frog on a grasshopper. I’m just hoping (or even hopping) that this Imperial isn’t quite so crunchy! But, this year we should start seeing the youngest new Imperials being 20yo, and even more expensive, so I feel I’ve made a good purchase.
Bottle number 3 of 754.
Cask No’s 50157+50158
Bought – Online Whisky Auction, 31st October 2013
79/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
I don’t often wish I was 18 again but when it comes to buying whisky that was distilled in the year of one’s birth, it’s cheaper to be younger rather than older. I bought this bottle of Imperial in my first ever whisky auction, so I was excited to see several whiskies that were casked in the year of my birth (1970). I was winning 3 until gradually the prices went up and up until I was left with this Imperial. I’m certainly not complaining. I was after an example of Imperial for my collection.
Since my collection is focused on getting single malt examples from every active distillery in Scotland, it might seem odd to want an Imperial given the distillery hasn’t been used for 15 years and was demolished this year. Well, the owners, Chivas Brothers, have announced plans to build a new distillery on the site of the old one. Although I’ve not heard any confirmation of this, there’s a good chance they’ll call it ‘Imperial’. And with that I’ll have an early example of a now reopened distillery!
In an attempt to find a review of this bottling I discovered that Gordon & MacPhail also did a 1970 version with a brown label. Someone gave it a low rating during a tasting so I’m glad I don’t have that one! I also found this different version on Hard To Find Whisky for £40 for a miniature. I only paid £8 for mine, so I think I’ll be doing more auctions in the future!