Inverleven (Dumbarton) 18yo 1987/2006 (57.9%, Cadenhead, Closed Distilleries, Bourbon Hogshead, 276 bottles)

And here is another Cadenhead’s, from the same kind of cask, from the same year 1987, with three years more ageing. Cadenheads call this Distilled at Dumbarton, made with Inverleven stills. Everybody else calls this whisky just Inverleven. To clear things up. The Single malt whisky that was made this way, was called Inverleven. Inverleven was made untill 1991. This was made with the ‘normal’ type stills. In the same building was also a Lomond type still that was installed in 1959 at the Dumbarton distillery and ran untill 1985 (With the malt being called “Lomond”, not Loch Lomond). Loch Lomond lies close by to the north. Only a few kilometres away, still Loch Lomond is a Highland Whisky, and Inverleven a Lowlander.  To wrap things up. The Dumbarton Distillery was the spiritual home of the Ballantine’s Blend.

Color: Light gold. (Darker than the 15yo Cadenhead).

Nose: Grassy and clean. Balanced, fresh and citrussy. Not sharp fresh lemons, but more deepness to the citrus. It not quite grapefruit. Old very ripe lemons maybe? Toffee and syrup. Candied old lemons, that’s it! In the back some nice elegant wood. This nose is definitely nicer than the 15yo, it’s more mature and balanced. Still the nose of the G&M was even more elegant, and woody. If you look for it carefully, in the depths of this Whisky you can smell a little bit of ether and acetone.

Taste: Sweet and spicy. Ok, the wood plays a role, but in no way like that of the G&M. The sweetness is also a bit more laid back compared to the 15yo Cadenhead. Great balance, fantastic balance actually. There is this perfect balance between the sweetness, the caramel, (more caramel than toffee) and the spiciness of the wood. Also some austere waxiness. Having said this, it still seems to lack a bit of complexity. The G&M seems to have more of that, yet every time I return to this Whisky is get better and better. Allow this to breathe and you’ll be rewarded. It could have remain a bit thicker in the finish, but still this is a stunner.

This version is definitely better than the 15yo, so maybe the extra ageing did some wonders, but you’ll have to allow for cask variation. It’s also better than the Gordon & MacPhail version. But both definitively have earned their place on anybody’s shelf. All of these Inverleven’s are Whiskies like no other. Quite a unique nice Lowlander. Highly recommended.

Points: 88


Inverleven (Dumbarton) 15yo 1987/2003 (58.1%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogshead, 294 bottles)

I ended the last post about Gordon & MacPhail’s Inverleven with the hope that they wouldn’t reduce the next issue (so much). Frolicking around in my stash of samples I unearthed this unreduced Inverleven bottled by Cadenhead’s. It’s from another year, so this may have a different profile, but still worth checking out. Dumbarton was foremost a Grain Distillery. The distillery was built in 1938. In 2002 the distillery was closed and demolition commenced in 2005. I’ve added a picture here, because I have always liked the big red brick industrial complex on the river. By the way, after stopping the production of the Inverleven malt, the Stills went on to Islay to produce Port Charlotte at Bruichladdich.

Color: White wine.

Nose: Grassy and murky, like sitting next to a ditch in summer, not bad, but certainly not lovely as well. A lot of citrus fruits. Lemon, lime, tangerines, but over this a lot of dried grass and hot butter. A slightly meaty or gravy like component emerges from all this. Quite fresh and slightly estery. Hints of mint when nosed vigorously.

Taste: Sweet and fresh. Lively, leafy, slightly woody and again lemons. Some underlying caramel and this type of whisky at this strength makes this hot, but that’s not a bad thing. Caramels, vanilla and toffee, are the main markers here. Not very complex. After some breathing, the bite of the wood enters, but luckily not a lot of bitterness.

Compared to the 1991/2012 G&M, this has even less than half of the wood the G&M. So this is more grassy, lemony and much sweeter to boot. This one lacks complexity, and even though the G&M was on the brink of becoming a log of wood, that one was more complex and therefore more interesting. This Cadenheads is easier to drink (as long as you like cask strength whiskies), sweeter and fresher. Still I like this type of Lowlander profile. Sadly gone.

Points: 84

Inverleven 1991/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, AB/JDAD)

This is the latest Inverleven bottling of the now defunct Inverleven Distillery by Gordon & MacPhail. Gordon & MacPhail still have casks of Inverleven lying around, but have told me since Inverleven is a closed distillery, and the whisky more and more rare, this is the last time Inverleven was bottled in this series. Next time it will be issued in a ‘higher’ series (and hopefully at a higher strength). Inverleven is a whisky made in two Copper Pot Stills on the premises of the Dumbarton Grain Distillery. Whisky was made in these stills between 1938 and 1991, when the Stills were removed. Grain Whisky is still made here in a Column Still. For a while even a Coffee Still was in operation making the very rare “Lomond” Whisky (from 1959 to 1991). By the way, this is not Loch Lomond Whisky, that actually is only a few kilometres away, far enough to be a Highland Whisky. Dumbarton is the home of Ballantine’s blended Whisky.

Inverleven 1991/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, AB/JDAD)Color: Gold.

Nose: Very fresh, citrussy and creamy. Dry leaves in the autumn. So, lots of lemon and vanilla ice-cream. Very nice, slightly sour and spicy wood. Wood in wet earth. Never overpowering. Elegantly spiced, but all the spice is from the wood. Fresh air. This seems to me, based on the nose alone to be a great summer or autumn Whisky. For a Lowlander ánd a Whisky at this strength, this has a very rich nose and very good balance. I can only hope the whisky tastes as great as this nose does.

Taste: Well the first sip I took was quickly gone. So quick that the only taste that came to mind was sweet pineapple and after that I already tasted the spicy bite of the wood, which again is not overpowering, but firmly present. From the second sip I have some vanilla, caramel and even later on a dried grass element. It’s not quite hay.  The initial sweetness, dries out quickly. Malty.

Quite a lot of wood in this one. And the first time around I found the finish to be short. Second time around, when the Whisky had some time to breathe the finish became a wee bit longer. Still, the nose is very nice and the wood shows itself in the nicest of ways. After breathing the woody part got bigger as well, but the finish got a little bit unbalanced. Maybe this got reduced too much? Let’s hope that the next 1991 Inverleven get’s a better chance at 46% (and maybe more…).

Points: 85

Thanks to Stan and Alistair for the sample.