The Linkwood 18 Year 1997 from The Exclusive Malts is dark, like a gritty reboot of The Sound of Music, and moves glycerin-slow in my glass, like a crouched panther getting ready to uncoil into a deadly spring. Daring to lift a glass into the general vicinity of my nose rewards me with red fruit, including black cherries, similar to a mahogany bowl brought to Truman Capote in his opera box at the Met, circa 1977. “Bring me some red fruit!” Also, yellow plums, diced pineapples, papayas, and Golden Delicious apples. “Now bring me some yellow fruit!” Perhaps the box was painted recently? The wood trim lacquered? Some kind of sweet wine spilled on the carpet? Hush! Kathleen Battle’s singing in Tannhäuser!
The mouth is gigantic. Titanic. Billowing gales of port or perhaps wine fortified with seriously sweet liqueur. It’s wine-y, Port-y, pot-y, pipe-y, and overwhelming. (But let’s be clear: It’s not porty-a-potty.) My tastebuds are sending so many signals along my nervous system that I sense the overload through multiple channels; my eyes are jangling in their sockets, my ears are curling up like a pair of potato bugs, and my propioceptive system is closing down to conserve the availability of calcium ions. Even through the storm, I detect a tiny hint of brine, as if a single appropriately-sized ocean wave somehow snuck into a fairly calm freshwater lake, lapped the shore, and left the barest smattering of salt, confusing the local microbiome.
The finish scours my taste buds, as if a stainless steel tongue scraper was wielded brutally, yet scalpel-like, by a Russian dental hygienist. The Port stays—the Port has made a home in my mouth and gives no indication of ever leaving. There’s a high marzipan/citrus note, too, as if the hygienist was simultaneously playing a piccolo with brio and panache. It’s like listening to select 1970s rock on headphones loud. (Frankenstein?) Gummy grizzly bears (lemon?) hybridized with monstrous gummy tardigrades (starfruit? persimmon?).
–Our thanks to The Exclusive Malts and ImpEx for the sample (and for this one, we received a 60 ml sample and loved it so much, we bought a full bottle for ourselves)!