The nose on the Single Cask Nation Invergordon 45 Year Old 1974, 46.9abv opens with—holy crap! This is 45 years old???? And a grain whisky????? Let’s try this again. The nose opens with stewed prunes with albinism and baked lemon curd that’s been dribbled with aged balsamic vinegar luxuriating on a cedar plank. There’s also caramel and celeriac steeped in prune juice (non-albino) and bergamot tea. Interesting to me, at least, is that it lacks the marshmallow-y nose I associate with grain whiskies, even very old ones. Maybe the wood of this cask overwhelmed the distillate, because this noses like a single malt.
The mouth chews like the inside of Forrest Fenn’s Finally Found Treasure Chest. There’s gold, silver, coins, and pre-Columbian artifacts, mixed together and buried for more than 10 years in the wilds. Tannins, and a sherry-like dark rooty thing going on, too. The wood is overt, but not intrusive, like your third-wheel friend who’d always hang around with you and your special possum, but somehow makes things more natural and more fun. [Stephen and John: Bill! It’s POSSLQ, not possum!] Wait, am I That Guy? I don’t want to be That Guy! John, Stephen: Am I the Third Wheel? Anyways, there are also a veritable cornucopia of fruits: Grilled pineapple, unripe mangos, astringent persimmons.
The finish is long, layering, and throat-soothing like a good cough syrup. I got also penuche fudge and Stephen got burned almond paste used to seal the seams betwixt the gingerbread planks in a fairy tale house.
On the scale of concepts I learned from Samin Nosrat, the author (and star) of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat—
The Single Cask Nation Invergordon 45 Year Old 1974 Single Grain Whisky is the Korean word son-mat. Quoting Nosrat’s New York Times article:
A few days later, I remembered that Koreans have a word for the specific, irreplicable taste of someone’s cooking: son-mat. I called Peter and Mrs. Kim to ask them about it. “For my mom,” he said, “son-mat is composed of three things: experience, the passion of the individual and the knowledge gained from constant cooking. For her, it’s like a never-ending learning goal, like an art. She doesn’t use measuring cups or a scale when she makes kimchi.
Specific, irreplicable, passion, knowledge, experience, never-ending learning goal? Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, yup. That’s the Invergordon 1974 in six nutshells.
–Our thanks to Jess Lomas and Single Cask Nation for the sample!