The most notorious of whiskies? When a Facebook friend laughingly showed that he had found an open bottle of this ”classic”, I had to ask for a sample. I have always been of the opinion that all whiskies are interesting to try, even the really bad ones. It’s educational, isn’t it? Therefore, this 10 YO Mannochmore which apparently was launched in 1996 at 40% ABV has been on my bucket list for quite a while. And now, finally, it’s in my glass. What on earth have I gotten myself into?
On the nose: Hm… This does not have the nose of whisky at all. My first impression is Marmite. Then comes sawdust. A very closed nose at first: weird rather than the expected direct nastiness. More bitter than sweet, but after some time in the glass, whole tablespoons of powdered sugar appear, although the sweetness is almost synthetical. Some burnt wood; way back, a hint of a slightly rotting orange. It is so different and strange that all usual associations when tasting whiskies just don’t work at all. Despite this being a 10 YO, there is zero cask influence here, and zero alcohol. Just from the nose, there is no way I would have guessed that this is whisky, had I tasted it blind. Warm plastic; a hint of brine and a splash of cough medicine, and some tired mint. There are clear similarities to a concentrated an quite nasty iodine solution the bravest of Swedes gurgle when we get throat infections called Nyodex; I guess something similar exits in the English-speaking part of the world. However, that Marmite dominates the nose.
Palate: it all begins with a strangely insipid note, which is quickly followed by unpleasant burnt sensations, reminiscent of the odour of burning plastics; this then passes over into wet plywood. I sense literally zero alcohol, just this smudgy sweetness and a weird, woody bitterness. Plastics, again. Wet metal; even burning electric wires. There is zero fruit, zero vanilla, zero fudge. This is without the shadow of a doubt the worst whisky I have ever tasted. It has no redeeming qualities.
Finish: cough medicine; a sprinkle of weird synthetic mint; that concentrate from which you make instant coffee (are they called crystals, maybe?). There is a weird sweet note in the midst of it all. Then it all goes even further south, and turns into something which can only be described as disgusting: bitter and sickly sweet. If you would fry up ketchup in some rancid cooking oil at a very high temperature, this is what you would get. And just just when I am thinking that this cannot possibly get any worse, that Marmite note pops up again like a jack-in-the-box, utterly ruining an experience which I would have thought was impossible to further impair.
Conclusions: this whisky is an attack on the senses. That this was deemed fit for human consumption, bottled and sold is almost a crime. When this monstrosity was first released, the marketing story around it was that the colour was due to the whisky having been matured in casks which had been extra heavily charred. Errrrrr…no. I guess quite a few people may have been fooled by that obvious lie – in fact, I know of a knowledgeable man who put that statement into a very serious book about whisky. So, just in case there is any misunderstanding: heavily charred casks don’t turn whiskies black. The dhu in Loch Dhu – the black – is heaps and heaps of E150a and nothing more.
I never score whiskies, but for this one I’ll have to make an exception. Nose: the ”best” part of this whisky and if we’re being generous, how about 10 points? Palate: 1 point. Finish: 0 points (I know the scale goes from 1 to 25 for each part, but no, I refuse to give this finish even 1 point). Overall impression: 2 points. So, a score of 13/100, then. And that’s me being generous.
Thank you Bert, for agreeing to do a sample swap for this whisky. I am not regretting it. After all. I hope you will enjoy the 21 YO Rosebank!