One of the key hallmarks of older style single malts is the elusive characteristic we call 'waxiness'. It can manifest as a flavour, or a group of flavours that includes minerality, spiciness and medicinal phenols, but also as an impression of texture and mouthfeel.
Older-style distillates made using floor-malted barley, longer ferments and direct-fired distillation often display this rare, waxy profile – a style which eludes many contemporary malts. The unifying feature of all these whiskies is their extraordinary quality and a consistently beautiful expression of waxiness in single malt.
Show founders Sukhinder Singh, Jonny McMillan and Angus MacRaild will be joined by The Whisky Exchange ambassador Billy Abbott, Roe and Co head distiller Lora Hemy and whiskyfun.com creator Serge Valentin.
Glen Ord 30 Year Old from the Diageo Special Releases 2003, 58.7%
Angus MacRaild – This is a modern-era classic and one of my all-time favourites from the Special Releases series. Old-style Glen Ord can display powerfully full-bodied, waxy and fruity highland style character – indeed, its distillate in these vintages was not so dissimilar to that of Clynelish. Still underrated to this day, this beautiful single malt is – to my mind – the perfect illustration of waxiness in whisky.
Clynelish 1972 24 Year Old Rare Malts, 61.3%
Jonny McMillan – If one says ‘waxy whisky', I believe most whisky nerds immediately think of Clynelish, and for me the 1972 Rare Malts is one of the most iconic bottlings from this fan-favourite distillery. It's been years since I've tried this bottling, but I still remember it brimming with waxy honey notes – a superlative example of early-70s’ Clynelish.
Balblair 40 Year Old Single Malts of Scotland, 42.8%
Sukhinder Singh – This came from one of three casks of Balblair 1969 that I purchased back in the early 2000s. I married two casks and bottled them under my Anniversary Selection label and released the other cask as part of the Single Malts of Scotland banner a few years later. It was the first time I had tried such old Balbair and loved the rich fruits with the waxy notes. This was bottled just in time, as there is an element of old wood that could have become too dominant with more time in the cask.
Balvenie 1974 15 Year Old Signatory, bottled from a marriage of casks, 57.1%
Angus MacRaild – This bottling has flown under the radar for many years, but it is of stunning quality. Not many people tend to think of Balvenie as waxy, but the 1974 vintages – and some earlier examples – frequently displayed the profile. This bottling has it in spades, and I think it is one of the very best of the 1974-vintage Balvenies. A superb illustration of old-style, distillate-driven waxiness in Scotch whisky.
Convalmore 1962 31 Year Old Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, 48.9%
Jonny McMillan – Perhaps the most underrated of the closed distilleries, I think Convalmore is a truly remarkable dram that shows the best of waxy 1960s' character. This bottle is from The Perfect Collection of Richard Gooding – a recent high-profile auction – and having tried a sister cask bottled at 46%, I was very keen to get my hands on this bottle. I'm really excited to try it!
Clynelish 12 Year Old Distillery Bottling, Red/Green Label, bot.1980s, 57%
Sukhinder Singh – Clynelish is another love of mine and I have many great bottles in my stash. I have tried most of the older versions of the 12-year-old except this rare expression with a bright red and green label. Similar to the Gordon and MacPhail label but this is actually a distillery bottling. Clynelish is the daddy of waxiness so I am quite excited to try this.
Glen Ord 30yo Diageo Special Releases 2005, 58.7%
Clynelish 1972 24YO Rare Malts, 61.3%
Balblair 40YO Single Malts of Scotland, 42.8%
Balvenie 1974 15YO Signatory, 57.1%
Convalmore 1962 31YO Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, 48.9%
Clynelish 12YO Red & Green Label, bot.1980s, 57%