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Adelphi Blended Scotch Whisky (Private Stock)

Review: Adelphi Blended Scotch Whisky  83.5/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 28, 2012

“Dancy Man” (Photo courtesy Adelphi Whisky all rights reserved!)

The Adelphi Distillery, was established by the Gray brothers, Charles and David in Glasgow, Scotland in 1826. The distillery grew and by 1886, it boasted a large Coffey still and four pot stills which were all in full production providing an output of 516,000 gallons of spirit per year. Despite its production, the distillery was a victim of rationalism in the early 1900s and ceased distilling spirits in 1907. The distillery was largely ignored for decades and its final destruction occurred in 1971 when the chimney came down. Fortunately the story of the Adelphi Distillery had not ended.

The Adelphi name was revived in 1993 by James Walker, who re-established the company as an independent bottler of Scotch Whisky. After 10 years of growth, the company had acquired a strong selection of whisky casks from various distillers in Scotland, and Mr Walker sold the company to Keith Falconer and Donald Houston in 2004. They had apparently approached Walker to buy a hogshead of whisky; but they wound up buying the entire company.

With Adelphi under new management, the wheel turned full circle. Global demand for Adelphi Whisky was so strong that the company made the decision to build a new distillery in Ardnamurchan, Scotland. This distillery is designed to be a ‘craft distillery’ powered and heated by local, renewable hydroelectricity, and woodchip from the surrounding forests. Once built, it will distill Scottish barley and feature its own malting and maturation facilities. The Ardnamurchan Distillery is slated open at the end of 2013.

Although Adelphi Distillers are primarily known for their selection of Single Cask Malt Whiskies, I have discovered that they also produce a fine blended whisky they call the Adelphi Private Stock. It is bottled at 40 % and is a blend of 4 grains combined with a high proportion of aged Single Malts from the west coast and the Speyside regions of Scotland. The whisky was originally knowns as “Granny’s Blend” because it was created for the grandmother of Adelphi’s previous owner, Jamie Walker.

The whisky was blended from a large selection of ‘blind’ samples with the final recipe being a closely guarded secret. Interestingly, the final blend is matured in a solera-style vat. Each time a quantity is drawn off for bottling, the vat is topped up with exactly the same blend of whiskies. This practice allows Adelphi to maintain a consistent flavour for each small batch bottling (each batch contains no more than 12,000 bottles).

I was given a bottle of this whisky by Thirsty Cellar Imports who are the importer of Adelphi Whisky here in Alberta.

SAM_0551 AdelphiIn the Bottle 4/5

As you can see from the picture to the right the Adelphi Blended Scotch arrives in a standard barroom style whisky bottle with a (synthetic) corked closure. The presentation is pretty standard fare for scotch whisky, the positive being that the bottle is bartender friendly in that it is easy store, easy to hold and easy to pour. The negative being that it really does not stand out in any way from the other blended whiskies in the liquor store. Another deterrent is that we have no tasting notes or indication of flavour profile upon the label. Given the wide range of flavour apparent in blended Scotch whisky, I would have preferred obvious tasting notes to guide me in my purchase decision.

A note about the Adelphi “Dancey Man” logo; it is taken from a mid 19th Century cartoon which shows William Gladstone, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, performing a joyful dance in celebration of a newly passed law which legislated that revenue could only be raised on the amount of whisky left in each cask after maturation, and not the level it was originally filled to. This effectively ended the heavy tax on well aged whisky, which in turn allowed distillers to produce a better style of whisky for their customers at a more affordable price.  (A fitting logo in my opinion.)

In the Glass 8.5/10

I poured the whisky into my glencairn glass noticed the whisky has a somewhat pale amber appearance. When I tilted the glass and gave it a slow twirl, a lighly oily sheen appeared on the inside of the glass with a crown that gave up tiny legs that drifted at a moderate pace downward. The nose was rather interesting with wood spices, some honey and butterscotch, perhaps a touch of heather and little dollop of boggy peat.

As I let the glass breathe I noticed some almond and vanilla, and a hint of canned fruit (peaches and pears). The spiciness reminds me of Speyside, and the boggy peat aroma reminds me of Islay (but much gentler than Islay can be).

In the Mouth 50/60

The entry into the mouth is smooth and unobtrusive. The whisky is sweet initially with tastes of butterscotch and honey. Some wood spices heat things up through the mid-palate although everything is softened by a light punch of late arriving boggy peat. There are of course many other nuances, almond and marzipan, canned fruit flavours which remind me of apricots, some very light echoes of sea brine, and a spiciness that builds up slightly as you take more sips.

My impulse is to add a little ice and soda to the glass, and the resulting hi-ball style drink is very enjoyable. I find the combination of flavours pleasing in a whisky which is light and does not appear to be very demanding of me.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The whisky finishes smooth with a light punch of peat complimented by a mildly sweet butterscotch and light wood spices.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

There really is nothing complicated about this. It is a nicely balanced whisky with flavours that mingle with each other rather than compete with each other. The result is a whisky with a smooth, lightly sweet, lightly spicy flavour profile. In particular, I appreciate the low impact of the boggy peat which serves as an accent upon the flavour rather than being the main event.

My Score of 83.5 reflects an easy-going whisky which is pleasant to sip and even more pleasant to mix.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe:

The Black Cove

1 1/2 oz  Adelphi Private Stock
1 oz Amaretto
Ice cubes
Dash of Angostura bitters
Ginger Ale
Lemon Slice

Pour the Whisky and the Amaretto over ice into a tall glass
Add a dash or two of bitters
Sir gently
Lengthen with Ginger ale
Garnish with a lemon slice

Please enjoy my cocktails  responsibly, the aim of my blog is to help your drink better spirits not to help you drink more spirits.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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