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Wilson and Morgan Glen Elgin 30 Year Old Single Malt (1988)

Review: Glen Elgin 1988 – 30 Year Old Single Malt Whisky  (94.5/100)
Wilson and Morgan –  Cask #4319  (SKU W&M294 )
Review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published February 15, 2020

Wilson and Morgan is an independent bottler of Scotch Whisky based in Italy. The company was founded in 1992 by Fabio Rossi who also founded Rum Nation. Wilson and Morgan specialize in single grain and single malt whiskies which have been purchased by the barrel from selected Scottish distillers. The whisky barrels purchased range in age from 10 years to 30 years and are left to age (usually at the distillery where they were purchased) until they are ready to be bottled sometimes after they have been re-casked for finishing in port, rum or Marsala casks.

Wilson and Morgan Glen Elgin 30 Year Old Single Malt (1988) was distilled in 1988 and bottled in 2018. The whisky is part of Wilson and Morgan’s Special Release Barrel Selection of whiskies which don’t exactly neatly fit into their other range categories. Usually “one of a kind” encounters, these whiskies are unique but with no strict rules in terms of age, strength, type of casks and finishing.

The Glen Elgin Distillery (currently owned by Diageo) was the last distillery to be built during the boom years of the 1890s. The whisky produced at Glen Elgin is a key component of the White Horse brand, a blended whisky which is exported to over 200 countries worldwide

In the Bottle 4.5/5

A Thirty Year Old Whisky ought to be placed on a pedestal such that it commands attention on the retail shelf first, and then when it occupies a special place in your home bar second. And with the Glen Elgin 1988 – 30 Year Old we almost have everything done perfectly. I love the attractive display box and I like the stubby mid-sized cylindrical bottle with gold foil wrapped closure. There is enough information on the bottle to keep us intrigued, and both the bottle and display box contain the 30 year age statement.

Although I generally believe that most of this has been achieved, I have a few suggestions nonetheless. The first is that I find the size and the font of the 30 just doesn’t fit with the rest of the label. I’d like it to be just a little smaller perhaps so that it doesn’t dominate quite so much and perhaps in a fancier font to give the age statement a touch of class. At the same time I would like the distillery highlighted on the bottle label just a little more. I think these two changes would give more balance to the overall look of the presentation.

In the Glass 9.5/10

The Glen Elgin Whisky sort of sneaks up on you in the glass. I poured a small dram and began to inspect the colour (a nice amber on the way to copper) when the nose began to intrigue me. I have nosed more than a few whiskies of this age; but this is one which truly seems to act its age. There is a stateliness about it. Oak and butterscotch didn’t pour out immediately as they do with many aged cask strength whiskies, rather the scents in the glass seemed to take their time oozing into the breezes rather than rushing to greet me.

Old oak and leather chairs, damp old wood with sap leaking, and rich marzipan are all suggested. There is an intense fruitiness as well, reminiscent of Belgian tutti-frutti (typically a combination of dry raisins, currants, apricots, prunes, dates, and figs). Brighter citrus begins to appear within the breezes above the glass as well. Walnut, cocoa and firm hints of dark black coffee sweetened with rich brown sugar compliment the overall aroma which has become richer and fuller as I let the glass breathe. This one definitely grows in the glass.

In the Mouth 57/60

The taste of the 30 Year old whisky does not disappoint. Oak sap and a firm sherry character have wrapped around each other with neither one dominating, but neither one submitting to the other either. Dry fruit (raisin, apricots, prunes, and dates) and bright citrus flavours combine with fudgy chocolate and dark black coffee. I taste rich baking spices tinged with allspice, cinnamon and ginger.

Everything is in balance, and I just realized that I am sipping a 51.1 % abv. cask strength whisky with no sense that the alcohol is too much. As I let my glass sit, orange marmalade and dark brown sugar with vanilla takes form.

Everything is well with this dram!

In the Throat 14/15

The finish is full of Belgian tutti-frutti, dark chocolate, and spicy oak sap which coats the palate afterwards. The warm spiciness remains well after the swallow and my sample glass emptied much more quickly than I intended.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

I am not sure why I don’t hear more about Wilson and Morgan. I have sampled several of their expression now and none has disappointed me. Glen Elgin 1988 – 30 Year Old Single Malt Whisky is a great whisky which seems to have captured just the right moment when the sherry cask flavours within the malt had merged perfectly with the oak.

Very Highly Recommended!

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


As usual, 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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