By Richard Thomas
William Grant & Sons premium House of Hazelwood blended Scotch whisky line has an art deco styling that would make set designers from the early seasons of Poirot proud. The 18 Year Old expression was modeled after the Parisian art deco, whereas the 21 Year Old is inspired by Mumbai of the 1920s, drawing on the interwar years of the British Raj. If Poirot were still in production, a bottle of this stuff would look perfect sitting behind the desk of some well-to-do fellow spinning yarns about his days in India.
But that is just looks. What about what the liquid in the bottle? In an era of disappearing age statements, this blend packs a hefty one, drawing heavily on Girvan and Kininvie whiskies.
Bottled at 40% ABV, in the glass the whisky has a clear golden coloring, with thick, heavy, runny legs.
The nose is airy with sherry-style fruitiness, marked by currents of mild oaky spices and candied vanilla. Initially I found the scent was very substantial, but with some air contact it lightened up considerably.
On the tongue, the liquid slides silkily across the mouth, and that silken texture carries a non-descript sweet flavor at first. After a short time on the palate, the flavor develops into a well-balanced mix of cinnamon and nutmeg on the one side, and raisins, dates and prunes on the other. The finish rolls off that sweet and spicy combination before evolving into a dry, spicy note, winding down with only the mildest warmth.
Three adjectives come to mind to describe this whisky: balanced, elegant and delicate. Although not altogether complicated, it is the sort of thing you want to be the sole focus of your attention as you sip on it. A whisky this gentle both merits and demands it, because you can’t possibly make the most of it over conversation or other distractions.
This travel retail-only release (for now) fetches £75 per 500 ml bottle.