Following the Secret Speyside 1994, another bottling from Les Grands Alambics found its way to our glass – an Old Rhosdhu 1990. Back in the ’70s through the ’90s, Old Rhosdhu was distilled using their straight-neck pot stills (for further insights, refer to our review of a Croftengea, also bottled by LGA). It’s worth noting that Rhosdhu presently denotes their single grain whisky range, a departure from its historical identity. However, for now, let’s return to the 1990s with this Old Rhosdhu 1990.
Old Rhosdhu 1990 Les Grands Alambics Review
This Old Rhosdhu was distilled in 1990 and matured for 30 years in a hogshead before being bottled in 2020 by Les Grands Alambics. Presented at cask strength (48.9% ABV), the whisky retains its natural colour and has not undergone chill filtration. Merely 96 bottles were filled from this particular hogshead. Whilst it’s evident that the release has since sold out, its initial recommended retail price was a very reasonable €219.
Neat: The nose reveals a presence of overripe apricots and bananas, accompanied by notes of pineapple and orange, all subtly coated with a layer of vanilla. Tangerine also emerges. Some herbaceous notes are here as well, with pine sap, accompanied by an almost imperceptible hint of menthol and the essence of eucalyptus. I can also identify a touch of dusty sandalwood.
With water: After reduction, the nose experiences a heightened sensation of prickliness, followed by a progression towards a slightly dusty character. As the transformation continues, fragrances of mango and guava come to the forefront.
Neat: Upon sipping neat, the palate encounters elements of dust, apricot, pineapple, and orange. Intertwined with these fruity impressions are discernible wood tannins, a hint of coffee, a touch of ginger, and a mildly prickly sugary sensation. A subtle chalky note also emerges. The overall taste profile highlights a noticeable degree of sourness and woodiness, potentially leaning slightly towards intensity. Strangely, the mouthfeel feels a bit ashy. Spent black tea leaves.
With water: Reduction minimises the ashy characteristic and adds pepper.
The finish is long and warm, marked by citrus and wood, grapefruit and an abundance of dark chocolate.
This Old Rhosdu 1990 from Les Grands Alambics is superb – especially with its nose, truly captivating. Whilst the palate leans towards intensity with a touch more wood than I’d prefer, this remains an exceptional whisky overall. Congratulations to the fortunate individuals who managed to secure one of these scarce 96 bottles.
Thank you Max! Bottle photo courtesy of Whiskybase, though the photo itself comes from Les Grands Alambics themselves anyway.