Sunday, September 26, 2010

Imperial - a hidden gem ?

Imperial is shut down. It never had a lot of attention when it was running. It has never been regarded anything special by whisky entusiast

Duncan Taylor changed this for me.

Duncan Taylor is an independent bottler located in Huntly

They always wanted their own distillery and thought they were gonna purchase Imperial. The deal went off in the last minute. My theory is that Duncan Taylor was so sure of the deal that they had stocked up on Imperial casks.

Whatever is the truth, the fact is that Duncan Taylor has released quite a lot of Imperials the last few years. In the Duncan Taylor series, the Whisky Galore series, the NC2 series and also from their shop Single Malts Direct : the Whiskies of Scotland series.

I've been trying quite a few of these and most have been good, the rest excellent. The first eyeopener was when I tasted an 8 year old Imperial bottled under DT's Battlehill range, and since then I have been aware that here is something to look out for.

I would describe these Imperials as "simple" whiskies. Classic whiskies. Ex-bourbon casked whiskies. No wines, no peat, no small casks. Just plain good whisky at a young age. 

Imperial was mothballed by Allied Domecq in 1998 and when AD was acquired by Chivas in 2005 the deal with DT was mothballed together with the distillery.

1. Imperial 1997 13yo 56.4% Whisky Galore

Classic whisky nose, very ex-bourbon caskish :-), fresh and minty

Palate : Very minty, fullbodied and creamy, still very fresh

Finish : medium and very fresh, like a mint pastil

I like this. This is simple good whisky. It was correctly bottled at full strength. A nice dram. 

Rating 85

and thanks to Mark Watt of Duncan Taylor for introducing this gem to me :-) . Imperial is great value for money whisky, lets get some while no one else knows about it :-)


  1. I have a chance to try a Imperial 1989 20yo 58.9% #177 Blackadder Raw Cask in two weeks. Have you tried it?

  2. No, my experience is with younger Imperials aged 8-13. I need to dig into the older ones as well :-)

  3. Ok, thanks. If I try it I'll let you know how it was.

  4. I have some older Imperial IBs from Whyte&Whyte that are outstanding. If ever I am asked for an example of a whisky where the malt is the main star, I always pour one of those.

  5. Don't forget the Imperial G&MacP Cask Strength Series we had on Speyside Festival - that one was really nice :-)

  6. Had 2 at the Pot Still Festival:
    Signatory 1982 58.3%,powerful, malts and grass.
    G&M Reserve 1997 58.4%, can't remember this, only that it wasn't bad.