Moved and renamed, rescued and preserved, Inchgower became more than just a distillery for its founders and his loyal workers. It was an idea – a reaction to increasing land prices, and a commitment to Single Malt Scotch Whisky – and one of the only distilleries to inspire a poem. Originally known as Tochieneal, the distillery was built near Cullen, by local factor, Alexander Wilson. His nephew - confusingly called Uncle Sandy - built a thriving business, but was forced to suspend operations in 1870, when a doubling of the rent made the small premises uneconomic to operate. A move to the coast where the rent was lower, and Inchgower was born 1871. Men who spent their working lives there recorded the move in the poem “Tochieneal”. Inchgower remained in the Wilson family until 1929, but had to be saved from receivership by the local council during the troubled 1930s. Happily, acquisition by Arthur Bell & Sons in 1938 secured its future, and – aside from an expansion to accommodate two more stills in 1966 – the buildings are largely unchanged to this day.
Inchgower 14 Year Old has a deep amber colour. The aromas you will find are rich, deep and faintly toffied. After a while offers some short-crust pastry and fruit, like greengage tart or damson pie. Then it settles and becomes lighter and vaguely 'gun-metal' - a mix of metal, gun oil and cordite, but all very faint. With water it freshens up, but gives little away. For a time there is an unmistakable scent of horse chestnuts - green and nutty - but after a while it becomes much sweeter and more floral, like acacia honey. The palate is medium bodied and mouth filling with flavours that are sweet overall, but also curiously mouth-drying, with some salt and traces of oil. The finish leads you to an aftertaste of bitter almonds.
This whisky presents you with a conundrum, in which the aromatics, and even the flavour, change continually. It seems to be more coastal than Speyside. Dry, crisp and even salty – Inchgower lends itself to sweet foods, and pairs particularly well with chocolate truffles or even a cheeseboard.