The nose of this cask strength Highland is bright and pretty with aromas of honey, heather, dried orchard fruits, sweetened oats and raw Brazil nuts. The palate has good weight and texture with ginger cookies, orchard fruits, cream soda and a savory quality give way to honey and light spice on the finish. D&M Tasting Notes
Distilled:August 21, 1995. Bottled: July 13, 2015. Cask #50195 249 Bottles 49.8% ABV Cask Strength Selected and Bottled for D&M
This bottling, from a now defunct distillery that stood for over a century on the banks of the River Spey: Imperial. The history of Imperial starts with a different focus versus the average. While most distilleries are named after a geographic feature, water source or a long gone clan, Imperial was named and imagined as a forward looking enterprise: for Queen, for Country, to serve the whole of the empire. The distillery was founded in 1897 by Thomas MacKenzie, who decided to honor Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee that same year by naming his new distillery in homage to the breadth of the Commonwealth. Thomas was not a new operator upon Imperial’s launch; he had ample experience in the distillery business with a hand in running Dailuaine and Talisker. What Mr. MacKenzie and his company did not have was a sharp sense of timing— within two years of its opening, the Pattison whisky crisis forced its closure before the dawn of the 1900's
The buildings of Imperial were made up of red Aberdeen brick with an iron frame to mitigate the risk of fire. This fear came to be unfounded, but it did make for a quite solid structure that could wait out the extended periods of time that Imperial would sit idle through the twentieth century. In fact, after being in operation for only two years, Imperial was mothballed until 1915 when it was reopened by a murderer’s row of Scotch conglomerates with Distillers Company Limited, WP Lowrie, Johnnie Walker, and Dewar’s all having ownership stakes. After a retrofit, production began in 1919, following the easing of grain restrictions that had been in place during World War I. Distillers Company Limited bought out its fellow consortium members in 1925 and within the year ended the production of whisky at Imperial yet again. Imperial remained used for its floor maltings by DCL.
Imperial remained silent and still as the empire it was named for faded until it was reopened and refurbished by Scottish Malt Distillers in 1955. Imperial then enjoyed its longest period of activity remaining open until 1985, when it was shut once again. In 1989 Allied Distillers took their turn in Imperial’s ownership, running it until 1998.
It was within this last period of activity that this bottling was produced. The water for this malt did not come from the River Spey on whose bank the distillery is situated, but rather from the Ballintom Burn, located two and a half miles away. The water traveled by gravity from the hills to the distillery. The spirt was a product of one of the four stills on site. It was the destruction of the stills that may have sealed Imperial’s fate; the new owners at Chivas Brothers decided to demolish the buildings at Imperial in 2012.
While most of the history at Imperial is somewhat depressing, there is new hope on the bank of the River Spey. A year ago Chivas finished building a new distillery on the site of Imperial overseen by a gentleman by the name of Douglas Cruickshank. Douglas got his start in the whisky business at age 15 at Imperial and had a vested interest in ensuring this new distillery would do well by both the community and by whisky lover’s the world over. So while Imperial may be no more, Chivas’ new distillery, Dalmunach, will look to continue the tradition of distilling for years to come. Michael Kennel, D&M
Imperial 19 YR Signatory Bottling Single Malt Scotch Whisky
- Brand: Imperial
- Availability: In Stock
- Quantity Available: 69
- SKU #: 3733