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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

March 19, 2014


Very old and even older are on a boat…

With whisky, there are two numbers that anyone can understand and that are seminal, so to speak, its age and its price. Granted, many distillers keep arguing that age doesn’t matter anymore (now that they haven’t got any old whisky left). Well, in truth and as Pete & Jack already noticed, age doesn’t matter when the whisky is young and does when it’s old. But of course! Others seem to think that there’s a sucker born every minute and that regarding prices, the sky is the limit. And then some believe in both. No age, higher prices! We can always predict that those might be in for a rude awakening, but as always, forecasters are the first to be proven wrong once the future becomes the present. Who knows? What’s sure is that a handful of brands and bottlers are trying to seize those opportunities to build-up attention and customer goodwill by actually lowering some prices. Glenfarclas did it first with their 40yo at £250, G&M have many very old Speysiders at fair prices as well, and now Master of Malt is in as well with a brand new 60 yo at… less that £1,000. Others would sell it for £5,000 and others yet for £10,000 if not more – granted, with a distillery’s name - but then again, maybe this 60 years old is just a very tired and flattish old whisky, in that case not even £300 would be a fair price. So let’s simply try this new baby and see what gives, just after a nice little aperitif of (almost) similar age…

Glen Grant 56 yo 1955 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, decanter, +/-2011)

Glen Grant 56 yo 1955 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, decanter, +/-2011) Four stars An arch classic bottling by G&M. Colour: amber. Nose: bang! Instant, implacable pleasure with just anything that’s to be expected from a great very old whisky, minus excessive woody notes. Quince jelly, figs, raisins, bergamots or earl grey tea, orange blossom, touches of menthol and camphor, some honey, sandalwood, cigar humidor, leather polish, liquorice, a little incense… All is perfect, just the menthol might suggest the palate will be oakier and dry, but I’m not sure… Mouth: well, it’s the kind of oak that works just like welcome spices, especially cinnamon. It’s a little dry, and sure it hasn’t got a huge body, but this blend of chocolate, orange zests and raisins works very well. The whole isn’t as exhilarating as this baby’s nose, but again it works and it’s very pleasant. I find more and more mead. Finish: a little short but clean and not overly drying. More oranges. Comments: its nose is this baby’s main asset, while the rather drying and slightly thin palate is no serious handicap. Lovely old thing… SGP:461 - 87 points.

Speyside 60 yo (42.5%, Master of Malt, First Edition, single malt, 2014)

Speyside 60 yo (42.5%, Master of Malt, First Edition, single malt, 2014) Five stars The distillery’s not disclosed, which doesn’t obligatorily mean it’s Glenfarclas. Hold on, does what you just wrote make any sense, Serge? Colour: amber with bronze hues. Nose: it’s drier, more humussy, more musty than the Glen Grant. I find more hay, more bark, more dried mushrooms, as well as several kinds of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, perhaps chestnuts… Then a little menthol again, as well as various herbal teas. Thyme, for example, or fennel. Then more and more tea, from earthy ones pu-erh style to complex green ones such as, say Longjing. These herbal notes may imply that the palate will be quite, err, green and tannic, but not sure, let’s see… Mouth: it is a little tannic, but we’re way, way below the limits. What’s more, the fruity part is big enough to make the oak almost trivial. There is some orange liqueur or curaçao, drops of crème de menthe, a good spoonful of apricot jam, tarte tatin and caramelised apples, then more Demerara sugar (but it’s no big candied whisky), cinnamon cake, orange marmalade… The spices are becoming a little more boisterous after half a minute, especially the peppery side, some caraway too, but it remains a smooth dram globally. Finish: medium length. Some peppermint sauce on orange zests and white pepper. A drop of cough syrup. Comments: not that I have tried many dozens of 60yo+ whiskies, but they usually tend to be a little fragile and kind of shaky/too drying. Not quite the case here, which is a kind of miracle in my opinion. So great whisky, all it’s lacking is a name – but then it would be much more expensive, wouldn’t it. I guess you cannot have it both ways. SGP:561 - 90 points.


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback







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