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

July 31, 2018


More very old blends

And so we’re back with a few more old blends. Let’s see what we have…

Black Bottle (no ABV stated, OB, blend, +/-1947)

Black Bottle (no ABV stated, OB, blend, +/-1930) Four stars
This was bottled at ‘pre-war strength’ as it says on an additional label, that’s why we think this was bottled after WWI. What's more it was one of the first ever bottlings to feature a ‘twist n seal’ screw cap, after white horse first used it in 1925 (many thanks for all the info Angus!) Never tried some extremely old Black Bottle, the oldest we had had been bottled circa 1970 (WF 82). Colour: gold. Nose: perhaps not as peaty as more recent offerings (not talking about the current simpler ones) but it does have these ‘oldish’ notes of leather, old cigars than went dry, dried mushrooms, old books, before it gets clearly peaty. Some chicken soup, as often, and something slightly metallic. Old tin boxes, chalk, old magazines, inks… All those sorts of things that one may find in very old high-malt blends. Mouth: it’s really powerful, and frankly wonderful, with some marmalade, pine liqueurs, camphory concoctions, pepper liqueurs, old herbal liqueurs (Dantziger and others), salt, smoke, coal, meat, miso… This could have been 100% malt, seriously. Finish: rather long, more honeyed and resinous, which isn’t uncommon in old whiskies. I’m finding something of Lagavulin (which gives me an idea…) A little green tar or something in the aftertaste. Comments: very high-class old blend with high malt content, and probably high peat content as well, even if a part of that may have disappeared throughout the seventy years in glass.
SGP:463 - 87 points.

So, speaking of Lagavulin and ideas…

White Horse (43%, OB, spring cap, blend, Soffiantino, Italy, +/-1960)

White Horse (43%, OB, spring cap, blend, Soffiantino, Italy, +/-1960) Five stars
These are perfect, first because the spring cap a.k.a. tin cap a.k.a. clip cap a.k.a. Kork-n-Seal a.k.a. nail breaker may have kept it fresh as new, and second because most were bottled at 40% vol./70°proof, while this is 43%. In retrospect, thank you, Italy! Colour: gold. Nose: pure peated malt, really, with just touches of roasted pine nuts and dark tobacco. Dried kelp, tar, peat smoke, leather, bandages, creosote, hessian, tarry ropes, seawater, whelks (we’re sorry, whelks), metal polish (but that could be the tin cap, which was perfect by the way, no corrosion to be spotted)…

Mouth: you could have told me this was old Lagavulin and I wouldn’t have cried foul. Perfect tarry peat, some kind of old toothpaste, tar liqueur, drops of triple-sec and other orange-y liqueurs, liquorice, salt, salted liquorice (obviously), kippers, rollmops, pine tar… The body’s quite impressive, really, these old 43s taste like 46, easily. Finish: long, really tarry and resiny. Notes of salty/smoky mezcal in the aftertaste, always a good sign in my book. Comments: really impressive, these old White Horses. What’s more, it’s not totally impossible that there was some Malt Mill inside as well…
SGP:364 - 91 points.



Prewar ad for White Horse. >

So, spring caps…

Buchanan’s ‘De Luxe’ (70°proof, OB, spring cap, blend, +/-1955)

Buchanan’s ‘De Luxe’ (70°proof, OB, spring cap, blend, +/-1955)
I haven’t formally tried many Buchanan’s, but always enjoyed the old ones when having then ‘casually’. These aren’t too expensive at auctions because they should come with red wax seals on their sides, which are often missing or broken, which makes them rather uncollectable, which is good for drinking buyers! Colour: gold. Nose: not as smoky as the White Horse, obviously, but on the other hand it’s got some lovely honeyed and cake-y notes, as well as a large bouquet of flowers. Pollen, nectar, iris, orange blossom, old Sauternes, honeysuckle, pineapple jam, a box of assorted Turkish delights… Really, a lovely nose that reminds me of one of Diageo’s current top-shelf blends, Royal Household. But that’s one by Buchanan’s indeed… Mouth: sadly, it went a tad dry and too leathery, but provided you manage to filter-out those OBE notes, which anyone could do once you recognise them, you get this rather perfect honeyed profile, as well as the dried figs and dates. But yeah, bottle aging ran it off the road, which you couldn’t notice on the nose. Finish: short, soapy and too dry. Comments: look, I’m sure I would have gone for 88-90, had time in glass not taken its toll. Indeed, buying old bottles can be like playing Russian roulette. Beware!
SGP:351 - (no score) points.

The Antiquary ‘Old Scotch Whisky’ (No ABV, OB, J&W Hardie, blend, driven cork, +/-1930s)

The Antiquary ‘Old Scotch Whisky’ (No ABV, OB, J&W Hardie, blend, driven cork, +/-1920s) Five stars
Driven corks were usually pre-1930s (thanks again, Angus!) Recent (I mean, from within the last 30 years) young Antiquaries have been a little ‘low’ but I remember a very recent 35 yo that was superb (WF 90). Colour: gold. Nose: and this is superb indeed, wonderfully honeyed and mentholy. Chestnut honey, some toasted brioche, a whiff of fir smoke, pumpkin cake, a large bag of sultanas, a wee glass of proper old PX, a touch of absinth… and all that sings in sync, mind you!

Mouth: incredible arrival, still very punchy and vibrant, smoky (imagine!), with perfect resinous notes, many honeys, some tobacco, then an avalanche of dried fruits (figs as always, bananas, currants) and a discreet minerality that’s just underlining the whole package. Perfect old whisky, really perfect. Finish: long, mainly honeyed, with notes of fresh mint leaves and pine needles. The aftertaste is a tad bitter (leafy) but that’s an asset in this context. Comments: very much impressed. This driven-cork version just rocked, watch it at auctions, I think they don’t go for a lot of monies.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Antiquary Ungerer

^Ad for The Antiquary by Alsatian Tomi Ungerer, USA 1961

(Thank you Angus, Nicolas, and Ron)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all blends we've tasted so far






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