This is an exciting post! Its not everyday that you receive a 60 year old whisky in the post, and that’s probably for several reasons. Firstly its quite rare, being rather old, and secondly it is usually massively expensive; for reasons why, see the first reason. This whisky is a bit different though – it is still old (it has to be), but it isn’t massively expensive. Granted it isn’t cheap’ but on the face of it £999.95 represents remarkable value for a 60 year old Speysider.
The other reason that this whisky is exciting is a personal one. Being 60 years old and bottled very recently it therefore follows that it was distilled in 1954 – the year my mum was born. Also the whisky was released in March 2014 which means that it was distilled in early 1954 and probably very early 1954 when you consider that it had to be bottled, distributed etc etc in 2014 once it had turned 60. My mum’s birthday is on 8th January so there must be a slim chance that this whisky was distilled on the very day she was born – now that’s exciting (and must be worth another sample or two – Ben?)
Regardless of that, what you’re actually interested in is if it is any good? Age is not a sign of quality, and indeed lack of age is not an abscence of it. One my travels to Islay I have tried a 1966 Lagavulin straight from the cask. It is, to put it blunty, off – the barrel attracts people due to its age and that is why it is there – it is not there as a representative example of the frankly excellent whisky Lagavulin produce. Anyway back to the job in question; this whisky is from an unnamed distillery in Speyside and is bottled at 42.2%.
This is a whisky that benefits from some time in the glass to allow it to fully open up and release its bouquet. On the nose I found bananas, a touch of wood (as expected after 60 years in oak), and some fresh lemon juice. As the spirit opened it smelt like a fresh rose garden at the height of spring mixed in with some mint leaves and a creamy top note. A touch of spice in the form of a slightly faded star anise came through too before I was left with that kind of post thunderstorm kind of scent.
The palate was silky and soft. There was a lovely balanced heat mixed in with the sweetness of cherry sauce and crisp green apples. I totally got what Ben was talking about with tomato stems; for me it was that back of the mouth taste as you wall into a well sprouted greenhouse – it just sits there at the back of the throat. The whisky was gentle and just enveloped the mouth, it was like a well layered and properly made curry – there was a touch of spice and the flavours built over time and remained forever.
The finish was very savoury and vegetal. Amazingly it was still very fresh after all of these years and there was a definite mint note as the spirit faded away.
This is a classy and complex whisky that has aged magnificently, and while its not an everyday purchase at just under £1000 it does represent a more affordable opportunity to try a spirit distilled in the 1950’s and matured for 60 years. Hats off to the chaps at Master of Malt for this superb release – the pressure is now on as we wait to see what you have that will better this!
Available now from Master of Malt here.