Sunday 13 March 2016

Tasted #265: 1938 The Macallan (Macallan-Glenlivet) 31yo

Following the 1959 Macallan 18yo tasted recently at the Dragon8 Hong Kong auction comes this much older (in both senses of the word) 1938 Macallan-Glenlivet 31yo - a pre-WW2 Macallan!

Being distilled in 1938 and bottled in 1969 by Gordon & Macphail (also for the Italian market) makes this whisky positively geriatric - distilled 78 years ago! Not the earliest whisky we've tried here (having tried a mid-1930s White Horse last year at Singapore's Auld Alliance), but certainly the earliest bottle of single malt.

Last time we saw this bottle at auction it sold for just over $2,000USD (approx $16k HKD), but it's fair to say it would probably command more than that today, especially in Macallan-crazy Hong Kong. Just look at the 1950 Fine & Rare we saw sell for $170k recently at auction and this 42yo Macallan bottled in 1969, for almost £10,000 (approx $110,000k).

Now sure this is an indie bottling (like the aforementioned 42yo), and not one of the famous "Fine and Rare" series, but regardless, what an experience!

1938 The Macallan 31yo - A Pure Highland Malt Scotch Whisky (43% ABV, 31yo, bottled by Gordon & Macphail for the Italian market, Highlands, Scotland, try your luck at auction)

Colour: Copper

Nose: Smooth, light. Plenty of sherry influence, but with fruitier undertones than you usually expect from Macallan - cranberries, lots of strawberries.

Palate: Light. Quite a bit lighter than the colour would usually suggest. There's a citrusy fizziness, some strong peach characteristics, a hint of mocha orange and some toffee. On the whole though it feels just a little thin, which suggests there might be a little oxidation happening. It's not off-putting and we've tasted more heavily oxidised bottles, but it suggests this bottle is, to a small degree, a shadow of its former self.

Finish: Shortish, soft and smooth. Inoffensive, pleasant and delicious, with lingering peach and toffee notes, although as with the palate, it seems like the finish may have been better when this bottle was younger. 

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. An incredible experience and an enjoyable whisky, but we can't help but wonder how it would have been as a fresh bottle. 
To be fair though, to make it to 78 years old and still have this much character is an impressive feat (we should be so lucky)!


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