Saturday 31 March 2018

Tasted #386: The Last Drop 1971 45 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky (45yo)

Back in 2016 I spent an evening at Angel's Share, meeting the lovely Rebecca and Beanie from The Last Drop Distillers, learning of their family's incredible links to the drinks business and tasting their latest release at the time, the 50 Year Old 'Double Matured' Blended Scotch (full article here). It was an absolutely fantastic whisky (easily one of the best blends I've ever had), as was the 48year old I'd tried a bit earlier.

Fast forward just over two years, and I found myself back at the same spot, catching up with the team (Rebecca and Cecily) and trying their latest release...which I'd expected to consist solely of whisky, but was pleasantly surprised to see comprised not only the whisky (1971 Blended Scotch Whisky, a 45yo blend), but also...

Fair to say I didn't expect to be trying my oldest ever distilled spirit (70yo), and oldest ever wine (148yo) on that random Tuesday evening, but I wasn't about to complain!

The 70 year old, 1947 Cognac was incredibly fresh and vibrant, without any overbearing oak (and with many complex notes, including fresh vegetation, lemon pie, cloves, spicy grapefruit peel, apricot preserve and mince pies), whilst the 1870 port was quite different to the 100 Year old Australian Tawny tasted a few years back, particularly in colour, being a bright red copper, and showing notes of toffee, spice and red berries. Not overly sweet or cloying at all, and just really, really drinkable (as was the 48 year old 1970 port that accompanied it).

Of course, this is a whisky blog, so my main focus was on the whisky, which was first blended in 1983 as an ex-Bourbon 12yo for the US. After bottling, the remaining blend was refilled into 11 ex-Oloroso butts, and after 9 years some more was siphoned off to be bottled as a 21yo.

What remained was refilled again, into nine ex-American Oak barrels, where they lay in a dunnage warehouse for another 24 years, until they'd reached 45yo.

So in summary: ex-Bourbon (for 12 years), ex-Oloroso (for 9 years), then ex-Bourbon (for 24 years), bottled in 2017, with 1,352 bottles available.

The Last Drop "1971 Blended Scotch Whisky" (47.2% ABV, 45yo, Blend, Scotland, One of 1,352 bottles, £2,500ex-VAT)
Colour: Burnished copper-orange.

Nose: Sweet and fruity initially - almost Cognac-like. Quite nutty too, then some baked pear and pecan pie emerges, but the nuttiness remains at the forefront.

Palate: Just as fruity as the nose - green apples at first, then a slightly citrus (orange) note, then lots of spice. Treacle / toffee sweetness follows, with some banana bread and stewed apricots too.

Finish: Long length, with lots of spice and some oak. Almost rye-like on the finish! 

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. A very enjoyable whisky and one that's obviously taken on a lot of different and interesting notes from it's "triple maturation" over the years!


Many thanks to Rebecca and Cecily for visiting HK and sharing their wonderful products with us again.

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Experiencing The Singleton of Glen Ord Sensorium

Tonight The Singleton launched a first in Hong Kong - The Singleton of Glen Ord "Sensorium", opening to the public this coming Thursday at the Taste of Hong Kong festival.

"What's a Sensorium" you might be wondering?

Think of it as a giant mash tun, in which guests sit around a circular table, tasting The Singleton (Glen Ord 12, 15 and 18yo), surrounded by 360˚ video projections showcasing the distillery and other projections designed to both heighten and challenge the senses.

"Sight" and "taste" aren't the only senses covered, of course. "Hearing" is covered by speakers around the room projecting the sounds of the distillery and its Highlands environment, whilst "touch" is covered by a container of barley and "smell" is taken care of thanks to special jets pumping out aromas of malted barley and other notes you might find in the whiskies.

The launch included a sneak preview of the sessions to be held over the 4 day festival, led by Ervin Trykowski, The Singleton Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador.

The 15 minute session opened with Ervin's golden rule - that he should never speak for more than 5 minutes without allowing guests a dram (sounds good to us), and before we knew it we were nosing and tasting The Singleton of Glen Ord 12yo, finding it's fruity, apple/pear nose and it's sweet, juicy green apple palate. 

As an example of how our perception of smell and taste can be influenced by external factors, Ervin changed the projection to the image below - designed to invoke thoughts of sweetness...and I'd be lying if I said it didn't subtly change my thoughts on the whisky for a brief moment (bringing out a sweeter, more red apple like note).

Whilst the session was rapid, Ervin did manage to touch on the production process, pointing out a few interesting facts about Glen Ord, like its use of 100% on-site malted barley, and its 11 million litres per annum production capacity (operating 24/7).

The most interesting part for me however was how external factors like smell and sight can influence the way we taste, and in that regard, the 15 minute session delivered in spades. 

Whilst hardcore whisky geeks may not learn anything new about the whiskies or their production, you may just learn something about how you perceive taste / smell, and how your senses interact in a unique environment.

The Singleton of Glen Ord Sensorium is open from Thurs 22nd March to Sun 25th March at the Taste of Hong Kong festival. Tickets are $188HKD (which includes entry to Taste, usually $150 on its own), available from Ticketflap.


Tuesday 13 March 2018

Glenfiddich 1977 40yo "Rare Collection" Launch (Tasted #385)

Glenfiddich, in partnership with Heinemann Tax & Duty Free, has released the prestigious Glenfiddich 1977 Rare Collection Cask (cask 15176). Aged for 40 years in an American Oak Refill Hogshead single cask, this special single cask release forms part of the Glenfiddich Rare Collection Programme and is exclusive to the Heinemann stores at both, Sydney and Kuala Lumpur airports.

Brian Kinsman; Glenfiddich Malt Master noted that "This is an exceptional whisky of rare character and complexity. Only a small number of casks are chosen for the Rare Collection and I am delighted to have selected this particular whisky for consumers to enjoy.” The rarity is certainly true given the single cask nature of this particular release and the quality of casks available at this particular age profile.

The launch of the Rare Cask in Sydney was held at Kittyhawk, and saw the Rare Cask presented with other prized Glenfiddich releases including the 21yo, 25yo and 30yo. Each of the malts was paired alongside delectables including a Glenfiddich based Fizz cocktail (based on the 15yo Glenfiddich), rye cured salmon and steak tartare.

Being a big fan of Glenfiddich, the night was truly special and dram-tastic for me. I still remember my early whisky days with the likes of Glenfiddich 12yo, 18yo, Select Cask and even a Cathay Pacific exclusive Glenfiddich I had at Martin's. The continuation of this relationship on the night with the Rare Cask and the other priced releases was an exciting one.

Led by William Grant & Son’s brand ambassadors; Ross Blainey and Glenfiddich's new Ambassador Luke Sanderson, the unveiling of the exclusive 40yo Rare Cask focused on the rarity and balanced, delicate nature of the malt. The 30yo and the Rare Cask were presented neat and left to bask in its own glory. 

Glenfiddich "Reserve Cask" (Cask:  (40% ABV, 40yo, Speyside, Scotland, $4,352 AUD)
An elegant, soft, subtle and balanced yet not tired or over oaked (given the age) Glenfiddich that takes its profile from the refill hogshead. The flavour profile is true to Glenfiddich with the hint of apples though very, very delicate. For a 40yo, the malt packs quite complex and layered nose and palate. It will certainly not disappoint those who choose to daydream away with a dram of this malt at hand.

Colour: Gold

Nose: Riddled with summer fruits including fresh peach and apples. There is a layer of sweetness resembling some raisins and Turkish delight.

Palate: The palate is balanced with some spiced apple, a bit of Portuguese tart with cinnamon dusting that fades into soft, perfumed flower notes.

Finish: The finish is slightly sweet and dry with gentle lingering cinnamon spice.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100.

This 1977 40yo "Rare Cask Collection" has been bottled exclusively for Heinemann Tax & Duty Free and is available from Sydney and Kuala Lumpur airports for $4,352AUD and is limited to 150 bottles.

Thanks to William Grant & Sons and Agent 99 for having us at the launch.