I feel I’ve been extremely lucky since I decided to start this blog charting my experience in the whisky world, I’ve met some amazing people who have been most generous with there time and advice. They’ve also introduced me to Steve at The Whisky Wire and his Tweet Tastings and I have been very fortunate to be involved in a fair few of these this year. Now I feel privileged every time I get the message from Steve saying I’m involved in the upcoming tasting events, but when I received the message I was going to be involved in the G&M Rare Vintage tasting on the 16/11/16. Well I was like a kid been told they were getting the keys to a sweet shop to play in. I had a grin from ear to ear and felt all giddy inside.
Then we were teased with what we would be getting to sample, something from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s. Now my twitter timeline was awash with excited whisky lovers guessing what would be received, everyone including myself was like a small child on Christmas Eve waiting to find out what we had been given. This was going to be special and epic, I was one of the lucky ones who was going to sample history in beautiful amber liquid form.
The samples turned up the Saturday before the tasting and when I saw what we had been sent, well it took a huge amount of resistance on my behalf not to open them straight away. I was looking at single malts I never thought I’d get to try in my life and will probably never get to try again. The youngest was distilled in 1985 and the oldest was distilled in 1954. I was older than one sample the same age as one and younger than the other three. this was something I didn’t think I’d ever get to say.
So on the night the anticipation was starting to become unbearable waiting to start, it was going to be an epic nights tasting.
The first sample to start the night was..
Balblair 1985 bottled: 27/01/2015 30yo 43% abv
Nose: Sweet ripe fruits is the first thing to hit me, pineapple and bananas , honey with a fresh vanilla pod, malty with a earthy undertone to it, after sometime in the glass some soft citrus notes and a minty hint as well..
Palate: Big spice explosion, cinnamon, pepper, fresh ground coffee, then comes some fruit with apples, sweet pears drizzled with caramelised sugar, continuously changing between the spice and sweet fruitiness..
Finish: zingy in the mouth with a long warm spice never wanting to end..
We then moved on to a great vintage year, my birth year..
Smiths Glenlivet 1974 bottled: 18/02/2008 33yo 43% abv
Nose: First is a sweet vanilla followed by dried fruits, figs, prunes, dates etc, a soft anise/cinnamon spice note, with time a hint of red berries starts to appear with a soft sandle wood note..
Palate: Nice warm spice with a hint of lime and ginger, lots of dried sherried fruits dance across the taste buds, there is a fair few astringent sherry notes appear after a little time in the glass, it always seems to change with each sip..
Finish: This is long very long with a beautiful dry spice making you want to have another sip..
The third was from another mile stone year..
Glen Grant 1966 bottled: 16/07/2012 45yo 40% abv
Nose: How fresh is that fruit note, it’s like sitting down with a freshly prepared fruit salad honeydew melon, kiwi fruit, gooseberries etc, rich honey, a hint of fresh tree sap with newly cut meadow in the background, very vibrant for a 45yo malt..
Palate: completely different to the nose, a soft smoke note hits first with dried fruits, rasins, berries etc, after some time to breath I got a subtle tobacco note, with some sweet pear coming through, such a waxy complex palate to it..
Finish: The subtle smoke and dried fruits from the palate stay around to the end which takes its time in turning up..
The fourth sample was from a distillery I love but don’t get to try much from these days..
Strathisla 1965 bottled: 20/01/2016 50yo 43% aabv
Nose: Rich sherry, Xmas pudding fruit, deep dark chocolate, treacle toffee, some malty hints, a little old leather creeping in with time, this is a traditional Xmas of old wafting around your nose..
Palate: Big sherry bomb, a lovely warm spice waltzes across you palate, some coffee notes develop with a woody undertone, take another sip and soft honey with rich oranges explodes in the mouth, this has layer upon layer of flavours developing..
Finish: Not too dry with a subtle hint of wood, it also feels like judgement day will arrive before this dram finishes..
The fifth and last sample of the night was a piece of history in my eyes..
Mortlach 1954 bottled: 20/11/2012 58yo 43% aabv
Nose: Leather, oranges, a soft butterscotch note, earthy with a subtle soft peat hint, rich dried fruits soaked in cognac, this is a deep pool of notes swirling around..
Palate: First come a pepper hit, then some sweetness in the way of a rich honey with a orange hint, some cranberries balance the sweetness, with time a hint of embers from a dying fire..
Finish: This is a perfect balance between the wood, fruit and spice that goes on and on…
I feel very humbled that I was chosen for this tweet tasting, having the opportunity to sample history. I kind of feel lost for words, everyone of the drams sampled tonight was an absolute dream to try and would be loved by anyone passionate about whisky in my opinion. I guess this is a once in a lifetime experience and you have to grab it with both hands and enjoy. I can say without any doubt this was by far the best tasting I have ever done, it took me on a guided tour of how whisky has been made down the years with subtleties that I’ve only read about flowing around my tastes buds. After a long time thinking about it I decided that by the smallest of margins the ’65 Strathisla was my favourite of the night.
I must say a huge thank you to Steve of The Whisky Wire for hosting this amazing night and also to Gordon & Macphail for supplying the samples to die for. I would say to anyone who gets a chance to sample any of the drams tried tonight, don’t hesitate grab the opportunity and savour every second of the experience you won’t regret it.