If you’ve been following the independent bottling scene over the last couple of years (particularly on the European side) you’ll have likely observed a number of well-aged blended malts (often from a base of Edrington malts) hailing from 1973. This Whisky Show exclusive bottling sounds immediately like one of these well-regarded expressions – however, its UV light reveal highlights a different journey. The component malts (of an unspecified number, but hailing from Speyside) were matured separately until 2005, and then married (in Glasgow it says in glowing fluorescent light) in a single refill sherry butt (#6) for an impressively long finishing period.
There are 549 bottles available. They clock in at 45.1% ABV and with an RRP of £450.
Nose: No hiding the length of maturation here. This is pretty austere. Apple crumble and bread and butter pudding sits with raisins and sultanas, whilst macerated cherries and red berry jam is joined by balsamic sharpness and plenty of dusty mahogany and ebony wood flooring. Demerara sugar is scattered atop of everything, whilst a slice of chocolate gateaux is served with scorched waffles (blackening at the edges), sunflower oil and a handful of potpourri. The addition of water emphasises orchard fruit elements as well as bakery – apple flans and pear tarts alongside shortbread biscuits.
Taste: Rich, viscid and highly impactful. Unsurprisingly oak is up first – panelling, sheened tables, dusty parquet flooring and leather armchairs sitting in old libraries. Woody, but again, austere and refined. Brown sugars and cola cubes are joined by 1970s orange liqueurs whilst grapefruit tartness and lemon polish balance the combination of sweetness and old wood. The back palate delivers spice with cinnamon and nutmeg, whilst dustiness of cellars is joined by plenty of charred cask ends – off-sweet, but not quite bitter yet. Water is a less profitable addition than on the nose – whilst it adds dark chocolate and cacao nibs it quickly reduces the overall poise and definition of the composition as a whole – such is the way of old and delicate things.
Finish: Quite long. Happy Shopper cola and sweet balsamic alongside plenty of scorched ends and charred staves.
Timeworn four decade plus whisky doesn’t have to equate with being spent, over the hill and meek. This blended malt still possesses the underlying vibrancy of its distillates with a defined fruity overlay from a long refill sherry but finish. Of course, given the age, there’s plenty of antique oakiness here, but the marriage is undeniably elegant.
Review sample provided by The Whisky Exchange