Moon Import have quite the reputation in whisky enthusiast circles – the Italian bottler is known (like several other Italian bottlers) for picking exceptionally good casks of liquid. A quick look at Whiskybase will give some idea of how well-rated its releases have become over the years. Quite probably even more so since 2015 when, after 35 years of operation, the company sadly shuttered its doors. Over the years, Moon Import produced a number of landmark whisky series – all with stunningly illustrated labels – birds, historic costumes, cars and the sea have all featured. And, so have shoes.
The Last Fetish Series consists of six bottlings – all portraying a ladies shoe sat on an ornate cushion – and why not eh?! Three come from malt distilleries (Glen Garioch, Jura and Tamdhu), one is an Islay blended malt and the last two are both exceptionally well-aged grains (Caledonian and North British). We’ll be taking a look at the latter.
This North British is quite seriously old – cask #62 was distilled in the year that Kennedy asked the US Congress for $531 to put a man on the moon within a decade. It slumbered though the space race. It snoozed through the Cold War. It never saw the fall of the Berlin Wall. And it missed the Spice Girls and Boyzone entirely (timing is everything). It finally merged in 2011 at 49 years of age with just 336 at 46% remained. It’s rare (and becoming rarer) that I get to try things this old.
Nose: Caramel popcorn, shortbread, burnt toffee and earthy cereals are joined polystyrene cement and a pot of ancient deck vanish. They provide a great level of sweet vs. sour and feel particularly well-integrated and cohesive. Digestive biscuits, buttered toast, vanilla pods and coconut shavings sit alongside chocolate, steeped tea and golden tobacco. There’s sense of opulence here which I rarely find in grain whiskies – regardless of their age. Just a touch of dilution adds some intense nuttiness to the equation – cashews and hazelnuts as well as older dustier aromas of dunnage floors.
Taste: The arrival is extremely textural – especially so for 46% - it coats the tongue and mouth in a syrupy selection of surprisingly fresh flavours – roasted cereals and oats, butterscotch, fudge, and plenty of chocolate. The mid-palate offsets some of this sweetness with glue, acetone and aged, but incredibly still sappy oak. Coffee beans, molasses, pipe tobacco and malted beer bring up the rear. The addition of water certainly brings out the wood influence – planking, chips and sawdust alongside tart graininess.
Finish: The longer side of medium with chilli chocolate, dark brewed coffee, coconut and just a hint of ginger.
This rather desirably North British 1962 from Moon Import has one of the very best mouthfeels of any grain whisky I’ve had the pleasure of tasting – it’s particularly weighty and viscous. This provides for a high class arrival and development which really allows the well-aged whisky to shine brightly and not fade away thinly. Still available via some retailers in Italy, or occasionally via auction sites. £300 is not cheap – but many other grain whiskies of similar ages will cost more presently, and don’t even think about 49 year old malt whisky! Excellent stuff and worth looking out for.