Time to get stuck into some slightly cult whisky in the form of a well-aged indie St Magdalene. Cult whisky can be tough to understand. Why is one whisky cult and another not? Why are some distilleries so sought after and bottles fought over at auction?
Without daring to answer that question fully here, cult is often simply equated to scarcity, and scarcity is certainly understandable when you’re talking about closed distilleries such as Brora, Port Ellen and Karuizawa. When it comes to individuals trying to obtain bottles from these distilleries highly diminished supplies of filled casks, one only has to watch briefly to witness near mania and an apparent abandonment of any financial sensibility. Whilst St Magdalene doesn’t quite fall into the same realm of daft fetishism seen with the aforementioned distilleries, it is still a totally finite liquid and, along with Rosebank and Littlemill, has become a Lowland legend now passed into the mists of distilling history.
Originally known as Linlithgow after the town in which it was built, St Magdalene closed in 1983 - so we’re tasting some spirit from the penultimate year of distillation. This was bottled for the G&M Rare Old Series in 2015, so 32 years of age here. Exciting stuff indeed.
Nose: Looks like an older Lowlands. Smells like an older Lowlands too. Green fruits interplay with roasted cereals and toasted nuts. All wrapped up with some lovely dusty polish and tobacco. Still getting some vanilla coming through. It’s an austere nose, but with just enough vibrancy still left in it.
Taste: OK, this is pretty woody. Musty and dusty wood – the sort of thing you’d expect if you opened an pirate’s treasure chest. Bound cooked leather, polish and acetone here – a really wide and broad mouthfeel. Again, still some vibrancy left here with a little astringency in the liquid. This is no bad thing at all, and adds another needed dimension to this very mature and wood-focussed dram.
Finish: Pretty great finish here. The notes are sustained and long with some wood spices starting to come through.
Quite the experience. But, possibly not for everyone. If you’re looking for a spirit-led whisky, this isn’t for you – the time spent in the cask has allowed the wood to really take over here. Those into everything polish, tobacco and leather will have a great time with this dram – and hey, it’s a piece of whisky history right?Score: 88/100