TWE Old & Rare: Day 1, Part 2

Black & White [1950’s] Buchanan’s Choice old Scotch Whisky 30 degrees under proof [WB]84[1]

30 degrees under proof = 100 proof/57%abv minus 30 = 70 proof/40%.Black & white 30 under.jpg

  • N: Classic old blended nose, as so many are – but within that ‘classic’ lies a wealth of treasure not now found in modern B&W.
  • T: Freshest blend so far today with a bitter edge.
  • F: Does its best to hang on in there.
  • C: Great quality old blend.

Scores 85 points


Black & Ferguson Aberdeen Adelphi liqueur [circa 1900] no other info


  • N: Orange essential oils and peated malt.
  • T: So much mineral-ness, it’s like licking a piece of slate.
  • F: A deep finish on slate, soil and putty.
  • C: Interesting, really – and very good too.

Scores 86 points


Linkwood 1972/2013 41yo G&M 43% WB88.50[2] [WF]88


  • N: Not sure whether this is from single cask #14796 with 277 bottles or not. This has a good putty-like pong. Yep yep, I like this style, it sits somewhere between the oldies and the youngies – which is neat given it was distilled then and bottled now-ish.
  • T: Sugary oil, or oily sugar and briny too, with a little smoke throughout.
  • F: Same course but doesn’t hang about.
  • C: Nice, very nice indeed.

Scores 86 points


Linkwood 1959 25yo G&M CC brown 40% WB88[2]

Linkwood 1959.jpg

  • N: It’s an ‘ahh’ moment. Ginger cake hits first before all of the likeable usual suspects.
  • T: Probably the thinnest mouth of the day, so a bit disappointing from thereon in.
  • F: Sweet cocoa candy and coconut sugar.
  • C: So so, but that’s only in context of such stunning competition earlier in the day. Similar style to the 1972 Linkwood.

Scores 86 points


Convalmore 1981 16yo First Cask #89/604/114 [btl #35] 46% WB87.50[2] OMoH8/10

WO: ‘The First Cask range was a series of single casks bottled by Direct Wines from the 1990s through to the later 2000s. The series featured casks from numerous distilleries and were all bottled at 46%. Never widely available or publicised at the time they have since become something of a series of hidden gems with many great drams appearing in the range over the years’.

Convalmore 1981.jpg

Signatory bottled for the First Cask series, but i’m not sure if exclusively – anyone? Laithwaites Wine is a part of Direct Wines who bought Virgin Wines in 2005.

  • N: Straight bourbon notes, a little peated and farmy on goats milk. Potent sugars, a heady mix.
  • T: Honeyed bourbon, silky mouthfeel, then becomes more fuller still.
  • F: Strong into the finish.
  • C: Strong identity for a natural one. Thanks for the recommendation Angus.

Scores 87 points


Glendronach 12.jpg

Glendronach 12yo 1970’s 70 proof WB87.72[20] WF91

  • N: Old tomato, herbal, sherry [blend] style.
  • T: Arrives neatly.
  • F: Finishes dusty.
  • C: In the fleeting time i had with this, good is all.

Scores 86 points


Lochside 1965 20yo G&M CC brown label 40% [75cl] WB89.50[12] WF93 OMoH9/10

Lochside 1965.jpg

  • N: This is one heavy dense soup. Imagine a sherry infused Ganges river with chesterfield sofas, old oak sideboards and open tins of shoe polish bobbing past the Manikarnika Ghat [instead of cats, dogs and babies], and bottle that! Heavy, potent stuff.
  • T: This displays full energy despite its low abv and wateriness. It’s body thin but content thick becoming more heathery later on.
  • F: More on the herbal bitter> sour> sweet candy.
  • C: Oh yes, a great Lochside that comes in three parts: an old blended soup on the nose, an engaging palate and a commanding finish.

Scores 90 points


Kilbeggan 1946/1980 34yo Locke’s ‘The last cask’ [480 bts] 42.3% WB0

Locke's Kilbeggan.jpg

The last known cask from this Irish distillery before it ceased its activity in 1958, although distilling may have stopped as early as 1954.

  • N: Oaked shoe polish. Some tomato, coconut, sherbet and sugared veg – Chinese style. Some seaside notes also.
  • T: Rugged.
  • F: Some lip smacking extracts the oily maltiness. More iodine within this dense herbal-oaked-malt brew.
  • C: A taste of Irish history from a distillery recently reopened after 50 years of closure.

Scores 86 points


Springbank 1965/1987 Moon-import cask #367 [504 bts] 46% WB93.80[12] WF93 OMoH9/10

Springbank 1965 moon.png

  • N: Lovely, intriguing and transporting.
  • T: Complex oily, fruity, mineral [Port Ellen-esque].
  • F: Rolls and rolls.
  • C: Thought provoking.

Scores 92 points


Springbank 1952/1978 Solera [TWE Old & Rare 2017 [£12] free snifter] Score: B/87 [Feb ’17]

  • N: Old stuff yet with a spring in it’s step.
  • T: Yum, a potent mjx. Tasty indeed.
  • F: No, don’t die on me,… actually it hangs on – great!
  • C: Very good if a little frail.

Scores 87 points


Bunnahabhain 1973/2013 40yo Whiskyman ‘Birthday dram’ [btl #83/155] 48.5% WB91.53[64] WF91

This was bottled by four Flemish friends to celebrate their 40th birthday’s, two of which were manning the Whiskyman stand at the weekend. With only 155 bottles in total split between them, it’s a treat to be trying this – not least because 2013 was also my 40th year and Bunnahabhain remains one of my heart distilleries.

Bunnahabhain 1973.jpg

  • N: Papaya & mango alongside a myriad of other waxed fruits & flora and then all the bananas – especially those small sweet ones you get in abundance down in Trivandrum.
  • T: There’s more tropical-ness embodied in a succulent saline<waxy
  • F: It keeps on exuding it’s elixir – 40yo yet forever young.
  • C: Thanks Billy, a real treat.

Scores 90 points


– -And that’s close on my day 1 – –


Reflection on day 1

The main difference between today’s output and whisky of yesteryear appears to start with the maltings, with the majority of those old drams having some element of peating or smoked barley at their core, specific to each brand and/or distillery. That and the fact that there are no over-blown bombs, no hyper-active casks and very little vanilla if at all. The levels of peat, smoke, sherry-to-bourbon, oak-to-spirit seem just so. Nothing is excessive, everything is proportionate [in the main], though that’s no guarantee of the final result. Interestingly, some of these old malts come across like the old blends in style, such is that distinct ‘oldie’ character – and let’s face it, single malts are simply distillery specific blends.

On the other hand, today’s experience has also reinforced in me how good whiskies of today actually are. The world is undoubtedly making good whisky today, no doubt better by volume than ever before. In many respects, the quality alongside consistency presently is high[er], though efficiency and quality-homogenisation are no match for serendipity and the sublime, unexplained magic that comes from the result of a complex series of industrial, agricultural and artisan practises from ‘acorn to oak’ [as the Speyside Cooperage coin it]. Let’s remember though that the homogenisation of whisky production and ultimately it’s flavour started many decades ago at a time when those old gems [some of them above], were also being discovered, and one could argue that the our contemporary malts in general are more varied and colourful than at any point before.

It’s certainly not a simple case of one world being better than the other. It’s not Gladiatorial combat, but I wish we’d see the two worlds come together a lot more.

Day two coming up soon.

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