Vat 69 takes on the heatwave!

  • VAT 69 was created by William Sanderson & Son Ltd.
  • William Sanderson began bottling his own blends in the mid-late 1800’s, joined by his son William Mark in 1880.
  • Vat 69 was at one time one of the worlds most famous blends.


Vat 69 ‘Finest’ blend WM Sanderson & son no abv

Lets start with this one. it could well be the oldest bottled [date-wise] Vat 69 of the trio, but the level is worryingly low so could easily be a dud. The bottle has the royal seal, theres no stated abv and the bottle has an aluminium-sealed metal-look grey plastic stopper with a ‘gorn orff’ cork – easy to deal with thankfully when its a miniature.

Vat 69 1.jpg

  • N: Its whisky alright, well was, but now only the ghost of whisky past.
  • T: We know that phenols disappear/diminish relatively quickly in maturing spirit over the years, yet ive noticed before how phenols often remain lasting [to a degree] in fully oxidised bottles, over the whisky’s other qualities. Also there are metallic>soapy hints with echoes of bourbon>sherry malt.
  • F: Oxidised malty oakiness.
  • C: Lets hope the next one is more intact.

Not scored.


  • So legend has it that in 1882, a panel of experts and/or friends were invited to taste one hundred different vatted/blended whisky varieties that Sanderson & son had prepared. Vat/cask #69 was deemed to be the best, the cask number that subsequently become the blend’s brand name.
  • Vat 69 is a blend of around 40 malts & grains.


Vat 69 ‘Finest’ blend WM Sanderson & son no 70 proof WF82

Abv: 70 proof and again with the royal seal. Another aluminium-sealed bottle, this time with a more basic cap and yet another ‘gorn orff’ cork. Probably older than the next 70 proof miniature and with a similar level, but i detect that this is another goner so lets have this first.

Vat 69 2.jpg

  • N: Compared to the previous, this is more on the money. A creamy blended malt with a vanilla [grain] richness. So far, so passable.
  • T: Some mild [OBE] malty-shampoo=soapiness & a marked flatness suggests this one is also kaput.
  • F: Hot cocoa and a mellow splinted-dry woodiness.
  • C: More promising. Lets hope the last of our trio has survived the passage of time.

Not scored.


  • Cases of Vat 69 accompanied Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team ‘for medicinal and celebratory purposes’ during their Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914.
  • Of course everyone knows that Vat 69 is the Pope’s phone number.


Vat 69 ‘Finest’ blend WM Sanderson & son 70 proof

Abv: 70 proof with a screw cap without cork & royal seal and looking like an intact miniature.

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  • N: After two failures, im fairly certain we are finally in business. Woody=malty, grain rich-ish with [sweet] roasted whole onions [roasting onions whole really brings out the sugars you know], mild water cress, onion bread [highly recommended], some banana bread, allium shortbread/biscuits, a touch of fennel powder and some sweet-cloying metallic<malty>cocoa. A relatively tamed roughish<‘bodged’ blend.
  • T: Mildish prickly start with a developing sweet, cocoa=cardboardy maltiness and a little oaky<caramel. A little water is recommended to iron out at least some of the creases and bring out the sweet>allium freshness, but the oaky-caramel-maltiness keeps on re-asserting itself.
  • F: Hot cocoa again into the finish, still with a little heat – think cress/lovage. Dry heathery finish with hints of a waxy=buttery mouthfeel and a decidedly secure metallic/malty/metallic-chocolate conclusion.
  • C: Only remains for me to summarise and provide a final thought, Springer style! – kidding. A bodged, prickly yet tamed generic, oaky<malty=‘carameled’ blend with some OBE issues given decades inside only 5cls of glass, and yet there’s plenty of ‘things’ here. I often marvel at the complexity of [some] blends over relatively more straight forward single malts and yet as we know with blends, the sum of their parts often don’t equate to a greater final result – guessing the blender has to use good gear in order to carry the rougher stuff. On the one hand you could see this last Vat 69 as a safe/cautious & bland blend and yet all those ‘bodged’ elements perversely create all number of complexities. Sometimes i wonder whether blend drinkers would be better off drinking more straight-ahead single malts over these complex-weaved component-rich [old] concoctions that require a lot more attention & understanding to extract their worth – though of course there are far better examples than this.

Scores 76 points



Vat 69 trio.jpg
Nearly 10pm and still 23 degrees celsius!