- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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