Following on from Part 7], South Uist reminds us of the restrictive and controlling effects of land ownership. Coincidentally, as I write, this article appeared on the Guardian website [see pic].
Here, agriculture is king, followed by fence post companies I’d imagine. I’ve never witnessed so much fencing. The majority of South Uist is designated for agriculture, the MOD, and exclusive private housing. The more I explore, the more aware I become of the lack of freedom to roam – movement [for the masses] reduced to limited pockets, tracks and trails [by the few]. On to North Uist, then, I go. Things improve the further north I travel, eventually finding Clachan Sands Camping Area – a campervan-friendly spot off the B893 – indicated by a street sign which reads ’Beach Access’. What a treat, compliments of a local farmer.
I chose my spot for the night amongst a small array of motorhomes and water sports enthusiasts. A Hermeto Pascoal lookalike is parked up next door. He listens, exclusively, to [1950-60s] blues whilst slow-cooking aroma-less somethings on a small BBQ. I embark on a long [3 hour] walk which was simply divine before coming across a conspiracy of gulls who make an alarming number of warning dives to tell me their breeding nests are nearby.
My walk is finally halted when six sheep [not the ones in the photo above] line up in an arrow formation and charge at me. Standing on a small rock doesn’t help as much as two passing cyclists who distract the sheep enough for me to about-turn and swiftly head back the way I’d come. Gull-gate occurs all over again on the return leg. That was an intense hour. My phone randomly picks up a passing 3G hotspot where I duly book tickets for the morning ferry to Harris. Arriving back at my camper, I decide to enjoy some early evening drams before an early night.
I fancy something sherried. From my Old & Rare Show sample stash, I’ve a 1962 Macallan. What would be a suitable sparring partner, I wonder. The Longmorn perhaps, from the same year? Again, I’ve no internet on the hillside where I’m parked, so no clues to contents inside the sample bottles other than what I wrote on the labels at the time. Keeping things old & rare, I plumb for a bourbon cask-matured Caperdonich as a sighter.
Caperdonich 1972/2007 35yo Private Bottling Bourbon Cask 58.3% tOMoH9/10
- N: Fruity and malty with a nice tea-dunked biscuitiness.
- T: A nice balance between oak, spirit, and maturity has been struck. Whilst not effortless, it’s a nicely rugged, weighted, and rather endearing single malt.
- F: More tea-dunked biscuitiness into an oaky maltiness.
- C: Most appealing for those who like their spirit and oak, both muscular yet equal in measure.
Scores 89 points
Colour: greeny brown, which often indicates soft consolidated slow oak-aged sugars.
- N: You can bet some significant chemical transformations have occurred to this old-timer since finding its way into glass in 1989/1990. A 1cl drop really isn’t enough to judge a whisky with such accolades [Serge: 93], yet I struggle on. A touch of OBE doesn’t detract from the very soft tincture-y & cordial-like soft sherried[?] TTR-esque [tomato-tamari-rancio] pong. Time allows the fruit sugars to emerge.
- T: With a faded almost blend-like sooty start, I can’t decide whether this has seen all-sherry maturation or a cask combo. Assuming this was bottled a 40%, I’m more certain the abv has slipped below 40%. Crikey it’s delicious though. A touch dusty and with just a lick of boot polish, this is faded old gear that must have sat in some appropriately quiet casks for 27+ years, followed by the same again in glass.
- F: Rather struggles [at such low power] to sustain itself much further, though remarkably, the soft entrenched barley sugars that have long been mashed out, fermented and distilled, remain present. Furthermore, we’ve no oak issues whatsoever.
- C: Despite the lack of power, this is one of those whisky’s where all the time-dependent parts of the process have contributed just the right amount towards a stellar result.
Scores 92 points
Macallan 1962/1987 25yo Ob. Anniversary Malt 43% [75cl] WB90.80
The last old  vintage Macallan I came into close proximity with was certainly a fake. Whatever it was, it was good whisky, but there was no way it was from even the 1990s, let alone the 1960s. I sent the empty 5cl miniature back to the auction house to aid their investigations but didn’t receive any acknowledgement. Rest assured that this 1962 Anniversary bottling is the real deal, especially because it’s coming from ‘the man’ [Connors].
- N: And there we are, old skool sherry-matured malty Macallan. You can see why die-hard fans would wish for nothing else. To talk of the sweetness here is leagues away from what we might describe as sweet or sweetness in our daily lives. Then there’s the savoury aspect. ‘Umami’!
- T: The original bottling strength is such an important part of the preservation process, especially if one is to lay down already old spirit, for decades more in glass. Like many an old whisky from this era, this has become a little frail. This bottle might have peaked [perhaps] 5/10 years back, but despite the wateriness, there’s no lack of breadth, volume or mouthfeel. After that, no words, not even dad noises! Just hand gesturing and head nodding says it all.
- F: It finishes just as aptly as it began.
- C: Old-gold Macallan. Nothing unfathomable about it, nothing mystical nor other-worldly. Many can be quite similar in the respect that they are simply perfectly-formed moreish whiskies from start to finish. Get these bottles open, get them shared, and get them enjoyed, I say, or we may end up with a global glass library of unopened flat/dead bottles.
Scores 92 points
The next morning, I go for a jog!! I want to visit the not-too-distant white sandy beach beyond the next corner, but I’ve not enough time as my ferry to Harris is due in less than an hour. In hindsight, I should have carried on. Once at the port, there’s no sign of a ferry. A local guy tells me it’s probably been cancelled due to tidal forces, though the ‘laser display’ information board says no such thing. He’s convinced the 13:30 shall go ahead. I wait and wait.
Note to self [for next time]: I want to explore more of north Uist. Just gotta watch out for those aggressively territorial birds [time of year?], sheep, and dogs [of course] – it’s an agricultural jungle out there! Then there are the flies. Fortunately, it’s been too windy for the midges.