The Whisky Show 2021, Part 7/11: Old & Rare

Following on from Part 6,….

There’s just time – before the Springbank masterclass – to nip upstairs for a few ‘Old & Rare’ drams at the whisky.auction stand which has been a must-visit for a number of years now.

Offering incredible value, many of their goodies are available for just half a token!

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Northern Club, Auckland Blended Scotch Whisky [1950s~1960s] J. G. Thompson & Co. abv unknown

  • N: Unlike a lot of OBE-d blends of this era, this is more uncommonly a robust solid if bready dram.  
  • T&F: It would seem that malt content and quality overall, is high. A solid performer with a steady journey through, this acts more like a malt than a blend.
  • C: A solid start.

Scores 85 points

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Dewar’s Ancestor [1950s] Ob. [Spring Cap] 70 proof WB84[5]

  • N: Bready, sugary-sweet, and with more typical OBE-d blended pickled sherried-vinegary vibes in comparison to the Auckland blend.
  • T: Moreish arrival with a keen prickly bite.
  • F: A malty and peppery sustain then clean off,…. creamy at the death. 
  • C: Another fabulously fresh/intact O&R blend. There’s no comparing this to Dewar’s contemporary bottlings.

Scores 87 points

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Catto’s Gold Label [1940s] Ob. 86 proof WB?/WB0

Having said previously that I was done trying to find a decent example of a malt-driven Catto/Catto’s blend [WLP], here I am confronted with an example from the 1940s for just half a [£10/2] dream dram token. How could I not? I could not. [No pic].

  • N: Light and nutty.
  • T: Light creaminess, raisin-y,… light & easy overall. Teacher’s Highland Cream-esque?
  • F: Same again, all good with a light maltiness.
  • C: All good, yes, albeit forgettable. My work here [with Catto’s] is definitely done.

Scores 83 points

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Vat 69 [1960s] Ob./Wm Sanderson & Co. 40/70 proof [375ml] WB0 WF[3/5]

I have it on good authority that this is an excellent example of Vat 69.

  • N: Pleasingly, there’s far less bottle effect than is usual for blends of this age. 
  • T&F: What a chew – a malty herbal chew – with a TTR [tamari, tomato, rancio] sweetness,… becoming all the more voluminous by the minute. Reminds me [somewhat] of Bunna 12s from the 1980s – batch-dependant and cellared for 20 years.
  • C: The few Vat 69s I’ve had before now have been crumby. Becoming fabulous-er and fabulous-er., this could well be the best Vat 69 I’ll ever try.

Scores 89 points, indeed!!

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Invergordon 1974/2019 45yo Single & Single cask 46.6% WB87[1]

89 points for a Vat 69? Is my radar on the blink? Let’s see how this proper-old grain fairs alongside.

  • C: Fancy a VAT 69 being the death seat for a 1974 45yo Invergordon which is overshadowed by the 1960s blend but not extravagantly. Though appearing more bitter by comparison, a 45yo single cask grain isn’t something you come across everyday, and it’s a good one too.

Scores 87 points

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Glenfiddich Straight Malt [1960s] Ob. 70 proof [26/2/3rds] WF91

As well as the Vat 69, peeps are making noises about this one too. Whisky.auction have brought some [incredibly affordable] crackers this year that have exceeded expectations.

  • N: Very ‘straight’ indeed, seemingly all-bourbon [?], and with an old skool briney quality.
  • T&F: Silky delivery,…. yum yum.
  • C: As good as Glenfiddich’s official 23yo Grand Cru [WLP87]? You’d better believe it, and these bottles aren’t outrageously priced at auction either.

Scores 87 points

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Highland Park 1966/1986 20yo R. W. Duthie & Co. for the Corti Bros. 86 US proof [750ml] WB89.50[9] WF89

  • N: Not much at first aside from some lovely aged peatiness, but more becomes clear the more one investigates.
  • T: 100% malt spirit without being new make-y, we’ve a gentle sooty spirit with an ethereal omega-3 texture.
  • F: Soft ageing from a spent cask where the previous [bourbon] contents – and barley even the oak itself – has no bearing whatsoever,… which is rather refreshing.
  • C: A curiosity whisky which requires a special category: neutral cask & glass-aged malts!

Scores 90 points

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Ben Nevis 1996 19yo Ob. ‘Private Cask’ #1424 51.8% WB90.28[27] WF93

1996 is to Ben Nevis what 1965 is to Springbank, or 1972 is to Glendronach [WLP]. An official bottling labelled as a private cask, Ben Nevis did buy back a lot of their old stock at that time back.

  • C: Many peeps tweeted about this one already, not surprising given Serge’s 93 points. Ex-Malt Maniac, Alex says “Quintessential Ben Nevis”. I wholly agree. If you don’t like this, you don’t like Ben Nevis. As a whisky enthusiast, to appreciate this at the very least, is a must. Incredibly, this was just half a token once again!!!

Scores 92 points

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Next up, a contemporary bottling from the up-and-coming Japanese distillery using Karuizawa’s old still[s]. Further watching: Kanpaiplanet

Shizuoka 3yo [2020] Ob. ‘Prologue K’ First-fill bourbon casks [5000 bts] 55.5% WB86.20[33] WF90

Shizouka is a distillery that I, along with everyone else, has had a keen eye on for obvious reasons. This is one of the distillery’s first two releases and is currently impossible to buy [on the secondary] for less than €600.

  • N: This is a galaxy away from all those old drams, but I spot there’s very little left in the bottle,… so it’s now or never. Wow, Ledaig? Ardbeg?,….. Laphroaig? Neither, of course. Lovely indeed.
  • T: Spot on. This is essence of barley spirit right here.
  • F: A little peppery,.. far more basic with water added.
  • C: A great start for this already renowned young distillery, but before you start considering those secondary prices, bear in mind this one’s rrp is/was 8130 yen/£60/€70.

Scores 85 points

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Let’s stick with the new/up-and-coming for our last dram of this mini session.

London Distillery Company 2015 3yo Ob. cask #109 63.5% WB0

  • C: There’s also noise about this distillery for their use of heritage grains and yeasts. From just a snifter, it’s a tremendous whisky at just three years and from a tiny 20-litre ex-bourbon cask too.

Provisionally scores in the region of 85/86, in line with Ardnamurchan for sure.

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It just so happens that Phil Storry – the one and only – has a sample from his own London Distillery private cask for peeps to try.

London Distillery Company [2021] Private cask sample 63.5%

  • C: This is a full-on 3yo and so much spicier than the official cask #109, though both share the same [cask fill-strength] abv. With all these young casks, malts, and distilleries, time will tell. [Not scored]

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I have to dash, for the Springbank masterclass [coming next] is due to start any minute.

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END

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