Friday, March 12, 2010

70 years old - but still with plenty of life

As Chairman of Glasgow’s Whisky Club, I’ve been privy to some special moments in the whisky world – but none more so than the unveiling of the world’s oldest bottled single malt at Edinburgh Castle.
Released under Gordon & MacPhail's 'Generations' brand, Mortlach 70 Years Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky was tasted by guests at the launch in the setting of Castle's Queen Anne Room.
The new-make spirit from Speyside's Mortlach Distillery was filled into the cask on 15 October 1938 on the order of John Urquhart, the grandfather of Gordon & MacPhail joint managing directors David and Michael Urquhart.
Exactly 70 years later, the decision was made to empty the cask and bottle the contents.
Founded in 1895, Gordon & MacPhail is known the world over as the custodian of some of the oldest and rarest single malts available.
Members of the third and fourth generations of the Urquhart family now own and manage the business.
David and Michael Urquhart said: "This is a very special day for us, one we've literally been anticipating for generations. Our family has been in the whisky business for a long time, with each generation building and handing on a lifetime's expertise to the next.
"We believe Mortlach 70 Years Old is a malt without comparison. If the reaction of those lucky enough to enjoy a dram today is anything to go by, whisky fans and people wishing to own a unique piece of Scotland's liquid history will be very excited about it."
Charles MacLean, whisky writer and connoisseur who was allowed a sneak preview of the single malt, described it as "a delicate, fresh, vital, fruity whisky, with unusual attributes of waxiness and smokiness."
Each bottle will be presented in a tear-shaped hand-blown crystal decanter with an elegant silver stopper. The decanter nestles in a stylish silver base and is framed in a handmade Brazilian Rosewood box, created using wood from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified sources.
Mortlach 70 Years Old was matured in a Spanish oak, ex-bodega sherry hogshead cask, which yielded 54 full-size and 162 small decanters bottled at cask strength (46.1% ABV).
The recommended retail price in the UK is £10,000 per 70cl decanter and £2,500 for the 20cl version.
This is the first in a series of extremely rare malt whiskies to be released by Gordon & MacPhail under its 'Generations' brand.
Your humble chairman was blown away by the life that was still evident in the dram. No sign of it having been overwhelmed by the oak and the nose from the empty Glencairn glass lingered well into the afternoon. A truly memorable dram, but at £10,000 per 70cl bottle, a bit rich for most of us. Perhaps the Club could buy one for a special Round the Barrel night.