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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Very Old. Very Very Old. Very Old Indeed. But New at the same time. Confusing, isn't it!

Ahhh, always fun opening our inbox here at caskstrength.net. In days gone by, a horse drawn cart would arrive outside the HQ, a fanfare would sound and at once a well dress man would step down from his carriage, unfurl a scroll and proclaim "Lo, Good Sire of Kennington. Mastercard want their cash, innit. Pay up or we'll bash yer!" and then speed away, their trusty steed kicking up dirt into our faces as we dive for shillings in our purse. But not now! No! A simple "click" on the tracker ball on the Blackberry and all is revealed. Highlights from this mornings flashing inbox reveals: "eBay Item Won: Longmorn Miniature", "Get Into The Festival Spirit, SMWS Style", "Octomore 2.0 Out Now!" and a rather unusual email:



£10,000 SINGLE MALT IS 'FLAWLESS'

A 50-year-old single malt whisky is to go on sale for £10,000 a bottle, it was announced today. The Glenfiddich Distillery described the single malt as "the pinnacle of our whisky-making excellence" and will release just 50 bottles per year over the next decade. Bottles will be available at selected airports across the world for the next two months, and then at a small number of retailers.

The whisky has been kept in two casks in the Banffshire distillery's warehouse for 50 years. Each hand-blown numbered bottle is decorated in Scottish silver and presented in a hand-stitched, leather-bound case. A leather-bound book accompanies each bottle, detailing the whisky's history and has pages for owners' tasting notes. Buyers will also receive a certificate signed by four of the distillery's long-serving craftsmen.

Peter Gordon, chair of distillery owner William Grant & Sons, said the whisky is "flawless". Mr Gordon, who is the great-great-grandson of distillery founder William Grant, said: "We're happy to wait as long as we need to - up to 50 years in this instance - to produce the perfect whisky.

"The Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is the pinnacle of our whisky-making excellence and epitomises my great-great grandfather's vision of creating the very 'best dram in the valley'.

"Every new year is important when it comes to making exceptional whisky - and Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is the ultimate expression of this pioneering foresight."

In 2006 a bottle of whisky believed to be the oldest in existence was auctioned in London. The Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky is said to have been bottled about 150 years ago in Glenavon Distillery in Banffshire and was bought for £14,850.

Right-ho. I'll have 12 bottles please. Oh, hang on. There's that mastercard statement again... :(

Soooooo..... £10,000 for a bottle of whisky. I have no doubt they will sell all 50 of them. Not an issue. Okay, it's one of the longest and deepest recessions we've had in decades. But there are still plenty of people out there with money to burn. Just look at Manchester City for starters...

This press release raises four main questions for me.

- "Leather bound"?! What is this, an episode of Alan Partridge?

- "In 2006 a bottle of whisky believed to be the oldest in existence was auctioned in London." Thanks to fellow blogger Tim F for pointing out that they seem to be confusing the oldest whisky with the oldest BOTTLE of whisky here.

- At £10,000 a pop, who is going to open this to find out if it is indeed "flawless" (answers on a postcard, with a sample bottle, to Caskstrength.net HQ, ASAP please!!!)?

- Commenting that one of your whiskies is both "flawless" and "the pinnacle of... whisky-making excellence" would suggest that your other bottlings are not quite up to scratch, so if you don't have £10,000, well
you're not very wealthy so I'm afraid that you'll have to drink whisky that isn't quite up-to-scratch.

Personally, I would consider some of the other drams Glenfiddich produces to be at the pinnacle of whisky-making excellence; take the wonderful 15 Year Old, the fantastic 18 Year Old or the awesome Vintage Reserve 1977. You should not be made to feel like you're drinking whisky which is NOT at the pinnacle of whisky making excellence, just because you only have £32.49, £38.99 or £500.00 to spend.

The wonderful thing about being at the top of a mountain is this: every inch you turn around, you have a different view. The vista is always amazing; but from some angles it is slightly better than from others. This is like being at the pinnacle of whisky-making excellence. To the left you have an old Samaroli Ardbeg; take a step to the right and, yes! There it is, the Lagavulin 16. One more pace to your right and you can see it, gleaming away in the distance, it's the Karuizawa 1971. But what is that behind it? Overshadowing, maybe? Ooh, it's the Black Bowmore. And over there! Look! The Glenfarclas 1965 Family Cask... and we've not even seen Port Ellen yet from here...

At the pinnacle of anything, you should have a 360 degree view. An all encompassing idea of the journey you have been on to end up where you are. It is never one-dimensional. And certainly, in whisky, the view can never be summed up one dram alone. I don't doubt that this is the best whisky Glenfiddich have ever made. And they make some crackers in their search to get to this point. But let's not go too far, shall we. However, there is only one way to find out: Now, where was that Mastercard... Argh.......!