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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Scotch 75

Many of you may remember that Joel, the other half of Caskstrength last year celebrated his 30th birthday in style at London's SMWS, with a whole host of whiskies from his birth year of 1979.

Being that bit older (my birthday is in 1975) I am less inclined to feel celebratory about the impending prospect of my next milestone birthday being the big 40. However, I am feeling a little better considering just how many great whiskies were made in 1975. So rather than wait until 39 years and 10 months to start collecting for the inevitable party, (hey, hope Mrs Caskstrength is reading this) i've begun my stockpiling now, whilst they're still relatively reasonably priced.

A couple of months ago we reviewed a particularly great Berry Bros Glenlossie from 1975, which is absolutely on the list. I've also rooted out a superb Linlithgow from the Murray McDavid Mission range, notes of which will feature on our Warehouse shortly.

Last week, I was lucky enough to try a really cracking array of handsome devils from '75, courtesy of Master Of Malt's 'Drinks By The Dram' collection. Anyone considering a similar project to myself, would be wise to see what they have on offer from certain years- it's a great way to effectively try before you buy and avoid any disappointment when all your assembled party guests are anxiously waiting for you to pop the cork on your prized selection!!

Imagine the scene, as you take your first sip from a bottle you've been waiting 5 years to try...

'Oh. It's a little bit bitter and woody'. To which your irritating uncle (who somehow gained an invite to the party) will no doubt quip 'Get used to it, now you're 40!'s all down hill from here, son...'

3 drams which caught my attention are listed below... Did they have the WOW factor? Or are they reaching for the Viagra and a pair of slippers....

Glenfarclas - The Family Cask Series - 1975 - 51.4%

Nose: Big healthy dose of sherrywood for this oldie, folks, but not overly drying. There’s perhaps a slightly fruity aged cognac note, combined with a touch of menthol and some chocolate covered raisins.

Palate: Dark sugar, treacle and then prunes, figs and those chocolate covered raisins all come to the fore. There is a slight dustiness, but no real hint of over-oaking here.

Finish: The figs lead into a slightly spicy Christmas pudding note, giving the finish a wonderful warming length indeed.

Overall: A great example of Glenfarclas at its best. The cask selection for this age is superb and I’ll certainly be considering this for the party!

Ardbeg -1975 - 43% bottled in 1999

Nose: Dessicated coconut, dry wine notes, herb/fern notes, very medicinal peated notes classic swimming pool notes, sweet red berries and fresh cream. Superb nose, similar to the '77 but perhaps a bit sweeter and fruity.

Palate: Slight notes of wet cardboard/chewed paper, hints of pepper and a little licorice, quality chocolates, dry chardonnay notes and some iodine peatiness. It is a little thinner than the nose would suggest, and quite dusty.

Finish: The dusty notes linger with some of the lightweight peat, milk chocolate and a dusting of cocoa coating the palate. It shows sign of age now and is certainly a different beast to anything produced by the distillery in the last 20 years.

Overall: The nose displays some solid character, giving you a wonderful insight into the distillery character 4 decades ago. Sadly, on the palate it isn't as brilliant as perhaps the 1977 or the superb 1974 single cask bottlings, losing something through its weakness in strength.

Glenrothes – 32 yo – Distilled in December 1975 - refill Hogshead - Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing) 50%

Nose: A definite note of initial waxiness, demerera sugar, ripe pears and clean, malty cereal notes.

Palate: The fruit really develops across the palate, with more of the pear developing into some tropical fruit flavours. Further in, lingering wax notes emerge, with a slightly rum like sweetness.

Finish: Pleasant spice note develops as the palate dries, more of the rum like fruity-sweetness, with a cedary woodiness developing on the death.

Overall: Very good and drinkable indeed. This bottling has managed to grow old gracefully, retaining some of its more youthful character, whilst maturing and softening nicely.

All the above whiskies are available from