Old & Rare

Rare Batch 19

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New whisky tasting notes: Rare Batch 19

One of London’s newest bars officially opened for business last month: The Hyde. Tucked away inside boutique hotel The Royal Park, a renovated mid-19th-century Grade II listed townhouse, the venue boasts a back bar filled with rare whiskies and Cognacs.

At a special preview in March, features editor Melita Kiely was fortunate enough to sample a small selection of hard-to-come-by whiskies available to purchase at the bar.

First, a 42-year-old single grain from the now demolished North of Scotland distillery, distilled in December 1971 and bottled in May 2014 at cask strength. Part of independent bottler Gordon & Company’s Pearls of Scotland series, only 290 bottles were released.

Next, a 1940s vintage Strathisla (which has a claim to being the oldest distillery in Scotland). This particular expression was distilled in 1949, just before Chivas Brothers acquired the distillery. It was bottled in 2006 by Gordon & MacPhail at the ripe old age of 55.

Finishing this week’s tasting notes is a 1979 Japanese single malt from Suntory’s Yamazaki distillery. The whisky was aged for 29 years in Japanese Mizunara casks before being bottled at cask strength for the travel retail market. Only 294 bottles were released in 2008.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • North of Scotland 1971 (Gordon & Company)

    North of Scotland 1971 (Gordon & Company)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    44%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Strong aromas of acetone; a freshly painted room. Some vanilla and orange coming through behind, but overshadowed by the layer of varnish that still lingers. Interesting, though not for everyone.

    Palate

    Rich and fruity, with a thick, oily texture. A dessert platter of spicy fruitcake, treacle tart and creamy crème brûlée. There are also notes of nutmeg, dark chocolate and Earl Grey tea, as woody flavours come through. A hint of menthol adds a touch of freshness. 

    Finish

    The Earl Grey lingers for a long finish with some burnt sugar.

    Conclusion

    Delectable palate that’s good enough to eat – but the nose lets it down. 

    Right place, right time

    Afternoon tea at the Savoy. 

    Strathisla 1949 (Gordon & MacPhail)

    Strathisla 1949 (Gordon & MacPhail)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Raisins, toffee and thick, sticky treacle, and a light whiff of smoke. A fresh pouch of Golden Virginia tobacco and buttery shortbread. 

    Palate

    At first, the palate seems quite mellow, but give it time and there’s a complexity of flavours to be found. Gingerbread, fruitcake packed with currants, dried dates, light cereal notes and honey. A trickle of smoke towards the end.  

    Finish

    Long, woody and fruity. 

    Conclusion

    At a higher abv, this could have been truly spectacular. Nonetheless, a delightful dram. 

    Right place, right time

    With the biscuits baking in the oven, he rolled himself a cigarette.

    Yamazaki 1979 Mizunara Oak

    Yamazaki 1979 Mizunara Oak
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Hugely complex from the start. Leather sofas and old oak furniture. Some caramel and vanilla, which then leads into McVitie’s Ginger Nuts. Medjoul dates and raisins.

    Palate

    Incredibly flavoursome with intense spices, ginger and cinnamon. This is a big, rich whisky, with a thick, oily texture. There’s orange marmalade and dark chocolate – Jaffa Cakes. It continues to grow, with Sherry notes coming through; a crescendo of Christmas cake, Maraschino cherries, raisins and honey. 

    Finish

    Long and dry, with a hint of eucalyptus.

    Conclusion

    Complex, rich, bold and utterly delicious. 

    Right place, right time

    Perusing the second-hand furniture store and dreaming of the past.

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