Advertisement
Old & Rare

Rare Batch 64

by
Gordon and MacPhail's Glen Grant 25-year-old; Ledaig 32-year-old Alambic Classique; Cadenhead Dumpy series Tullibardine 12-year-old

A disparate trio of single malts from Speyside, the Highlands and Islands forms this week’s rare whisky tastings.

Angus MacRaild finds no reason to cease his love affair with old Glen Grant, as a 25-year-old example, bottled in the 1970s by Gordon & MacPhail (G&M), brims with distillery character. Despite lamenting the bottling strength of 40% abv, MacRaild is full of praise for this historical malt produced in post-war Rothes.

From Glen Grant’s citrus and cereal elegance to a meaty, earthy and punchy Sherry-matured Ledaig. Distilled in 1972 on Mull and bottled at 32 years of age by Alambic Classique, this isn’t a whisky to suit every palate, says MacRaild, but it has some serious and cerebral charm all the same.

Finally, a 12-year-old Tullibardine, distilled in 1965 and bottled by Cadenhead as part of its old Dumpy series, is deemed to be a ‘delightfully characterful old malt’. Brimming with dry, malty and more complex waxy characteristics, which is typical of the old Cadenhead bottlings, this is one Tully MacRaild recommends seeking out.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Glen Grant 25 Years Old, Bottled c.1970 (G&M)

    Glen Grant 25 Years Old, Bottled c.1970 (G&M)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A wonderfully elegant mix of old waxes, ointments, carbon paper, honey-glazed cereals, fruit rinds, some citrus marmalades, metal polish and herbal cough syrups. These older G&M Glen Grants were really something, and this one is superbly distillery character-forward. A tad soft on the nose due to the lower abv, but otherwise totally beautiful.

    Palate

    Lots of polish, beeswax, dried herbs, ointments, candied fruits, light smoky touches and hints of precious old cigars in cedar boxes. Something slightly earthy as well, with notes of mushrooms, truffle shavings and toasted nuts and seeds. Quite oily and medicinal as well. Just terrific old-school, characterful Glen Grant.

    Finish

    Pretty long, resinous and herbal. Lots of pithy citrus peels, mineral oil, old tool boxes, waxed jackets, hessian and light cereal touches in the aftertaste.

    Conclusion

    Does little to destabilise my ongoing love affair with old Glen Grants. If it was 80 proof (45.8% abv) or above, this would have been comfortably approaching a score of 92 or more.

    Right place, right time

    Strikes. Oil shortages. The three-day week. A referendum on Europe. Those were the days…

    (Image courtesy whiskyauctioneer.com)

    Advertisement

    Ledaig 32 Years Old, Distilled 1972, Cask #8721 (Alambic Classique)

    Ledaig 32 Years Old, Distilled 1972, Cask #8721 (Alambic Classique)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Burnt orange peel at first. Notes of charcoal, iodine tablets, a tiny hint of bicycle inner tube, cough medicines, salted liquorice and spices like paprika and cumin. Also some strange notes such as roast aubergine (baba ganoush?), melon and pine cones. In time it really starts to lean more towards agricultural entities like hay, silage and stables. Oily sheep’s wool, black pepper and salty olives. Pretty good, if a little all over the shop.

    Palate

    Initially very earthy and peppery. Then getting salty and much meatier – onto Bovril, Marmite, bacon and beef stock. Also there’s a slight elevation of these rubbery and agricultural notes. Tar, embrocations, bitter herbal digestives such as Jägermeister, and some tea tree oil. Pu’er tea, lime zest, some dry Madeira and salted almonds. Black coffee, long-brewed; and bitter chocolate.

    Finish

    Long, herbal, bitter, salty and rather sappy and earthy. Still a wee bounce of rubber in there.

    Conclusion

    I like it. But I suspect it’s the sort of dram that would be rather divisive among friends. The kind of whisky you can enjoy for its cerebral, as much as for its olfactory, merits, but it might take you a while to finish a whole bottle.

    Right place, right time

    Growling at a rubber badger in a muddy farmyard.

    (Image courtesy whiskyauctioneer.com)

    Tullibardine 12 Years Old, Distilled 1965 (Cadenhead)

    Tullibardine 12 Years Old, Distilled 1965 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    A curious initial mix of lighter fluid, old ink wells, aged book funk and carbon paper. Some kind of lemon jelly, paraffin, wet pebbles and baking parchment. All pretty excellent and entertaining really. Very stereotypical of the Cadenhead Dumpy range, with these wee metallic, sooty, herbal and waxy touches. Typical old-school malt whisky profile but in some rather eccentric Tullibardine garb. Gets rather grassy, with notes of gorse bush and trampled greenery with time.

    Palate

    A big sootiness, lots of olive oil, wood polish, tart gooseberry fruitiness, linseed oil, candle wax, bay leaf, marjoram and some dried mango chunks lending a lean tropical undertone to the proceedings. Pretty excellent I have to say. Wonderful bite and texture. Gets drier with time, more towards plain cereals and fatty natural maltiness. Like spooning gristy broth from an old mash tun.

    Finish

    Long and peppery, while also getting rather spicy, chalky, lemony and sooty.

    Conclusion

    Top-notch old Tullibardine from Cadenhead. Characterful, with just the right amount of muscle and bite to carry everything forwards headfirst – whatever that might mean. Excellent and worth seeking out. These old Dumpies are reminders of just how much better whisky survives when bottled above 40% abv.

    Right place, right time

    Eating a bowl of porridge while skydiving.

Advertisement
Scroll To Top