High Spirits Spotlights: Dream Drams
Whether it’s as an investment, a celebration of that special occasion, or the start of a budding collection, a little education on old and rare whiskies can never go amiss. The Whisky Exchange offer up some solid recommendations for your next (or first) big purchase
The more time a whisky spends in a cask, the more the spirit will interact with the oak and develop in flavour. As the spirit slowly evaporates over time and each cask yields only a limited number of bottles, these gems become rarer and more exclusive. Over the decades, the way that whisky is produced has also changed, and old whiskies can be a window into history. Discovering and celebrating the often-forgotten character of whiskies from the past is an exciting exploration. We asked Sukhinder Singh, co-founder and owner of The Whisky Exchange, to share some of his favourite old and rare whiskies, each with their own very different characteristics. TWE
Aberlour 1964 / 25 years old / Aberlour / 70cl / 40% / £1,200
This Aberlour is an old bottling from the late 1980s, a time when the distillery realised that it had hidden gems deep in its Speyside warehouses. It’s one of the distillery’s early vintage releases, something that wasn’t very common at the time.
“Aberlour is famed for maturing its whiskies in sherry casks, and this was distilled in the 1960s during its golden era of production. A lovely soft and sherried malt.”
Glenury Royal 1970 / 36 years Old / Glenury Royal / 75cl / 43% / £750
This is one of only a handful of long-aged, distillery-bottled releases of Glenury Royal, making this 1970-vintage a very special whisky from a long-closed distillery. Impeccable cask selection has led to this being perhaps the best of Diageo’s releases from the distillery.
“A whisky from a lost distillery that closed in 1985; one that should never have closed. A fruity malt with sandalwood and dried fruit. A classy dram.”
Longmorn 1967 / 45 years old / Gordon & MacPhail / 70cl / 43% / £1000
An incredibly priced Longmorn, bottled by Gordon & MacPhail from their well-stocked warehouses. Distilled in 1967 and matured in sherry casks, this is a very complex malt, layered with fruit and spice from almost a half-century in oak.
“One of my favourite distilleries, a malt that has matured beautifully over a long period of time.”
Glen Grant 1951 / 62 years old / Gordon & MacPhail / 70cl / 40% / £2,800
This is an exceptionally rare bottling that yet again comes from Gordon & MacPhail’s unbeaten stocks of whisky across Scotland, including some of the best casks of Glen Grant in existence.
“Super-aged malts today are incredibly difficult to find, and their prices are usually in the tens of thousands of pounds. This bottling from 2013 is matured in sherry casks, creating an elegant and complex, sherried malt.”
Dream Dram Destinations
Not quite ready to take the plunge on a full bottle? Discover the best places in the country to try a dram of old and rare whisky
The Devil’s Advocate, Edinburgh
Hidden away in the historic and atmospheric Old Town of Edinburgh, The Devil’s Advocate is an attractive space set with bare brick, old stone and cosy booths. By all accounts, it’s the perfect place to savour a dram. The alluringly well-stocked bar boasts more than 400 whiskies and features many rare, one-off bottlings, with new additions appearing every week.
Boisdale of Canary Wharf, London
Set on the second floor of the Canary Wharf favourite, Boisdale’s whisky bar is a 12-metre long ‘glowing amber wall of liquid gold’ with 1000 whiskies to ponder over. Fortunately, there’s a team of knowledgeable bartenders to lead you through the extensive whisky menu full of old and rare drams to try.
The Pot Still, Glasgow
Specialising in whisky, the 150-year-old bar boasts more than 700 bottles in an idyllic setting, with dark woods, vintage seats and Victorian features, as well as good beer. The owners go to extreme lengths to get hold of the rarest malts and ensure that each visitor is matched up with their perfect dram.