Glen Keith 38yo 1967/2006 (53%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, for La Maison Du Whisky, Refill Sherry Butt #3876, 215 bottles)

And then there is Glen Keith. Glen Keith lies a stone’s throw away from Strathisla. The spirit from Strathisla was pumped to Glen Keith for filling into casks, but also the boiler at Glen Keith warms water for Glen Keith’s production. Glen Keith’s production started in 1958 with three stills (triple distillation). In 1970 the first two stills in Scotland that are heated by gas were installed. Soon after that, the distillery stopped the triple distillation. In 1983 a sixth still is installed. The distillery is mothballed since 1999, but plans are to restart the distillery next month (April 2013).

Chivas Brothers (owned by Pernod Ricard) already opened two of their mothballed distilleries. Allt a-Bhainne in May 2005 and Braeval (a.k.a. Braes of Glenlivet) in July 2008. If memory serves me well, Chivas Brothers also have Imperial. Alas, Imperial was considered not economically viable for reopening. (It was “old” and had the ‘wrong’ capacity, to small for a company like Chivas), so Chivas presented plans in 2012 for a new distillery to be built at the site of the old Imperial distillery. So the demolition of Imperial started around december 2012 and is now also gone for good.

Color: Copper, cloudy.

Nose: Musty Sherry with a lot of wood. Dried oranges, and sugared orange skin. Crushed dead insects, well they really don’t make them like this anymore! Cloves which fits the orange skin perfectly. Mocha with orange cordial. A forest in the rain. Oak planks. A Whisky with character.

Taste: Old bottle effect. Very spicy oak but not over oaked. It’s heavy on the wood but that not a bad thing here. A lot of wood and paper. Along comes wood spice and some bitterness. It is so clearly a Whisky from another time, that this one needs it. Luckily the rest of the body is quite ‘heavy’ too, but not in your face. It’s a rather quiet malt. Hot butter, sugared oranges and some coal. It actually is pretty sweet, but the sweetness is hidden well behind the wood and oranges. A bottled antiques shop with a long warming finish.

This is now my favorite Christmas malt. Just smell that dried Orange in combination with the cloves. It’s not a perfect old bottle though, but it’s so clearly a time capsule. It’s impossible to not love this. I was always a big fan of Strathisla of the sixties and seventies and this Glen Keith is therefore really no surprise at all. Merry Christmas everybody!

Points: 92

Glenfiddich 32yo 1974/2006 (47.3%, OB, Private Vintage, for La Maison Du Whisky, Cask #10260, 198 bottles)

Let’s continue with Glenfiddich. Known for their big out turn and fairly priced Whiskies. No cheap entry-level Glenfiddich this time, like the 12yo “Special Reserve” I reviewed earlier, but a super-duper premium Glenfiddich that costs a fortune these days. Cask number 10260 was bottled for the 50th anniversary of La Maison du Whisky. Who hasn’t visited one of their fabulous shops in Paris & Saint-Denis (France) or Singapore? There are a few pretty great 1974 Glenfiddich bottled, even one for Playboy (Cask #10245) and H.M. Queen Elizabeth II (of U.K. fame). So not a bad club to belong to. Here Majesty’s Cask was #2336 (not quite a sister cask of the Playboy one, I would say). Or maybe Glenfiddich filled a lot of casks in 1974. Who knows?

Color: Full and dull gold.

Nose: Old bottle. Oceanic and creamy. Wow. Musky and organic, with fatty old wood (not dry wood) mixed with newer plywood. Clay. Absolutely stunning wood smell. Smelling this you know you have something special on your hands. When smelling this for a prolonged time, you get in the territory of cardboard that has been added to the wood that is more upfront. Through the wood and the cardboard is also something clean, fresh and lively like lemongrass, cola, mint and old lemon skins, but also the more heavy shoe polish and clean wax. Great complexity and balance.

Taste: Again old bottle. Spicy toffee with clay. It’s sweet and has hardly any wood at first! Full mouth. Chewy and waxy. Fantastic. Slightly sour, somewhat thin and papery finish, and the wood came in late, but it is there. It’s more the spice from wood, than the wood itself. Clean and elegant.

Well, obviously you can’t really compare the über-standard 12yo to this, can you? Because all the time when I was trying this, you can clearly see where this is coming from, and it does have a big family resemblance. This definitely is the father of the 12yo.

Points: 91

Glen Grant 49yo 1956/2005 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for La Maison du Whisky, Refill Sherry Butt, 459 bottles)

I just had to write another one about Glen Grant. Do I really have to revert to Gordon & MacPhail to find me a good Glen Grant? There are a lot of great Glen Grants around, but are they bottles of the past maybe? Here I have another Glen Grant that as it turns out ís from Gordon & MacPhail. Will it be good or do Gordon & MacPhail also have some mediocre casks? This one is bottled for La Maison du Whisky who usually pick good casks, so no need to worry, this probably will turn out all right. Besides, this is no 70’s Glen Grant, but a 1956. The year Alfred Hitchcock became American and made “The man who knew too much”.

Color: Copper Brown

Nose: Wow, this I like. This is the old sherry, with tar, licorice, clay and coal nose that I like so much! It’s farmy (which is not elegant) and has elegant wood. Spicy and winey-sweet. Dark fruits lemonade all over this. Raisins in the finish after leaving it to breathe a little. It’s a nose like this that make me live up to my blues-name: Fat Killer Jenkins, because I wouldn’t mind having a few cases of whisky that smell like this.

Taste: Very balanced because it’s the nose in diluted form. Sherry, tar and asphalt, Black fruits with a lot of wood and a hint of cardboard. Luckily the main character is so powerful, that it is capable of masking a lot of the wood. You just know it’s there on your tongue and you’ll notice it in the finish. But then again, it’s so old, that it should be there and it fits the profile. It has a lot of wood but it doesn’t make the finish overly bitter nor harsh. Not overly complex though, like a nice old cognac.

The not so sound statistical and scientific conclusion might be that you’ll have to get yourself a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of Glen Grant if you want a good one. Well as I said there are a lot of other good Glen Grants around. We’ll have to keep searchin’ to find us one, but for the time being we’ll have this Gordon & MacPhail 1956, and that’s no punishment! The nose is to die for, that alone is worth almost a 100 points. But the whole I will score…

Points: 91

There is also a second one for LMdW. Also a 1956/2005, only this one is from a First Fill Sherry Hogshead that yielded 105 bottles.

Many thanks also go to Christian Lauper of World of Whisky who sent me the picture of the back-label. As far as I know, this shop is the only one in Europe who still has this bottle on stock (CHF 509.00).