It is hardly surprising that the whisky selected for Vintage Bottlers’ debut offering should be among the most complex of single malts. Distilled on the coast in the Nothern reaches of the Highland region, this 30-year-old rendition of a spirit that has proudly borne its label on the bottle for 200 years, combines the very best of its topical tradition with a powerful Maritime influence.
Strange to think that such a revered name in the long annals of Scotch whisky should only exist because in the early 19th century, an English nobleman married into top-drawer Scottish aristocracy and founded a distillery in 1819 merely to find a profitable use for the barley grown on his estate, and to deliver a knockout blow to the local moonshiners.
If it took some time for the reputation of the brand to break out to a wider public, it was only because for much of its existence since the distillery was rebuilt and production was expanded in 1967, now capable of producing just under 5 million litres a year, the malt has been a staple component of one of the world’s most successful blends, and in particular, the premium version. The reason why becomes all too apparent the moment the stopper is removed from the bottle.
With the sea to one side, and extensive meadows to the other, floral notes coupled with a strong brine dominate the fragrance which some commentators also liken to dark chocolate or mahogany. The palate of flavours is decidedly muscular; waxy being an oft-used description. There is a biscuity element with a strong backdrop of candied ginger, prunes and a further sea-borne tang. The long finish is perhaps surprisingly cool, with a suggestion of menthol and liquorice.
Vintage Bottlers are proud indeed that our first release should be such a ‘big’ statement whisky; sure to find a home in any collection that includes the finest examples of the distiller operating at the very zenith of his art. It is a dram that will delight all those who seek excellence in their appreciation of this precious gift of the Scottish Highlands.