Friday, 10 January 2014

The Last Drop 50 Year Old

Nature's beauty: A 50ml bottle of The Last Drop resting on a lily pad
Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:
The Last Drop 50 Year Old
Blended whisky


Delicate and buttery 
Near perfect
Best served:

Rich, dense, caremalised fructose sugars, European Oak, polished wood, tannic dark chocolate, fortified wine notes, dark dried fruit, rich fruit cake, caremalised whole cherries, mild coffee bean, whipped butter, herbal, vanilla, cigar tobacco and dried grassy notes 

Only 388 bottles of this whisky have been produced, making this the smallest offering from The Last Drop. It is a blend of 82 whiskies which began maturing together in the marrying vat 50 years ago. The whisky was actually supposed to be bottled once it reached 12 years of age, but three casks of this whisky were forgotten until one of the casks was selected to be bottled as The Last Drop 50 Year Old by three spirit industry legends – James Espey, Peter Fleck and Tom Jago. These three men have a combined experience of 120 years in the spirits trade, and that wealth of experience certainly shows in the exceptional balance and quality of this 50 year old whisky. If practice makes perfect, these three men have certainly come close to choosing a great whisky... pity for me it takes 120 years! 

There are five things I enjoy about The Last Drop 50 Year Old blended Scotch whisky. First, it is one of the smoothest spirits I have tasted and its flavours express themselves with sublime balance and harmony. Cognac drinkers will in my view appreciate this balance and finesse. Second, despite its age of 50 years, it offers vibrancy, energy and the punch of a delightful 50.9% ABV which means that all its complexity ignites on the palate without any semblance of fatigue. Third, its flavours are good with a heavy (and ridiculously complex) oak driven character (which is to be expected with such an old whisky). Fourth, while this liquid matured in an oak barrel for 50 years it would have also been slowly evapourating so it is a wonder there is much of this liquid magic left! 

It is not all sunshine and rainbows, as my most recent tasting showed. There is a mild off note I cannot quite identify, which struck me as stale and almost moldy. It is mild, but noticeable. 

Tasting notes:
Nose: With a single whiff the most complex oak influence I have encountered is unleashed. Fortified wine soaked wood leads the gushes of oak driven character, with layers of polished wood and the darkest chocolate interlaced with the bitter-sweet herbaceous smell of a freshly opened thick cigar and drying grass in the distance. All this bitterness is brightened by plummy dried fruit, gentle shades of crushed eucalyptus leaves, the soothing aroma of a light fluffy croissant with a dusting of nutmeg and dark whole cherries and a vanilla pod caremalised in a dash of Cognac and caster sugar. The bouquet on this whisky is fresh and vibrant, and yet exhibits all the complexity you could wish for in an old whisky. 

Taste: This is one of the smoothest and most delicate spirits I have tasted - a tad strange though, with a peculiar stale note I cannot quite put my finger on. As this whisky hits the palate it offers a brief interlude of buttered spiced loaf and then suddenly explodes into a soft haze that gently resettles on the base of the tongue. That is when the magic happens. A foray of tannic dark chocolate (for example, made from Arriba beans) is interlaced with hints of coffee and crushed hazelnuts, and balancing against the surges of European Oak is a buttered rich and dense fruit cake falling apart with dark dried fruit (prune, dates, blackcurrant, raisins etc) and some key ingredients of a classic Buccellato – an Italian cake that can be made with lots of raisins, marsala, herbal anise seed and vanilla. This is a rich and energetic whisky that enlivens the palate, and keeps it buzzing with complex twists and turns. 

Finish: This feels as though I just licked the inside of a very old sherry cask. The wood has a mildly drying effect on the finish, but the sweet winy sugars soften the rich dark chocolate notes with Christmas cake and the burst of glazed cherry.



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