Thursday, May 7, 2009

First (and Last) Taste: The Last Drop

This week, two of the self-proclaimed "Three Old Farts" were in town, sharing a taste from the remains of their extremely unusual blended Scotch whisky, The Last Drop. The two - James Espey and Tom Jago - are best known for their development of Baileys Irish Cream, though they were also instrumental in developing Johnnie Walker Blue Label among other Scotch whisky concepts, and if The Last Drop is any indication, whisky is where their hearts reside. The Last Drop is unmistakably unusual in its price - $2,000 per bottle - but its pedigree is equally odd. A variety - 70 malts and 12 grains - of whiskies, distilled in 1960 and aged 12 years, were re-barreled in Sherry casks in 1972...and then, apparently, forgotten. The decade of the 1970s wasn't the best time for the Scotch whisky business, which might explain how the three casks were left in a dark corner of a warehouse at Auchentoshan in the Scottish Lowlands, like umbrellas overlooked at a restaurant door at the end of a spring shower. The contents of the barrels reduced by two-thirds - not only the angels but the devils seem to have taken their share - and about 1,350 bottles-worth are left.

The Old Farts were willing to share a dram with me, and here are my notes: The color of endlessly polished walnut with a dim green light at the edges, the first sniffs of the spirit confuse - is this Cognac? Armagnac? What? Lots of rancio - nutty and umami-ish - and moderate spiciness (mace rather than cinnamon, nutmeg rather than clove) then emerge, though after about five minutes, the aromas shift to pecan pie and maple syrup, part of an constantly altering array of smells - chocolate, leather, figs, rum-soaked raisins. It tastes surprisingly fresh and alive, hard to figure for one so old. Sherry (oloroso? palo cortado?) shows everywhere, but modestly and sprightly, not in the way some single malts are overwhlemed by the sweetness of Pedro Ximenez Sherries. The whisky dances across the palate, with new flavors of passion fruit, kumquat and old leather joining the aromas mentioned above. It's light but long on the finish, insanely refined and a new benchmark for old Scotch.

Only 350 bottles were sent to the U.S., and few are left, if you've got a spare two grand lying around. The Farts are looking for more, though, so keep alert if money's no object. (Imported by Infinium Spirits.)

My score: 10

1 comment:

  1. I found a bottle if you're interested.