Whisky tip: As prices continue to increase, buying older whisky can be tough, what with companies having a hard time understanding what a living wage is. A single grain is usually your easiest way to purchase a whisky when you get older, and as company’s determine they can no longer abuse you for low wages.
This is what I’ve been looking at as a whisky nerd and someone who isn’t eternally youthful (turns out I’m not a vampire, AMA).
So during one of my hankerings for Lowland whiskies brought up one such single grain Dumbarton 51 1964 Douglas Laing Xtra Old Particular. Not only had I just been called out for not having enough whiskies drank from the 60s, I had also been called out for never having something over 49-years-old.
While most would laugh this off, I took it personally and therefore spent money to try an old whisky. Which in retrospect isn’t a healthy reaction at all, but this was back when my coping mechanisms were very toxic versus the just toxic levels they are now.
So what did I buy while poking out my own eye to spite my face? Why it’s a 51-year-old single grain single cask whisky from Dumbarton, a distillery I hadn’t reviewed yet at the time of buying (since then I’ve gotten to it).
So let’s imagine I was as old as I look (if someone’s being nice) and this was a birth year bottle: Would I be happy with it? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $3,078.00 SGD
Vintage: December 1964
Bottled: June 2016
Cask type: Refill Hogshead
Cask Number DL 11181
Number of bottles: 162
Colour: 7.5YR 4/6
Nose: Toffee, plum pie, fried dough, baking cake at home, roast chestnuts
Strong caramel, and then it all goes to a bakery. Not just baked goods: Strong, well developed cereal notes, fatty aspects, sweet, and even a roasty/nutty flavour. Nothing here is simple.
Also I wish I could have great plum pie again. I miss it. Pretty sure my late grandma was the one who made it, so perhaps that ship has sailed.
Taste: Violets, fleur de sel caramel, plum pie, cotton candy, mandarin orange
Floral, salty and caramel, more of that plum pie buttery/tart note, and this lighter, sharper sweet as well. More acidic and balanced than the nose here, yet keeps up to a similar complexity. Not an easy whisky.
Finish: Gingersnaps, sesame ball, taro cake, orange pekoe tea, rosewater
Long finish. Very long. Spice, nutty, more well developed cereal. Goes acidic, floral, and tannic near the end, which is a lot nicer than ending on straight sweets or baked goods.
Which is impressive given this age, the ability for it to go sideways, and the fact it’s a single cask. The finish even gives earthy elements that I can discern, where other whiskies usually just have a generic “earth” flavour.
Granted perhaps that’s due to the lack of those flavours in my own food choices.
Conclusion: Very odd selection of baked goods. Varies from sweeter, North American style sweets to more subtle, almost unsweet Asian style sweets, and everything that falls in between. However beyond these sweet and cereal developed flavours you have a lovely selection of tannins, bitter acidity, and even some spice.
That finish is so divine. Why wasn’t this perfect? It’s hard to say, because as you get to these “upper” level whiskies you have to ask about what they gave you: It all worked together, however it kept to one theme. I don’t know. If I was 51 and this was my birthday bottle, I’m not angry. I’m un-angry, if you will.
If you like sweets without going too over the top, this is your whisky.
Scotch review #1407, Lowland review #56, Whisky Network review #2084