Once in a while Gordon & MacPhail surprises us with some of the oldest single malts ever bottled. The latest addition to their prestigious Private Collection range is this Glenlivet 1949.
This whisky was laid down in a refill sherry butt on New Year’s Day 1949. Over seven decades old, this is their last 1949 cask from Glenlivet distillery. It still offers enough punch at 49.3% ABV (cask strength).
For me personally it is the oldest whisky I’ve had, taking the crown from the Glen Grant 1948 from the same bottler.
The Glenlivet 74 yo 1949 (49,3%, Gordon & MacPhail 2023, refill sherry butt #11, 192 btl.)
Nose: a highly integrated blend of ancient leather-bound books, faded dried wildflowers, spearmint and stewed tropical fruits. Hints of satsumas, melons, papaya and orange peels. Then various waxes and polishes. Herbal balm (especially menthol) and hints of Spanish cedar. Beautiful whiffs of pipe tobacco in the background, maybe even a puff of smoke. I’m getting drops of Manzanilla Pasada (autolysis) as well. Not that we expected it, but there’s no sign of tiredness, this is lovely.
Mouth: quite a spicy arrival, more intense than I expected. Black peppercorns, aniseed and punchy peppermint. This moves towards tobacco and a dark side of wood char. Cigar boxes again. Then a softer side of herbal honey and fruit cake appears, alongside liquorice, echoes of cocoa and hints of sweetened black tea. Lots of After Eights in the end plus tiny touches of old copper.
Finish: long, still very minty, with lots of herbal touches. Then also a nutty dryness and some tannins in the very end, along with a spoonful of dark honey.
This kind of whisky is nothing new to Gordon & MacPhail, but I can’t help feeling impressed (and humble) over and over again. Once you go beyond 40-50 years of age, the tasting notes become very similar too, in my opinion (especially for Speyside whisky). That said, this Glenlivet 1949 is a particularly aromatic and flawless example of how complex whisky can be, and how well it can withstand time with proper care. The suggested retail price for this masterpiece is £35,000. It can be ordered from Gordon & MacPhail directly.