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THE WHISKY WASH

Rare Whisky Specialist Last Drop Showcases 1969 Glenrothes Scotch Whisky

By Nino Marchetti / May 28, 2019

Last Drop Distillers has made a name for itself in recent years in whisky collector circles as a brand capable of bringing to market small batch releases of rare spirits, be it whisk(e)y or whatever else. Their acquisition by Sazerac some years back seems not to have fazed their mission at all, and now the latest fruit of their sourcing labors are a pair of Scotch single malt whisky casks laid down by the Glenrothes distillery back in 1969.

The Last Drop 1969 Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky, according to those behind it, was put into barrel back in October, 1969, at the Glenrothes distillery in Scotland’s Speyside region. Of the various casks that were laid down in that era, two ex-bourbon casks were to end up remaining undisturbed in an aging warehouse for the next half century before being “discovered” and bottled up this year. The two casks in question, #16203 and #16207, yielded just 130 and 141 bottlings, respectively, for a total of just 271 bottles being released worldwide. It is the second in an exclusive trilogy Last Drop is offering up that’s tied to older whisky from this distillery.

Last Drop 1969 Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky (image via Last Drop Distillers)

Last Drop 1969 Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky (image via Last Drop Distillers)

“We are delighted with the second of our trilogy of old Glenrothes single malts,” said the Last Drop Distillers team in a prepared statement. “Only a very fortunate few will have the chance to sample these exceptional spirits, which are wonderful examples of fine distilling from the 1960s. Each sip transports you back to the heady days of flower power, when revolution was in the air, and on the radio. We commend to all those who truly appreciate the scent and taste of a magnificent old Scotch from a bygone era. You will not be disappointed.”

Plans call for a boxed set for each bottle, holding not just the full size expression itself but also a signature 50ml miniature replica and pocket sized, leather bound tasting book with additional pages for your personal tasting notes. Each set is pricing at $6,250. It should be noted that, despite being sibling casks, there are said to be “similar aromatic profiles, but Cask no. 16203 appears drier and less fruity, with snuffed candle at the base, whereas Cask no. 16207 has a smooth texture, with a sweet and sour taste and a long, warming finish.”

FORBES

Best New Whiskies To Drink This Spring

BRAD JAPHE

This spring is an especially auspicious time for whisky enthusiasts seeking something new. On shelf at your local liquor store are a parade of labels you probably haven't seen before. Many of them are worth taking home with you. And since these releases run the gamut of prices--ranging from the cost of two tickets to movie night all the way up to the re-sale value of a lightly used car--there's something to satisfy every budget. Here's a look at the season's most exciting offerings, and what you can expect to taste when you're ready to pour.

The Last Drop Distillers 1969 Glenrothes Single Malt Whisky -- $6,250

If budgetary constraints are of no concern, you ought to consider the newest release from The Last Drop. The London-based company is a connoisseur's dream brought to life; dedicated to the procurement of impossibly rare stocks of aged spirit that will never exist again. This month they unveiled a 50-year-old Speyside malt sourced entirely from two casks at the Glenrothes distillery. The first barrel yielded just 130 bottles of whisky. The second, 141. So an allotment of only 271 will make its way across the globe. If you're lucky enough to snag one you can expect smooth texture, light hints of cigar smoke, and the ineffable umami complexities that only half a century's worth of maturation can deliver.

1969 GLENROTHES SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY, CASKS 16203 & 16207  THE LAST DROP DISTILLERS

1969 GLENROTHES SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY, CASKS 16203 & 16207

THE LAST DROP DISTILLERS

ROBB REPORT

These Experimental Distilleries Are Using Science to Artificially Age Whiskies

From sound-waves to pulses, nothing is off limits.

BY JEMIMA SISSONS

MAY 9, 2019

Something is afoot on the banks of the Kentucky River. In a soot-covered building called Warehouse P, an experiment is taking place: Hundreds of barrels filled with bourbon and whiskey lie in somnolent rows. The temperature is a constantly frigid 45 degrees. And time, it seems, is slowing down.

Warehouse P is the love child of Buffalo Trace (aka the maker of some of our favourite whiskeys, such as Pappy Van Winkle) and Last Drop Distillers, a London-based spirits company that specializes in unearthing old and rare casks. The duo has come together amid the Frankfort uplands with a common goal: to bring Scotland’s cool conditions, which are ideal for slow and even whiskey maturation, to American spirits.

Kentucky’s drastic temperatures, which fluctuate between 100 degrees in the summer and 0 degrees in the winter, have a mercurial effect on the ageing process of spirits. Warm weather pulls the resting liquid deep into the barrel staves, exposing it to the character of the wood, while cold weather pushes the liquid back out, imbuing the flavours of oak into its makeup. The ever-changing alchemy makes over-ageing a risk—and it’s the reason most bourbons are aged between four and 12 years. By regulating the temperature year-round, however, Warehouse P has the potential to craft the oldest whiskeys in American history.

“American bourbons that have been matured for up to 50 years simply do not exist,” says Rebecca Jago, joint managing director of Last Drop. “We’re hoping to achieve something that has previously been impossible: super-aged, high-quality and delicious American whiskeys.” Patience will no doubt be a requirement in this lengthy (and costly) trial: Last Drop doesn’t intend to release its first bottle for at least 25 years—and what it will taste like is anybody’s guess. Says Jago: “This is clearly an experiment and, as such, the outcome cannot be guaranteed.”

Last Drop isn’t the only mad scientist in spirits. Other distillers are tinkering with the ageing process with the reverse intention: to mature whiskey in only a few years—or a few minutes. Halfway around the world in Israel, Milk & Honey is betting that the hot and humid climate of Tel Aviv can produce a (nearly) proper whiskey in record time. Last year, its Young Single Malt—which matured for months, not years—won second place at the Whisky Live Tel Aviv show. The awarded spirit is so young, in fact, it can’t even technically be called a whisky—that term is reserved for liquids that have been aged a minimum of three years—but its smoky, complex flavours have garnered fans nonetheless.

Venturing further into science-fair territory, meanwhile, are Chris Mendenhall’s whiskeys and bourbons, which the master mixologist “ages” at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington, DC’s Quadrant bar using sound waves. “I discovered that sound waves could accelerate ageing,” he says, explaining that the waves “push” the liquid through the wood of the barrels to change the qualities of the spirit. “It led me to research distilleries and whiskey makers who are using advanced technology, such as pressure and sound waves, to expedite the ageing process.” Mendenhall’s first release, Bourbon Style #1, is a 120-proof, 9-year-old Kentucky bourbon “base spirit” that’s been exposed to 20,000 pulses per second over 30 1977 1989 minutes in his customized homogenizer. The result is a richer and more rounded spirit that tastes years beyond its age.

Of course, not everyone is on board with these spirited experiments. Bourbon and whiskey purists, not to mention organizations like the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), remain skeptical that the ageing process can—or should—be manipulated. “For many years, people have attempted to speed up the ageing process, because time is money,” says Frank Coleman, a senior vice president at DISCUS. “But most have been unsuccessful because we are talking about a natural process.”

That said, we raise a glass to the spirit of adventure.

Israel’s Milk & Honey is making fast work of ageing spirits.

Israel’s Milk & Honey is making fast work of ageing spirits.

THE MANUAL

You’ll Have to Pay Big for 1 of the 271 Bottles of

1969 Glenrothes Scotch

Sazerac

Sazerac

Ultra-luxury Scotch whiskies are, as you know if you’re a consistent reader of The Manual, a fairly common occurrence (when you think about how many distilleries there used to be, how many still exist, and other factors). Not that each individual luxury whisky is common, though. The newest release from Last Drop Distillers, a Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch from 1969, is a testament to that, with a total release of only 271 bottles.

This is the second in a trilogy of Glenrothes releases from their spirits collection. The first release was the 1968 Single Malt Scotch Whisky. The current release includes bottling from two casks, laid down 50 years ago in the Speyside region of Scotland. Most of the barrels from the distillation were included in previous, younger bottles of Glenrothes, but Last Drop Distillers acquired these exclusive ex-bourbon barrels years later.

Bottled early this year, one of the casks filled 130, while the other poured 141. With just 271 bottles available, the Scotch will have the (steep) suggested retail price of $6,250.

“We are delighted with the second of our trilogy of old Glenrothes single malts,” a statement from Last Drop Distillers reads. “Only a very fortunate few will have the chance to sample these exceptional spirits, which are wonderful examples of fine distilling from the 1960s. Each sip transports you back to the heady days of flower power when revolution was in the air and on the radio. We commend to all those who truly appreciate the scent and taste of a magnificent old Scotch from a bygone era. You will not be disappointed.”

Esteemed whisky writer Charles Maclean provided tasting notes for the exclusive bottles. Despite similar aromas, Cask No. 16203 “appears less fruity, with snuffed candle at the base.” Cask No. 16207 “has a smooth texture, with sweet and sour taste and a long, warming finish.”

Cask No. 16207 also received some honors from Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2019, including Best Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask) and Best Single Malt 41 Years & Over.

Those who can shell out more than six grand for a bottle of whisky can check out where they’re being held on the Last Drop Distillers website.

It’s the 15th release for Last Drop Distillers in 11 years. Other releases include cognacs and bourbon, but the brand largely concentrates on Scotch whiskies. Last Drop was acquired by Sazerac Company in 2016, but remains on a quest to discover rare spirits to offer the public, so don’t expect the expensive, rare bottles to stop rolling out anytime soon.


FORBES

Apr 27, 2019

Score A Bottle Of 50-Year-Old Scotch

Jeanne O'Brien Coffey

Back in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon. The Beatles performed their last gig together. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 800. And two barrels of single malt Glenrothes Scotch were filled and rolled into a dark corner of a warehouse to rest for nearly 50 years. Until a company of sleuths who specialize in finding old and rare spirits uncovered the surprising treat. Last Drop Distillers, which finds and resells aged spirits, is offering what would be a pretty amazing gift for a Scotch lover turning 50.

The two casks yielded different flavor profiles -- pick up a bottle of each for a cool $12,500.

The two casks yielded different flavor profiles -- pick up a bottle of each for a cool $12,500.

Glenrothes is a Speyside distillery founded in 1878. In the 1960s, the company tended to blend its whiskys, as much of the 1968 vintage was (the distillery also continues to contribute some whisky to Famous Grouse, among others, while having focused more on vintages in recent years). These two ex-bourbon casks escaped blending for the next fifty years, maturing in the back of the Glenrothes warehouse, according to Last Drop. Now they’ve managed to get 309 750 ml bottles from the two, making them available to the more deep-pocketed enthusiasts for $6,250 a bottle through a limited number of sellers worldwide.

Uncovering casks full of still-drinkable spirits is rare, the company reports, noting that not all spirits age well, and too long in wood can ruin a fine spirit. But occasionally all the elements – original distillate, type of wood, the climate for storage – combine to produce an unlikely miracle.

1969 was a memorable year in Scotland: Church of Scotland ordained its first women,  and Glasgow went to the Euro Cup finals. Interestingly, while the two whisky casks were filled the same day in October 1969, they have slight different flavor profiles, according to those who have tasted them (I, alas, am not one of them).

Charming gift for the Scotch lover or anyone turning 50 this year.

Charming gift for the Scotch lover or anyone turning 50 this year.

Charles Maclean, a well-known whisky writer, says that both casks display similar aromatic profiles, but Cask no. 16203 appears drier and less fruity, with snuffed candle at the base, whereas sibling Cask no. 16207 has a smooth texture, with a sweet and sour taste and a long, warming finish. Overachieving Cask no. 16207 has also been awarded the Best Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask), and the Best Single Malt 41 Years & Over (Single Cask) by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2019.

If 1969 isn't your year, Last Drop has some 1970 they plan to release through 2020. The company's collection also includes rare cognac and bourbon.