Dear Malt Messenger Subscribers,
The Kensington Wine Market is thrilled to announce it will be stocking bottles of the Gordon & MacPhail Generations Glenlivet 70 Year (tied for the world’s oldest whisky ever bottled) beginning in mid August. The release of this 1940 vintage 70 year old Glenlivet is exciting enough, but made even more so because Gordon & MacPhail is also releasing five vintage bottlings of Glenlivet, one each from the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. Collectively, this release represents six decades in the history of one of Scotland’s most well know distilleries. That it is Gordon & MacPhail who bottled these Glenlivets, and not the distillery, is a testament to the special relationship which has long existed between the two firms. That and the fact that no other company in the world has had the patience and vision to mature whisky to such advanced ages.
This exciting new 70 year old whisky will be exclusive to the Kensington Wine Market in Canada (save for Airport Duty Free shops). We are also the only retail liquor store in the country who will be receiving the five Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Decades and Five Decade Set. This is a very exciting opportunity for the Kensington Wine Market, and one that can’t go unmarked. To celebrate the occasion we are having a event to initiate the launch. We are very pleased to be hosting Michael Urquhart, Co-managing Director of Gordon & MacPhail, for a very rare and exclusive tasting of the Glenlivet 70 Year as well as each of the Five Decades bottlings. On August 25, twenty lucky individuals will have the opportunity to sample this unique range in what is, without doubt, a once in a lifetime tasting opportunity. Initially I was projecting a cost upwards of $400 for this unique experience, but thanks to the generosity of Michael and Gordon & MacPhail, we can offer it for just $200/person. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a local charity. There is much more below on the Glenlivets and the tasting.
In addition to the exciting news above, we also have a couple of whiskies in stock right now which I’ve been dying to write about for months: The Alberta Premium 30 Year and Highland Park St. Magnus have been on our radar for the last 3-4 months, and while I’ve wanted to make light of them in the Malt Messenger, the fact of the matter is, we’ve had far more demand than supply. Well, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, as the saying goes and I’ve been squeaking in the ear of my Beam Global Canada rep for the better part of the last 3 months. Products like these two are allocated, meaning only certain stores can buy them. We were given generous allocations, but ones too small to meet the demand of our extensive customer base. Other stores were given allocations too, and some of them didn’t appreciate what they’d been given, so the cases sat, and sat and sat. Over the last few months Beam has been reallocating a few cases of each here and there, as they emptied the allocations of those taking too long, putting some of them in ours. But it still wasn’t enough. Demand was outstripping supply, until now. For the first time since these two whiskies were released I finally have enough to put some on the floor and provide the Malt Messenger Diaspora with tasting notes. They are both excellent whiskies, and I’ve included more info on both below. Don’t hesitate. They may both be sold by the weekend!
I hope you enjoyed this Malt Messenger Bulletin! Stay tuned for the next full Malt Messenger with another big announcement, and the balance of my Closed Distilleries of Scotland feature, in about two weeks time.
PS-Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter for more timely updates at twitter.com/scotch_guy..
GORDON & MACPHAIL GLENLIVET GENERATIONS TASTING – Thursday August 25th, 7PM – $200
To celebrate the launch of Gordon & MacPhail’s Generations Glenlivet 70 Year and the Private Collection Glenlivet Decades we will be hosting the most exclusive whisky tasting of 2011 on Thursday August 25th! We will be sampling six whiskies representing six decades in the life of the Glenlivet distillery, including a 1940 vintage 70 year old expression. Along with the Mortlach 70 year old Gordon & MacPhail released last year, this is the oldest whisky ever bottled! When I first started looking at this tasting I was forecasting a per person price tag of $500+, but thanks to the generosity of Gordon & MacPhail we’ll be able to do much better than that. Michael Urquhart, Joint Managing Director of Gordon & MacPhail, is making a special trip to Calgary for this amazing tasting event. Michael has generously agreed to bring with him bottles of the 70 year old Glenlivet, as well as the 1954 and 1963 Private Collection Glenlivet vintages. Thanks to his generosity we are pleased to be able to offer 20 people the chance to take part in this once in a lifetime tasting for just $200/person, a considerable amount of which will be going to charity! Our charity of choice for this event is the Children’s Hospital Aid Society or CHAS.
The tasting will take place here at the Kensington Wine Market at 7PM on Thursday August 25th. Participants will be lead through the tasting of the six whiskies by Michael Urquhart, and will all be given a special whisky glass to take home with them. Participants will also have a chance to bid on a special signed press pack containing a book and samples of each of the six whiskies. 100% of the proceeds from this item will be going to our chosen charity. Tickets for this event will go quickly, we’ve already sold 7 of the 20 spaces to people in the know. Tickets can be purchased in store, over the phone at 403-283-8000 and online at https://www.kensingtonwinemarket.com/tastings/register.php..
GORDON & MACPHAIL GLENLIVET GENERATIONS 1940 70 YEAR OLD – $21,999.99(700m) $5,999.99(200ml)
Gordon & MacPhail is unique not just among independent bottlers, but among all whisky companies in Scotland, in that it has great vision for and patience with its whisky stocks. Save for Glenfarclas no other company in the whisky industry is even close to possessing Gordon & MacPhail’s depth of old maturing whisky stocks. When Macallan launched their Fine and Rare line of vintage single malts a decade ago, rumour has it most of the casks came from Gordon & MacPhail. In the case of Glenfarclas their stocks go back only to the 1950’s, but Gordon & MacPhail has casks from the 1940’s and even a few from the late 1930’s. That’s how it’s been able to release not one, but two different 70 year old whiskies within the last year.
Only 100 700ml decanters of this rare whisky and 175 of the 200ml variety are being released worldwide. The whisky, filled into cask in 1940 at the height of the Battle of Britain, has been bottled at its natural cask strength of 45.9% after maturing 70 years in a single First Fill Sherry Butt. The hand blown crystal decanters are in the shape of a tear and have a British Hallmarked silver stopper. The decanter is cradled in a sterling silver base, in a bespoke Scottish Elm box handmade in Scotland.
I had a chance to sample the whisky in March at a whisky show in Las Vegas, and will reproduce my tasting note below along with those of Malt Advocate and Lawrence Graham of Whisky Intelligence.
Lawrence Graham, Whisky Intelligence: “The nose is refined, speaks of some age (although not of 70 years), hints of heather, sherry, plump raisins and some fruit in the form of apricots and lychee. There’s also some oak spice an hints of pepper however this is very subtle. Hints of bees wax, a waft of tobacco (like walking down wind of a curing shed). Some hand warming brings out some malt which nicely ties everything together. The aromas are really a delight and the more times spent in the glass the more that is revealed; all it takes is a little hand warming and the myriad of delicate aromas waft up. It really is quite sensational. The taste is honeyed but also has an immediate malt delivery quickly followed by some oak notes (oak spiciness, a little leather and tobacco) followed by the fruit. Some moments later it turns a little dry along with some banana (but more like they’ve flambéed). Once again quite sensational. Well done. The finish is quite long and very representative of the afore mentioned descriptors in the nose and the taste. It’s quite long and holds together very well, it doesn’t go off in some unhappy direction. Perhaps a hint of smoke at the tail end?” 91pts
“Gordon & MacPhail Generations: The Glenlivet 70 year old, 45.9% You would expect any 70 year old whisky to be crepuscular, dense, and wooded. Not here. The nose is amazingly fresh — distillery character fully intact — with layers of rancio and heavy florals. In time, there’s candle wax, vanilla, milk chocolate, and a touch of leather, even the whiff of a soft mink stole. Concentrated and complex. The palate is like an ancient vin santo with oxidized nuttiness, quince and medlar, and subtle peat. Hugely expressive on the palate, with a sweet finish. Truly remarkable.” – Dave Broom 90pts
Gordon & MacPhail Generation Glenlivet 70 Year – 45.9% – 100 Numbered Bottles – My Tasting Note: Nose: peaches and cream, mulled fruits, hard candies and fruit leather with some deft Christmas Cake notes; it is like opening a fresh bag of assorted jujubes on a new leather sofa, and there is something vaguely smoky (it was after all the war years and coal was in high demand); Palate: soft and so, so delicate, surprisingly some soft smoky notes to start with more peaches and cream and the softest-warming-buttery fruit imaginable; it becomes richer as the palate develops with brown sugar and spices: cinnamon, cardamom, clove and ginger; leather and tobacco notes also develop but remain delicate and smooth; there are so many layers to this whisky: citrus, smoke, soft coating oils and much, much, more; nutty tones and vanilla; I can’t believe how gentle this whisky is, and how soft the oak; Finish: long and warming, sweet with subtle spice and nutty oak, my palate is moist, damp and coated with soft oils; Comments: much more than I ever expected a 70 year old whisky could be and more complex and far less oaky than expected!
GORDON & MACPHAIL PRIVATE COLLECTION GLENLIVET DECADES
As mentioned above, we are also receiving five vintages of Glenlivet representing five decades in the history of the distillery, six when combined with the seventy year old. Here are some details on those bottlings:
Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glenlivet 5 Decade Set – 50 Sets Available World Wide– Only 1 set to Alberta – 1 bottle each of the following vintages: 1954, 1963, 1974, 1980 and 1991. – $5664.99
Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glenlivet 1954 – 56 Year – 135 bottles – Only 6 bottles to Alberta – 50.6% – First Fill Sherry Hogshead – Tasting Notes to Come in a Future Malt Messenger – $2193.99
Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glenlivet 1963 – 47 Year – 169 bottles – Only 6 bottles to Alberta – 40.6% – First Fill American Oak Hogshead – Tasting Notes to Come in a Future Malt Messenger – $1325.99
Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glenlivet 1974 – 36 Year – 189 bottles – Only 6 bottles to Alberta – 50.1% – First Fill Sherry Hogshead – Tasting Notes to Come in a Future Malt Messenger – $923.99
Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glenlivet 1980 – 30 Year – 61 bottles – Only 3 bottles to Alberta – 48.5% – Refill American Oak Hogshead – Tasting Notes to Come in a Future Malt Messenger – $496.99
Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glenlivet 1991 – 19 Year – 203 bottles – Only 6 bottles to Alberta – 54.4% – Refill Sherry Hogshead – Tasting Notes to Come in a Future Malt Messenger – $202.99
HIGHLAND PARK ST MAGNUS – $124.99 (Limit 2/Customer)
Highland Park has released a trilogy of whiskies over the last few years bottled at a higher strength than their traditional bottlings. The first was the Earl Magnus, a 15 year old bottled at 52.6%, named after the legendary leader of the island. This second bottling is also named after the same Earl Magnus, but called St. Magnus. The St. Magnus is a 12 year old cask strength bottled at 55% with a subtle sherry influence. Magnus was co-ruler of the Orkney’s until betrayed by his cousin the other Earl, Haakon. Magnus was sainted just 20 years after his death, and I’ll let you guess who the third bottling in the series is named after. We long ago sold out of our generous allocations of this whisky, and have since then been hounding the supplier for as many additional bottles as they can spare. Of the 84 bottles we’d previously received all but 3 of them were sold before we could put a single bottle on the floor. We are getting but 12 bottles in this week, of which 6 are already spoken for; the rest will be sold in very short order. The original limit of 2 bottles per customer stands. I’ve included my tasting note as well as that of John Hansel of Malt Advocate.
“Highland Park, “Saint Magnus,” 12 year old, 55%, £85 The second in a series of three high-strength, limited-edition Highland Park whiskeys, and a rather bold expression. Nicely sherried and noticeably smoky—more than a standard Highland Park. Quite spicy too—cinnamon, but also ginger and nutmeg. Throw in some toffee apple, Cointreau, and waxed fruit (towards the finish) for intrigue. Long, sherried, smoky finish. A very exciting Highland Park.” 92pts John Hansel, Malt Advocate Magazine
Highland Park St. Magnus – 55% – 12 Year – My Tasting Note: Nose: very appley, with green and candied apples, peaches, heather honey and musty earthen floors (like those in a dunnage warehouse); the nose is tight but within its constraints that are lots of bold aromas which you have to work for; later I get notes of treacle, wood smoke and dark chocolate; Palate: dark, fruity and earthy with rich sherry notes, thick but yielding peat and more heather honey; the palate is very viscous and oily with far more peat than you typically associate with Highland Park, and that is what really strikes me; Highland Park is famous for the soft chocolaty peat they harvest from Hobbister’s Hill(moor), and there’s much more of it here than in the standard 12 year; the white fruits and apples provide a sweet decadent edge to the whisky complimenting the heather honey and toning down the surging peat; there is youthful barley notes too, but they are late to the show; Finish: very sweet and softly drying with more chocolaty peat and apples; the finish is long and its mouth-coating oils linger long after the last sip retaining flavours of honey, chewy barley and soft peat smoke; Comments: this is no sherry-heavy Highland Park like the 18 year, but it has as much depth and character as the distillery’s flagship brand; this is an excellent whisky for a reasonable price that just happens to be beautifully packaged! – $124.99
ALBERTA PREMIUM 30YEAR – $54.99 (Limit 2/Customer)
Alberta Premium jumped onto the world screen a few years back when the whisky and its distillery was single out by Jim Murray of Whisky Bible fame as the number one whisky in Canada and one of the top whiskies in the world. The whisky has long been unique, being one of the few 100% Rye whiskies produced in Canada. Although “Rye” has long been a pseudonym for Canadian whisky, the fact of the matter is that most Canadian whisky has been made primarily from corn for a very long time, and there is nearly as much Rye whiskey made in the United States as Canada.
After the success of the regular Alberta Premium the distillery launched a special 25 year old expression in late 2007, which was named Canadian whisky of the year in the 2008 Whisky Bible. Curiously the whisky was released with little fanfare and with a shelf tag of less than $30 (the regular $5 year old version being around $23) and was little more than a curiosity. Initially few people took it seriously partly because it was Canadian and party because it was priced too low. It wasn’t until long after the whisky was sold out that its reputation started to grow and the broader public starting searching out bottles. It is for this reason that when rumours of a 30 year old Alberta Premium release started trickling out late in 2010 the buzz in the whisky community made sure it would be snapped up quickly.
The story of Alberta Premium 30 year goes back to 1946 when Max Bell and Frank McMahon two notable Calgary community builders decided it was time for Calgary to have its own distillery. The dry climate around Calgary was perfect for growing Rye and a natural aquifer under the city’s Ogden neighbourhood provided the perfect water for producing a fine Rye whisky. Within a few years Alberta distillers was producing more unmalted rye spirit(must be two years in oak before it can be called whisky) than all other North American distilleries combined. 65 years later Alberta Distillers is still the largest producer of straight rye whisky in the world and the single largest consumer of Canadian rye grains. Today the vast majority of Alberta Distiller’s production is consumed within Canada. In 2007, the same year that the distillery bottled its first 25 year old expression, a parcel of casks filled in 1981 was re-married into a smaller number to preserve the whisky’s strength. These casks were bottled in 2011 yielding just 8400 bottles.
8400 bottles may sound like a lot, but in fact it is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. All 72 bottles of this whisky that Kensington Wine Market has previously acquired sold out before they hit the floor. Over the last few months I have been hounding Beam Global for every unclaimed case that other stores didn’t purchase, and all of these cases too have sold. Last week they informed me we had another 30 bottles coming our way. These bottles came in yesterday, Wednesday July 27th and they won’t last long. The original restrictions still hold, it is limited to 2 bottles per customer while supplies last.
Alberta Premium 30 Year – 40% – American Oak Matured – 100% Unmalted Rye – My Tasting Note: Nose: thick and syrupy on the nose with dark fruits and that distinct earthy/oily character possessed by most true Rye whiskies; thick with Panda brand black liquorice, liquorice all sorts, fruit leather and Teriyaki BBQ beef jerky; Palate: soft, sweet and layered with oils that are crossed by tendrils of spice, dark fruits and more Teriyaki BBQ beef jerky; I find the palate salty with more black liquorice, dried spices and some candied fruits; there are also notes of Ruby port and thick pancake syrup notes; truly though it is the spices which reign supreme with all kinds but ginger by far the most dominant; Finish: drying and sweet with more spices, Ruby port, and some tangy oak notes more reminiscent of very old Tequila than whisky; Comments: there is much more elegance to this whisky than the regular bottling, though it retains its full throttle character, and at $55/bottle, you’d be a fool not to buy one, just to try it! – $54.99
If you have any whisky questions or comments concerning The Malt Messenger please contact me by e-mail, phone, or drop by the store. Feel free to forward me any whisky news you feel should be included in a future issue of The Malt Messenger; it might just get included.
All of the products mentioned in THE MALT MESSENGER can be purchased in store, over the phone or from our website at www.kensingtonwinemarket.com.. All prices quoted in the Malt Messenger are subject to change!
Thanks for reading the Malt Messenger!
1257 Kensington Rd. NW
Calgary, AB, Canada