When quality rather than quantity counts

Both Liz and I love a decent dram, but when one comes along that far outshines what you have had before, you remember it.  Where were you when JFK was shot?  Which was, by the way November 22, 1963, the same year as Celtic won the European Cup, the first British team to do so. Every player was a Scot and all lived within 8 miles of the ground – never happen again that. It’s one of those moments.  The same happened to us a few years ago at the Speyside Whisky fest, we were guests of Glen Livet, in itself that was a great weekend – chuaffuers, more drams than you can waggle a stick at, food and great company. A part of that great company was chatting with and meeting up with, sharing a dram with Charlie Maclean, Ian Logan and Alan Winchester – amongst others. It was upstairs in the library with Ian Logan (whom I’d known for many years, Liz the first time) that this liquid velvet came out. The Glenlivet 50 year old Winchester Collection 1964, £18,000 a bottle, with only 100 bottles of this edition being released. We had been chatting to Ian when he said “oh by the way take a dram of what you want there” pointing to the loaded up table, the XXV being my choice. Liz comes out with “we’ve had all that stuff, got anything decent?” She was joking of course but Ian played along, he disappeared and came back with two glasses, a big measure in each. After Liz had apologised and Ian laughed, we sank into the dram; Honey, Fruit & Cherry, Pineapple, ,Oranges and Vanilla Fudge with so much more I couldnee figure out. It was like drinking velvet, so smooth, round, delicious, I could go on, you get my drift. This 1964 was filled into an ex-bourbon American oak barrel half a century ago by the Master Distiller at that time, Captain Bill Smith-Grant, the last distilling descendant of Glenlivet founder, George Smith. The series has been named in honour of the current Master Distiller, Alan Winchester who is such a nice guy by the way – we later did his masterclass, unlike any I had been to before, he just sat there telling stories, fab!.  Back to the dram. Bottled June 17th (two days before my birthday) 2014 – not that I was born 2014, but you know what I mean.

The Glenlivet launched the second whisky as part of its’ 50 year old single malt series The Glenlivet Winchester Collection, The Glenlivet Winchester Collection Vintage 1966 aged in ex-Sherry casks bottled on 25 May 2016 at cask strength 48.9% abv. Only 100 bottles made available, priced at £19,000 per bottle. The whisky was first put in cask by Glenlivet master distiller Robert Arthur, released under Alan Winchester, after whom the series is named. Brodie Nairn, of studio Glasstorm, was commissioned to design the hand-blown glass bottle, while silversmith Richard Fox was appointed to create the gold stopper, finished with a quartz Cairngorm stone. The bottle is presented in a cherry wood cabinet designed by John Galvin. None of this bothers me at all, you cannee drink wood and silver, whisky is there for drinking. Winchester’s ‘master distiller’ bottle of Vintage 1966 was auctioned at Christie’s, along with the chance to lay down the 2016 vintage, which will be released in 50 years’ time.  Alan said: ‘I’m proud to be auctioning my own personal bottle and a bottle of future Vintage 2016 to be enjoyed in 50 years’ time. This will mark yet another moment of history in the making and I’m so pleased that the proceeds of the auction will go towards investing in the future success of talented and innovative British craftspeople.’ All profits from the auction will be donated to the British Crafts Council, which was founded in 1971 and works to support ‘contemporary craft’ in the UK through exhibitions and publications. “This release marks a milestone for The Glenlivet,” said Winchester. “Casks of this age and quality are such a rare thing these days that I’m immensely proud to introduce the first of these rare vintages of preserved stocks from the distillery’s rich past. They’re a testament to our legacy of excellence and to those who have nurtured this whisky over the years, including Captain Bill Smith-Grant, who played such a pivotal role introducing our single malt to the world.”