You all know the classic statement of human solipsism masquerading as an epistemological question: If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound? Well, reviewing a whisky that was sold out before it was ever released provokes similar, albeit less self-centered questions: Can you overpay for something that never went on sale? (Perhaps only if you pay in Bitcoins?) Does a review of such a whisky helpfully add to the store of knowledge out there on the whisky internets, or is it more like NASCAR? Does journalism fail to be journalism when no one can verify what is reported? And what is this “journalism,” anyway? Not sure we’ve ever heard of it before.
At any rate, our friends at Wealth Solutions went to some extraordinary lengths to get us this sample, so we’re going to set these niggling questions to the side and review it, so the world knows exactly what it is that this bottler of crazily exclusive whiskies produced, even if the actual supply of the whisky was gone before any of us even knew it existed.
To begin, it’s hard not to admire the whisky in the glass, given its incredible legs and the surpassingly incredible nose. There are deep dark secrets held in the woods. And there are nymphs dancing. It’s like realizing there are little trees in the place of hair on a beast’s legs. After a few moments, the wood vanishes to reveal rivulets of runny caramel. The whole experience is herbaceous in a non-spicy way, but instead of emanating this herbaceosity, it pulls like a singularity, drawing us in with its lack of ostentation. More notes waft up: walnut fudge; whale ambergris spread on a piece of hardtack, a freshly oiled butcher’s block, and blowing tiny smoke rings with a tiny pipe. At 66 years old, in the United States one is advised to wait one year longer before taking Social Security payments. But here, it’s hard to imagine that waiting any longer would do anything more for this dram.
On the mouth, it’s gingerbread without the ginger. OK, maybe with a little ginger. Imagine an orange lollipop that’s been lovingly aged–by whoever it is that might do that. The citric notes are understated and wondrous, like a bag of clementine oranges held in the pouch of a kangaroo fleeing a fire. There’s also smoke and wood and sherry-ish cloying loveliness. It’s like vintage munitions fired at an airshow, and the crackle of surprise in the crowd as a biplane comes down. Overall, we decided that the mouth is what it must have been like to sit next to Cary Grant in first class as he reached for his cigarette case and explained coyly that of course there was no one who could hold a candle to Grace Kelly.
The finish explodes into a menthol delight, but after it hooked up with an onion ring. The tactile effect on the palette as the finish blossoms is just glorious. Menthol hangs around at the edges of the palate, and the long smooth finish stretches out amazingly in front of you, like the Grateful Dead in its heyday playing “Dark Star” for 64 minutes. There’s just so much crazy stuff here, it’s hard to capture it all. The phoenix is reborn from the ashes, scatters the ashes, chewing on a banana, as golden globes and toasted marshmallows fly off its wings. Then the finish settles down to nectar, honey with perfumes suspended in it. It’s an understated perfume from an understated flower, a small dark flower that captures insects and transforms them into something like a pearl. John proclaims it stupendous and nearly stupefying. We have a hard time saying anything in response.
The Gordon & MacPhail’s Glen Grant 1948 66 Year Old from Wealth Solutions is “You pretty, and you’re not real, I’m real.”–As the little boy says at around 1:05, I’m real. I have memories of this dram, but are they real? Was it real? It certainly was pretty…
–Our thanks to Piotr Suchodolski and Wealth Solutions for the sample!