I’m not a great fan of ‘collecting’ whiskies – of leaving them be, of putting them on a shelf, or hiding them in a dark space, unopened. Some people do this to one day make a profit out of those whiskies left unopened, some to preserve large whisky collections. While the former is, no doubt, a shrewd business/investment decision, I’ve never been that ‘up’ on my financial sensibility – I went into journalism, not for the money, but for the love of it. And, call me crazy but I much prefer the idea of cracking open a bottle and sharing it amongst friends and family, telling stories and making memories, than leaving it to gather dust.
However, every once in a while something comes along that seems too precious to touch – at least without some forethought. This is the situation I find myself in now.
The other day I arrived home after a few days away to find a rather intriguing looking box waiting for me. Inside was an extraordinarily exciting parcel – a wee teeny sample of the Glenlivet 70 year old. That’s right – 70 year old!
Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail this whisky was put into a cask in 1940, just months after one of the most devastating wars in our history was declared. Times were ever so different then – who, in 1940, would have thought I’d be able to communicate my thoughts and words with people around the world instantly, when all anyone cared about was how long war might persist and what its outcome might be.
To think back, it’s amazing this whisky has even survived here in the UK. After all, the amount of whisky being made and bottled in the 1940s dropped dramatically, due to rationing of barley used in its creation and the shipment to the US of large quantities of stock to make up for the money being spent on US-made war supplies.
The last few bottles of the whisky are now being released as a part of the Generations Collection from Gordon & MacPhail. Based around the company’s long history of family ownership (the grandchildren of original partner, John Urquhart, are instrumental in the business today) the Generations collection was started with the release in 2010 of a 70 year old Mortlach, distilled in 1938. In early 2011, the first bottles of this cask strength (45.9%) Glenlivet 70 year old were released to market. This second release of the remaining 100 70cl, silver stoppered decanters are now being sold at Vancouver International Airport’s new World Duty Free with an estimated price tag of $35,888 (Canadian).
As for my sample? I can’t currently bring myself to open it. I know I will one day soon and I will write about it on here when I do. But, equally, I want to be in the right frame of mind when I finally bring myself to taste a few drops of 70 years of history. It astounds me that this liquid – thought about, nurtured, cared for and conceptualised – so long ago, could find its way to me here in 2012.
But that – as I’ve mentioned before – is the beautiful thing about whisky. Its glorious history is one for us all to revel in – whether that’s over a dram that’s 12 years old or 40 years old. Always remember how amazing it is to have that whisky in your hand, and think about all it’s gone through to get to you. And then, most importantly, enjoy it!