Gordon & MacPhail continues to baffle with their vast stock, this time releasing a Glenlivet 1949 74 Years as part of their prestigious Private Collection range. It’s the oldest Glenlivet ever bottled, and in a few minutes will become the oldest whisky I’ve ever tasted. That title was previously held by this Glen Grant, also from Gordon & MacPhail (unsurprisingly).
The Glenlivet 1949 74 Years from Gordon & MacPhail was laid down in a refill sherry butt on New Years’ Day 1949 and bottled on 6th March 2023. Well over seven decades later the outturn is 192 bottles at a cask strength of 49.3%. The suggested retail price is £35,000.
Making things even slightly more interesting: this single malt is the company’s last ever 1949 cask from Glenlivet Distillery. Now, who knows how much other whisky they’ve got lying around from that time period. If not from Glenlivet, then from other distillery’s. And if not from 1949, then from other vintages. I’m sure Gordon & MacPhail have nothing to worry about yet. It’s just a matter of time before they’ll announce the first-ever 100-year-old whisky.
Whisky writer Dave Broom was among the very first to taste the Glenlivet 1949 74 Years from Gordon & MacPhail. He said:
“To find a whisky of this age is absolutely extraordinary. What comes across immediately is the fruit – there’s richness and there’s depth. You have this wonderful interplay of distillery character, of oak and oxygen. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
“When you taste it, you taste time. You can taste all the vintages and everything that’s happened. The concentration of fruits, the layers and the complexity are off the scale. You’d think it’s an old whisky but it’s not just an old whisky. It’s an extraordinary whisky.”
I’m sure that’s true, but I’m in the lucky position that I don’t have to take his word for it. Here are my thoughts Glenlivet 1949 74 Years from Gordon & MacPhail.
Glenlivet 1949 74 Years (49.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, C#11)
Nose: A clear hit of beeswax and furniture polish, along with some old leather-bound books, teak oil and mentholated notes. Cigar boxes too. Orange peels and apricots make an appearance, as does a hint of prosciutto di parma, porcini, some cinnamon and jammy fruits. Finally a whiff of linseed oil and just the tiniest sliver of smoke. Taste: Arriving on wax, pollen and honey along with gentle citrus fruits of the candied variety. There’s a touch of cracked black pepper, some syrupy cherries and a sliver of crushed mint leaves, but also tobacco, gooseberries, liquorice root and charred oak as well as some cedar wood. All the while some more tropical fruits are dropping in and out of the frame. And again, just the tiniest sliver of smoke. Finish: Very long. Only some soft tannins, which is remarkable given its age. More leather and tobacco, along with menthol and honey. Really just an encore of everything that makes this whisky great.
I find scoring a whisky as venerable and historic as the Glenlivet 1949 74 Years by Gordon & MacPhail is almost offensive. But I've committed myself to rating whiskies, a decision I still squarely stand behind, so I will. At its finest, whisky should be an experience. This is an EXPERIENCE.