It’s not every day whisky from Sestante, the iconic independent bottler from Italy, comes across my desk. Actually, this is only the second ever review I’ve written of one of Ernesto Mainardi’s bottlings – this Mortlach being the first. But thanks to a certain very thoughtful someone, I now have the opportunity to review Sestante’s Glenlossie 1972 16 Years, presumably matured in a sherry cask (or casks).
Ernesto Mainardi and Sestante were part of a wave of influential Italian independent bottlers from the 1980s. Other well-known, legendary names include Samaroli, Intertrade and Moon Import. Mainardi had a close relationship with Gordon & MacPhail, first while working for their Italian importer, and later when he took over G&M’s distribution rights.
As legend has it, Mainardi drove by scooter from Parma in Italy to Inverness and Elgin in Scotland. That’s just so unbelievably Italian of him, I love it. It apparently took him four days, and once he arrived he befriended George Urquhart from Gordon & MacPhail. That’s the same George that was recently celebrated with bottlingslikethese.
Naturally, such a friendship came with benefits, and many of Sestante’s bottlings originated from Gordon & MacPhail stock. For example, on Whiskybase there’s an exact Gordon & McPhail match for the Glenlossie 1972 16 Years from Sestante. And there are more such examples.
Sestante was dissolved in 1999, but Mainardi founded Silver Seal just a year later. The brand is now owned Massimo Righi of Whisky Antique, who says of Mainardi that he “has one of the best noses in the world.”
Glenlossie 1972 16 Years (57.7%, Sestante)
Nose: Wow, much more aggressive than I expected. However, just a few minutes in the glass does wonders. All of a sudden it becomes waxy as only these older drams can. Soft floral touches combined with gentle, yet rich fruity notes. Think nectarines, peaches and mandarines. There’s a sliver of pink grapefruit too, as well as some subtle honey-esque notes combined with muddled mint leaves, a hint of nougat and even some mocha. Taste: Viscous and thick. Beeswax galore while arriving on cloves, spices biscuits and a pinch of pepper. Lots of tangerines, some sultanas, and papayas. A good dollop of honey too. There’s a hint of rubber lingering in the background, but it doesn’t distract at all. Finish: Medium length. And I don’t want to come across as lazy, but it really is more of the same. Which, you know, is a good thing.
Uniquely rich and surprisingly vibrant, even after many decades of bottle ageing. It has characteristics that are unmistakably from a different era of whisky making, yet it also has this younger, lively quality. An impressive whisky overall, this Glenlossie 1972 16 Years from Sestante.