As it turns out, last month we already reviewed a teaser of bigger things to come. Earlier this week The Whisky Exchange dumped a bunch of samples at Words of Whisky HQ, including a 50th Anniversary Collection to celebrate five decades since the family of co-founders Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh began its journey in the drinks industry.
This five bottle series features a whisky from each decade of the family’s drinks history, starting in the 1970s all the way up to the 2010s. The label on each bottle features a poem about the happenings of the whisky industry, or the family’s role within it, during that decade. The whisky’s are available exclusively at The Whisky Exchange.
Blended Malt 1971 50 Years (49.1%, The Whisky Exchange, 2023)
Nose: Thick notes of beeswax, honeycomb and melted butter. Truly magnificent and really rich. Also touches of stewed apples, grape must and sweet popcorn, but also some quince jelly and lemon drizzle. Finally some toffee and Madeira cake too. Taste: Immediately waxy again, but accompanied by soft, gentle fruits. Whispers of mango, lemon peel, ripe apples and nectarines. Just a touch of maple syrup, a hint of tannins, and warm vanilla sauce. Finish: Medium length with lingering fruits, honey and beeswax.
Such a delight. Where in the same hallowed territory as some of those excellent undisclosed Speysiders from 1973. Remember those?
Caol Ila 1982 40 Years (49.5%, The Whisky Exchange, 286 bts.)
Nose: No surprise here, but this is about as elegant of a peater as you’ll find. It has a somewhat honeyed, fruity side with hints of sultanas, candied lemons and grapefruit. Also a whiff of linoleum, wet stones, earthy clay, and just a drop of anti-septic. The smoke is very delicate, the peat very much in the background. Taste: Just a perfect mix between gentle fruits, soft bonfire smoke, herbal touches, coastal influence and something slightly hospital-esque (but not overtly medicinal). I could go into more detail, but I don’t think I will. This deserves to just be enjoyed. Finish: Long, minty, earthy, chocolate-y, and lemon-y. And, you know, smoky. But as gentle as can be.
Such elegance! What class! So much grace! *Insert any hyperbole you can think of*
Clynelish 1995 26 Years (51.5%, The Whisky Echange, 713 bts.)
Nose: A tad shy. Soft notes of apple sauce, tinned pineapples and candied lemon fruits, but with the subtlest of floral notes. Also a gentle mineral hit, some cinnamon (which I suppose goes nice with the apple sauce), white grapes, and candle wax, but I’ve come across waxier examples of Clynelish. Taste: There’s the wax I was looking for. Glad it’s here, it wouldn’t have been Clynelish without. Also whiff of eucalyptus, similar fruits as on the nose, a hint of toffee and some icing sugar. Finish: Medium to long. A pinch of cracked black peppercorns, pineapple and plaster. Crushed mint leaves to finish things off.
After a cautious start, this Clynelish delivered in the end. I always have high expectations for Clynelish, especially of this age. This might not be transcendent, but is certainly recognisable, high-end Clynelish.
Ardbeg 2000 22 Years (53.4%, The Whisky Exchange, 243 bts.)
Nose: Warming, coastal peat and orange zest in great balance. Touches of lime, jammy peaches and smoked raspberries in the backgrounds, while seashells, seaweed and bonfires remind of its Islay heritage. A good deal of burlap too, as well fudge and asphalt. Taste: Sweet notes of Werther’s Original with seaweed and gentle medicinal notes. Whispers of campfire smoke, salted caramel, and freshly cut grass too. A fruity element is added by oranges and apricots. Finish: Long with mineral touches, mint and salty ashes.
A combination of mature Islay peat and subtle fruits. It’s well-integrated, elegant and mellow, yet still has some of that boldness.
Linkwood 2011 10 Years (52.2%, The Whisky Exchange, 870 bts.)
Nose: Hints of vanilla ice cream, sponge cake, and lemon drizzle cookies, but also a touch of raspberry candy cane, sweet pastries and ripe apple parts. Finally some green grapes and Greek yoghurt. Taste: Sweet and fruity too, with notes of apfelstrudel, vanilla pods and toffee. But it’s balanced by warming oak spices, such as cloves and nutmeg, accompanied by a pinch of white pepper. Finish: Medium length. Lingering spices, gentle orchard fruits and sweet barley husks.
It reminded me of another young Linkwood I tried recently, which I really liked. This one for The Whisky Exchange isn’t far off.
Really, I’m mostly just gobsmacked by that Caol Ila. After finishing my notes for the 50-year-old Blended Malt I didn’t expect any of the other 50th anniversary whiskies to surpass it. But I’m glad I was wrong.
Massive congratulations to Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh for this milestone. And thanks for letting me share in the spoils – it’s very much appreciated.