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Issue 91 - The travelling drams

Whisky Magazine Issue 91
October 2010


This article is 7 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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The travelling drams

Gavin D Smith, Ian Buxton and Charles MacLean compare the old with the new

Many of us have been fortunate enough to sample truly old whiskies, distilled during the 1970s and bottled recently. But what about whiskies bottled during the 1970s and not opened until now?

How do they stack up against their modern-day counterparts?

In order to find out, we chose five Scotch whisky brands, comprising four single malts and one blend, sourced a 1970s bottling of each, and asked the companies responsible for those brands to provide what they considered to be a currently available equivalent.

Each pairing was then sampled ‘blind' by whisky writers Charles MacLean (CM), Gavin D Smith (GDS) and Ian Buxton (IB).

Representatives of the brand owners were then invited to pass comment on the panel's findings.

Glenfiddich was a ‘must have' for the line up, because during the 1970s it was one of the few single malts widely available, thanks to the pioneering efforts of owners William Grant & Sons, while Aberlour was chosen to represent Speyside, Dalmore the Highlands, Jura the islands and Cutty Sark blended Scotches.

Inevitably, the panel was not comparing like with absolute like, as Glenfiddich's ‘entry level' malt is now marketed as a 12 Years Old , but was an eight Years Old in the mid-1970s. The principal Aberlour expression of the 1970s was an eight Years Old, while the current bottling selected by Chivas Brothers was its cask strength A'bunadh, which carries no age statement.

Consistent wood management policies were not generally in place during the 1...

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