Yes. For real. Killyloch. One of the most scarce single malt whiskies in the world. This 36 year old official bottling was a vatting of the last half dozen proprietary casks of Killyloch in the world. If you’re unfamiliar with the name (and yes, most of us are), Killyloch was produced at the Moffat complex in Airdrie. It was one of three single malts and a grain that were produced on site. The malts were Glen Flagler, Killyloch and Islebrae. The grain was Garnheath. All four are long gone now, of course, but Killyloch became the earliest casualty of the complex, when its stills – having only been christened in 1965 – were decommissioned just a few years later and absorbed by Glen Flagler. (Sounds a little like the Malt Mill / Lagavulin saga, aye?) In all, I’d guess there were maybe 6 or 8 years of production.
It’s a shame the abv on this 36 year old is a meager 40%, but the bottle actually says this is natural cask strength – and to be fair, it is quite decently oily – so let’s just assume honesty and transparency are to be taken at face value. And the whisky? Man…what can I say? This is the true definition of liquid history. It’s a relic, for sure. Tasting it nowadays is anachronistic to the point I kinda feel like I’ve stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone. Fantastic stuff, and spectacularly special to be able to try. Now, if only there were a drop of Islebrae to be found…
Sincere thanks to my mate Brett Tanaka for the opportunity to taste this. The range of bottles he’s been opening for what we’ll call ‘The Brett Sessions’ are simply beyond comprehension. And I am beyond humbled to be able to partake. I’ll be reviewing dozens of them in the coming weeks/months.
Nose: Orange, peach and tangerine. Very fruity. Bourbon notes are strong here behind the rich, tropical notes. Cherry. Old dead wax. Polished church pews and other antique-y notes. A slight peatiness. White dough. White chocolate. A deep vein of spice running through the whole. Citrus oils.
Palate: Very soft arrival. Spicy, to the point of being almost rye-like. And yet, still sorta bourbon-esque too. A little peat (but soft). Lemon cream pie. Lemon Drops. A bit of licorice. Some marzipan. And more of those soft orange peachy tones.
Finish: Longer than expected. Lovely and creamy. Reminds of a creamsicle.
Thoughts: Stunned silence.
91/100 (could likely add an extra point or so just for the sheer enormity of what we’re tasting).
“This 36 year old official bottling was a vatting of the last half dozen proprietary casks of Killyloch in the world.”
To me that makes a lot more sense than the JW “Ghost & Rare” concept where you pay a premium plus for a Blue Label and have no idea how much Port Ellen Brora or Glenury Royal is in the vatting.
And even in the case of the G&Rs with Port Ellen and Brora one can doubt that much impact can be found on the Blue Label from even these malts after all this years.
Wonder if you could find a difference between the standard Blue Label and the G&R wiht Glenury Royal at all taken the soft character of Glenury malts.
On the other hand I do not want to know what Diageo would charge for such a vatting of nearly extinct malts nowadays.
Agreed. It feels sort of sacrificial (not to mention sacrilegious) to vat casks like this. Unless, of course, they’re being married to others from the same distillery. The JW Ghost series is novel enough – and the whiskies are good – but in no way are they comparable to Brora or Port Ellen. Have yet to try the Glenury, but I am looking forward to the opportunity.