It is often said that it’s the company that makes drinking better. No matter what you are drinking, it won’t be as good if you’re drinking alone. Sometimes, it’s true. But, I do not completely agree with this. I believe that everything in life is a double-edged sword. Interacting with people while trying to drink seriously can be distracting. Who drinks seriously? Well, me. I am aware that am an aberrant. I am one of those who like to get lost in my thoughts just focusing on what in my glass. I am one of those who like to drink while seeking shelter from the usual worries of being part of a society? The very few, who just want to enjoy themselves on their own time.
I live in a market whose drinkers are still mostly playing catch up. Independent bottlers are unattractive to them. Macallan, Lagavulin and Japanese whisky are their golden tickets. Malternatives are usually deemed as hipster or options for being “cheap”. What is presented to them as shining and shimmering they will assume is splendid. As some of you can imagine, most conversations with locals can be dull as they haven’t tried much and don’t do much research.
As demand for whisky keeps increasing, it becomes increasingly difficult to obtain unicorn bottles. There is now more accessible information and thus more informed buyers to compete with. I like to believe that there was a time when more demand meant more opened bottles. But it seems like the greater demand now is just being taken advantage of whisky investors. A limited release gets sold out in days after release. Only for some bottles to pop up in auction sites for times 3 the amount.
What happens to the few enthusiasts who actually open their unicorn bottles? The more flippers appear, the more I feel like being a spirits geek has become a gift, a dream and a curse. To know what something rare tastes like can feel like the best thing, the happiest thing and yet also the loneliest thing. This is what I feel when I drink my Old Malt Cask St. Magdalene 28 year old. I have shared this in some whisky sessions, but I personally only know of 1 friend who has successfully acquired another St. Magdalene.
This is another bottle I bought while traveling in Japan. I believe I bought this in Tokyo back in 2014 for around ¥15,000. It is the first whisky I have owned to come from a dead distillery. Jason’s review pretty much sums up St. Magdalene’s current reputation these days. Since the distillery closed down in 1983, I suppose I am lucky to have one of the last casks to come from Linlithgow. Sad that the Lowland whisky industry has pretty much gone away. Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan aren’t enough to make the Lowlands interesting in conversations. I’ve tried a SMWS Bladnoch from 1990 and it’s so different from what it is today. The golden days of Lowlands whisky might be worth making a time machine for.
The scribbles you see on the right of the label are the autograph of Andrew Laing. He hosted a tasting in Manila during 2015 to promote Vom Fass, who Hunter Laing supplies to. I’m not sure if Douglas Laing did so prior to the Laing brothers parting ways. This release was distilled in 1982 September and bottled in 2011 April. An outturn of 249 bottles from charged from a refill butt (#7093), at 50% strength.
Old Malt Cask St. Magdalene 1982 – review
On the nose: hints of apple pie, a lingering scent of lemon grass, some pepperiness, hints of juniper, malty, followed by hints of vanilla and honey and coastal sea air.
In the mouth: A welcome taste of vanilla, honeysuckle, pepperiness and barley. Followed by hints of apple pie, cinnamon, licorice, chamomile and chrysanthemum tea.
A very well rounded and complex enough dram. It doesn’t rush out to greet you. But once it gets going and, on your senses, it gives a very pleasant feeling all around. The finish really lingers. It gives me a mental image of having a picnic in a grassy field in Spring, although this is the only St. Magdalene I’ve tried. If they all taste like this, then I want to try more of them.
I don’t regret milking this whisky for all of this time. It surprisingly remains unchanged despite how long it has been open. Buying this bottle has marked a lot of new beginnings for me. I suppose, it was an unintentional symbolic master plan of mine to finish this bottle before I turn older than 28. Just as I am beginning a new chapter in my life.