I don’t think I’ve ever touched anything older than 70 years old, never mind put my lips to it. Judging by the golden elixir in an elegant spout-nosed carafe standing before me, I had missed out. And this observation after only looking at the Mortlach 70, the oldest single malt whisky known to man, woman and child.
Why was it in a hotel lobby in Cape Town? Because Ray Edwards, liquor head honcho from the Spar Group and whisky aficionado had brought two of these 200ml containers so South Africa as part of the Whisky Live! experience currently being held in the city. The one carafe is to be auctioned at Whisky Live! (Reserve price R20,000, please). And the other was, in a brotherly moment of magnanimous generosity ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ so typically Scottish ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ shared among Ray’s whisky brethren.
The whisky originates from one barrel laid down by Gordon & MacPhail. The stuff was distilled in, Mortlach Distiller in Dufftown on 15 October 1938. A couple of 700ml containers are available at around 10,000 UK sterling, although the 200ml sippers are much more consumer friendly.
Edwards’s auctioning of this whisky gem is to raise money for the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR), a Cape Town-based organisation and world authority on the scourge of foetal alcohol syndrome.
But as Edwards knows, you can’t present something for auction hoping to raise over R20,000 without having a wee dram of the thing.
Being 70 years old, we all stood once the glasses were poured as the custom calls for one to stand when drinking something older than yourself.
The first thing that struck me was aroma. As six small drams were poured, we were enveloped in a cloud of heady aroma. Honeysuckle, tobacco, cloves, cinnamon and wood-shavings. Had we been wearing kilts in the traditional way ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ sans jockstraps ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ the other people in the hotel lobby would have been in for a treat, and then some.
Something that smells this intoxicating is almost too good to drink. Almost?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+.
So I took a drop. One drop. And that’s all that was required.
One drop of this whisky exploded in the mouth, driving sensory gushes up the throat, around the brain and through the eyeballs. It was a psychedelic rush of flavours, spirit and oral texture. Rich and seductive oozing life, spirit and fire. Taking a bigger sip, I heard battle cries from Scottish mobs driving back the English on the moors, spittle on their lips and blood in their beards. I saw a salmon leap up a Highland waterfall, sun casting a silver sheen on its side. I could feel the terror in the eyes of a grouse as the shot from a Purdey thumped into its delicate, brightly feathered rump.
Let me quote from the classic Scottish inspired film Trainspotting: “Fook me, this is alright then.”
Man. The last time I was so turned on by anything Scottish was during an interview with Sharleen Spiteri, lead singer of Scots rockgroup Texas.
Look, you are not going to buy this stuff and glug it poured three-fingers over ice. It is a masterpiece worthy of museum-like respect and an ode to the great culture of whisky.
For a true Scots lover, Mortlach 70 would be priceless. The charity angle is a bonus.
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