Blog: Andy MortonHistoric Glenfiddich tastes so sweet

Andy Morton | 14 November 2014

The Straight Malt - a historic dram

The Straight Malt - a historic dram

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Last night, I was lucky enough to get a taste of history. 

At an event announcing a partnership between Glenfiddich and smoked salmon manufacturers H Forman & Son, William Grant & Sons held a whisky tasting that delved back into the beginnings of the global single malt category. On the table was the bottle pictured above (click through to see the full image), the Glenfiddich Straight Malt, which, according to Glenfiddich brand ambassador Mark Thomson, was the first whisky to be internationally marketed.

This was back in 1963, and the Straight Malt helped open first the US market up to single malts and later to countries such as France. It was the start of Scotch's rise to dominance as the premium spirit of choice among the world's elite.

The Straight Malt above was bottled in the 1960s and still tastes great 50-odd years later. (William Grant are now trying to recapture its spirit in a reproduction.) Drinking it was a truly special experience, made more so by the realisation that these slices of history are fast disappearing. A global search by William Grant tracked down just three bottles of Straight Malt, one of which is now standing empty. Sorry about that.

Meanwhile, at Diageo's release of its special editions in London last week, guests took a chunk out of the stocks of the Rosebank and Port Ellen distillery, stocks that will never be replaced because the sites closed down last century.

As aged stocks become rarer because of increasing global demand, we are reaching an age of extinction for some historic names. Naturally, new ones will take their places and in 20 years time there will still be 38-year-olds and 50-year-olds for Scotch lovers to savour.

But very few will reach back to before Scotch was the phenomenon it is now - something which I can confirm makes them taste all the sweeter.

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