So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

St. Magdalene 19yo 1979 Rare Malts 63.8%

This bottle is a legendary one, so I am going in with high expectations; which probably isn’t fair objectively. But if a famous writer can intentionally hamstring Ardbeg because ‘it is just that good’, perhaps so can I?

A word on the livery: The Rare Malts range was a Diageo range in the 90s that showcased their distilleries in a most brutally honest no-holds-barred form. This is powerful stuff, often coming in several points above 60%. And because the distillates were from the late 60s to early 80s, they are almost antediluvian.

And about St.Magdalene. Lost and lamented and mourned on my other pages so I shalln’t harp, but for something different:

There is a pub in Linlithgow called The Black Bitch, which takes its name from local lore rather than bad humour. The story is as follows:

Twas off the bonnie banks of Linlithgow Loch, some 350 years ago, the king had sentenced a thief to starve to death ordering him chained to an oak tree on a floating islet. The captive’s faithful companion, a black greyhound, treaded through icy waters with food in her mouth attempting to save her master’s life. When the palace caught onto the canine’s caper she was shackled to a different tree on a nearby islet leaving both prisoner and pooch to perish. From that day forward the townspeople of Linlithgow were so touched by the dog’s loyalty that they started referring to themselves as “black bitches.” (http://www.stmagdalene.com/#!town/c1n92)

st-magdalene-19-year-old-1979-rare-malts-whisky (masterofmalt.com)


Nose  Nose : Beware, this is a powerful whisky. Needs a lot of time and it brushes off oxidation like a bad idea. Unreduced it is reminiscent of piles of cut grass in the sun, lawn mower diesel and some engine smoke. Very old style. Pungent vegetal resin oiliness, musty old books, damp bog wood, an old stained hurricane lamp. My granny had lots of those. A touch of medicine even. But above this, a blade of estery sharpness, unripe pears green apples unripe apricots, limes. With water: It expands laterally, though more of these unripe raw fruit and less pungence. Dried grass at midday. This is the unchallenged summit of yesteryear’s whisky.

Taste  Palate: Rocket fuel. Diesel and hydrocarbons and all plasticky, oily unctuous with a bit of glass. Needs water, more than a spoonful, and time to brood: Still sharp, medicinal with citrons and limes as an ingredient. Very petrol-fume like, hot engine. Musty wood, paraffin, huge mouth feel. Tough and unbending even, bromelain and tenderizing.

Finish Finish: Long and complex. Bewildering array of afternotes.

Score Divine


I do not give such a rating frivolously. It is magnificent and should only be approached on its own terms.

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This entry was posted on June 29, 2015 by in St. Magdalene and tagged .
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