The e-mail invitation was quite simple: Would I be interested in tasting Glenlivet’s new $25,000, 50-year-old Scotch? And would I mind coming to Glenlivet’s lair in the braes of northern Scotland to taste it?
It was an invitation I couldn’t refuse.
Understand, I have tossed down a few dozen barrel samples and bottle pours of rare wines and spirits in my day. Just last week, for example, I sipped a superb 26-year-old Glenfiddich, which would soon be on sale for a mere $499 a bottle, at William Grant’s offices in New York. Then there was that fabulous ramble through old-vintages at Krug’s cellars in Rheims. And the time I went back for seconds when offered another drop or two of Taylor Fladgate’s 1855 Scion Port ($3,200 per bottle) that pre-dated phylloxera.
But a $25,000 new-old Scotch demands special attention, and raises some questions. First, what does it taste like? Second, what makes a bottle of it worth about $1,500 a shot, and who would pay that price and for what reasons? And why would any sane person send me business-class tickets to London, thence to Aberdeen, the exhibition’s jumping-off point? I promised myself I’d find these answers!
So I grabbed my notebook and trusty camera and was soon snoozing on a BA overnighter to Heathrow with visions of pot stills dancing in my head.
Thistle When You Get There
If there are thistles along the footpaths, I must be in Scotland. We — a small covey of writers from America and the mother country and I — set up shop for the duration at Meldrum House, an old country manor a few miles northwest of Aberdeen.
Getting Linked In
The next morning, we shake off the jet lag by hitting golf balls. These guys are from the London contingent. Scotch? So far I have seen none of the old stuff, although there is a bottle of Glenlivet 18-year in my room, and various Scotches for the ages are coming out at meals.