The Last Drop Distillers was founded nine years ago by drinks industry veterans James Espey and Tom Jago with the express mission of sniffing out and hand-bottling rare spirits from cellars and warehouses across the world. Today, they run the company with their daughters, Beanie Espey and Rebecca Jago, and were joined in 2015 by consultant master blender Andrew Rankin, and their latest release is the triple-matured 1971 Vintage Blended Scotch Whisky (£3,000, limited edition of 1,352 bottles).
Awarded 2017 Scotch Blend of the Year and 2017 Blend of the Year (26-50 years), this 10th member of the prestigious Last Drop collection was originally distilled in 1971, with the single malts and grains first blended in 1983 as a premium 12-year-old for the US, while the balance was refilled into 11 former oloroso sherry butts. The spirit was then aged for a further nine years before a small volume was bottled as a 21-year-old blend, and what remained was refilled into nine bourbon casks that were sent to a traditional dunnage maturation warehouse, where they lay for a further 24 years. Towards the end of the third maturation, the casks were acquired by The Last Drop Distillers and bottled in June 2017.
The resulting 46.7 per cent cask-strength whisky is extraordinarily complex, exuding an ethereal fragrance that wafts from the glass with a polished, gently smoky top note, beyond which hints of armagnac-like violets and sweet prunes compete for attention with a comfortingly warm touch of peatiness. In the mouth, a smooth, tongue-enveloping texturality is balanced by a long, savoury aftertaste that lingers like the embers of a glowing fire.
Part of Last Drop’s Finest Aged range, it is bottled and sealed by hand using a driven cork dipped in boiling wax. Each bottle is presented in a forest-green leather case with its own 50ml miniature, a signed certificate of authenticity, a leather-bound tasting booklet and a custom-made stopper.