|The Glenlivet Winchester Collection - Vintage 1964|
Welcome back to part 2 of my trip to Speyside with The Glenlivet!
So you're probably reeling with anticipation wondering what was this special whisky that I went all the way to Scotland to taste?
I had the privilege to be one of the first to taste The Glenlivet 1964 Vintage and the 1966 Vintage the first two releases of the The Winchester Collection, a series of 50 year old single malts named after master distiller Alan Winchester!
The first to be released is the Vintage 1964. This amazing single malt scotch was put down for maturation in 1964 by Captain Bill Smith, the last descendant from the founder of The Glenlivet, George Smith. Aged in 100% American Oak ex-bourbon barrels, the Vintage 1964 is a gorgeous, intensified version of the iconic flavors found in The Glenlivet.
Only 100 bottles of are available worldwide, and will be released in select markets. The first of which, Bottle No. 1, will be available at Harrod's in London October 1 for a price of $25,000 and is sure to be a coveted bottle by collectors.
The rippling glass bottle was designed by the Scottish glass artists Nichola Burns and Brodie Nairn of Glasstorm, and is topped with a Rose-Gold and whiskey-colored Cairngorm Stone stopper made by silversmith Richard Fox. The black walnut and white leather presentation cabinet, designed by John Galvin, comes with a hidden gilded key and upon opening the wood doors the bottle moves forward, begging to be tasted.
|Reserve Cask Room|
|Master Distiller Alan Winchester and Peter Prentice Lead a Tasting of the Vintage 1964|
And what does the Winchester Collection mean for The Glenlivet? "I hope that it will provide an extra dimension to the fine selection of whiskies that we already offer," explains Mr Winchester, "We are fortunate to have such a strong portfolio that reaches a wide range of customers, from the younger, more accessible whiskies, through to our exciting limited editions and Nàdurra range. With The Winchester Collection, we now have an exceptional rare and special 50 year old spirit that strengthens the diversity of our portfolio even further, whilst continuing to offer the flawless quality found within every bottle of The Glenlivet."
|The Next Release: The Vintage 1966|
|Alan Winchester Opening The 1966 Cask|
It has not been announced how many bottles will be part of The Winchester Collection or when they will be released, but it can be guaranteed that the set will showcase a diverse range of styles and flavors, highlighting the possibilities of The Glenlivet. One thing is certain, for those who are lucky enough to collect the complete set of The Winchester Collection, it will be an impressive and extremely valuable collection of 50 year old vintages!
|Vintage 1964 and Vintage 1966|
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We also did a tour of the distillery, getting a behind the scenes look at how The Glenlivet is made.
|The Stills at The Glenlivet|
The Speyside scotch starts out as Scottish barley, which is soaked in water for a few days allowing it to germinate. The grains are then heated and dried, a process known as malting that releases the usable part of the grain from the husk. The malt is then ground through a malt-mill until it has a flour-like texture, at which point it is called grist. The grist is then mixed with hot spring water that comes from Josie's Well, a converting the starches into sugars.
|Josie's Well - Primary Water Source for The Glenlivet|
The mash (wort) heads over to the wood fermentation tanks (washbacks) where yeast is added, and the sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The mash takes on much of its flavor from the wood fermentation tanks, and wood tanks continue to be used despite the many splinters suffered by the poor guys who clean the tanks. After two days the wort is converted to wash, a distiller's beer that is 8-9% alcohol.
|Wood Fermentation Tanks at The Glenlivet|
The wash then heads over to the stills for distillation. The stills used at The Glenlivet are George Smith's original design, and allow for maximum contact with the copper as the vapors pass through the goose neck of the still. All Glenlivet whiskies are distilled twice, each time almost tripling the proof of the alcohol. So the distiller's beer starts out at 9% alcohol, the low wine (the first distillation) is at 21% alcohol, and the final hearts are cut at 60-73% alcohol before sent to rest in either American Oak or European Oak barrels. The heads and the tails are recycled, added to the next batch of low wine and re-distilled.
|Master Distiller Alan Winchester at the Spirit Safe|
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After the distillery tour, we were headed back to the Meldrum House for a quick change before dinner. 30 minutes later a smartly-dressed group loaded up in cars, and we headed to our final destination of the evening, Fyvie Castle.
Fyvie Castle is a 13th Century castle with rooms and passageways lined with displays of armour, rich tapestries, and paintings of barons and baronesses. As we drove up the gravel path to the castle a bag piper greeted us, as did a server with a tray of glasses of Perrier Jouet. We ascended the stone circular staircase and met in one of the Castle's gorgeous drawing rooms for a toast to the exceptional whisky we had tasted earlier.
|Peter Prentice, Toasting to The Winchester Collection|
I very much appreciated the kilts that were worn by the gentlemen of the castle, and Mr. Peter Prentice's festive plaid pants that were fitting to the occasion. Upon seeing Sporrans and Sgian-Dubh knives, I knew we were in for a traditional Scottish feast!
After a tour of some of the Castle's most notable rooms, we were guided into the lush dining room that was lined portraits of family members who once inhabited Fyvie Castle. Even the ceiling was decorated with family crests and gilded initials.
|Reading Room of The Library|
Dinner was a gorgeous affair, a candle lit meal that started with a toast of The Glenlivet. We were then treated with a two-ways salmon dish with a hot and cold cured salmon served with pickled onions, and crème fraîche. This was followed by a presentation of the haggis, the Address To A Haggis by Robert Burns passionately read by Mr. Winchester. Following the haggis, was a gorgeous cut of venison served with fresh root vegetables.
|Master Distiller Alan Winchester Sharing Stories of The Glenlivet|
It was a treat to see an estate like this brought to life with such a gorgeous fête. I've toured many historic homes and castles and watched many episodes of Downton Abbey, but it was a magical experience to be sitting at the table myself, dining under the portraits of those who once entertained in the same room.
|15 Year Old Single Cask 2014|
We were then treated with a taste of The Glenlivet Single Cask Edition from the 2014 Spirit of Speyside aged 15 years. This gorgeous whisky was another of my favorites from the trip, with light flavors of pear candy, pineapple, mandarin orange, mint, with a distinct bright yet creamy notes of vanilla and baking spices. While this whisky had many of the same tasting notes as the Vintage 1964, it was lighter and much more ethereal.
After dinner we moved into the music room, a gorgeous chapel like room that had an enormous organ built into the wall. We were treated to coffee and a serenade by the keeper of Fyvie Castle, Robert Lovie.
We listened to the romantic ballade while sipping a Glenlivet 37 year old whisky that had never been bottled, and no plans to be bottled. Mr Winchester had pulled the whisky right out of the cask just for the evening, a rare treat that only few are able to enjoy. This sherry cask whisky had strong flavors of coffee, bitter toffee, tannins, and banana bread. When asked what the strength was of the cask, Mr. Winchester responded "No Idea", and with a giant grin, took another sip of his dram.
Want More? Check out Part 1 of my trip to visit The Glenlivet>>
Want More? Check out Part 1 of my trip to visit The Glenlivet>>