As a cask comes to maturity, Finn curates sampling sessions in interesting and relaxing environments, with friends, whisky experts and trusted partners to discover the personality of each cask and gauge the experience each dram evokes.
All the best distillers pride themselves on crafting whisky with a distinctive flavour, which is determined by the water source, grain and barley, the peat and malting, and their distilling processes. High quality original spirit is integral to every cask we bottle.
The cask itself interacts with the whisky over time. The type of wood plays a big role, as do treatments such as the whiskies are aged in a variety of types of casks. The whiskies are aged in former sherry or bourbon casks, augmenting the cask influence. External conditions such as air temperature, pressure and humidity also interact with the cask producing a knock-on effect that makes the spirit inside unique.
Finn uses these factors to balance each FT whisky experience. He may sample a cask and decide to leave it on the rack, allowing age to further develop its personality. He might decide to re-rack a whisky in a new cask to add a finishing touch. Or, he might simply deem it ready. When Finn decides the flavour is perfectly balanced, it’s time to bottle the whisky.
The Glenlivet 50 Year Old represents the start of a new chapter for the Thomsons; the first release under my own name. This special moment deserves a very special whisky to signify the next chapter of the Thomson story.
This is a whisky that has been matured in a sherry cask from a different era. While today it is a requirement that all sherry must be bottled in Spain, before the 1970s it was common practice for sherry to be shipped, still in cask, to Scotland for bottling. Scottish whisky and wine merchants, including Peter Thomson’s, bottled their own brands of sherry who would proceed to use the fresh sherry casks to mature their whisky stocks in. The outstanding quality of these fresh sherry casks is easy to see when tasting this whisky.
The sherry influence is at once apparent by looking at the colour. The liquid is almost black, with deep magenta lights – like Coca Cola.
There are deep Oloroso sherry aromas on the nose. Dried fruit – dates, figs, sultanas – all jump to mind. There are similarities with old Armagnac such is the intensity of the aromas here.
The first sip coats the mouth with a voluptuous texture unique of aged whiskies. An initial sweetness, salted caramel, is replaced by the same dried fruits that teased on the nose.
One cannot talk about the history of Scotch whisky without paying tribute to the role The Glenlivet has played. The 1823 Excise Act signalled a new dawn of legal distilling in Scotland and George Smith, the tenant farmer of Upper Drumin Farm in Glenlivet, was one of the first to embrace this opportunity. Like Donald and James Thomson in Grandtully, he saw an opportunity to move from illegal distilling to a new legitimacy of licensed whisky production. This decision was the catalyst for The Glenlivet now being one of the most popular single malt whiskies across the world.
Known for its light, fruity spirit character Glenlivet has always bucked the trend by being available as a single malt at a time when blended whisky was king. But even in the 1970’s 95% of the production from the distillery went towards fillings and blends. Indeed some of those fillings were for Peter Thomson’s own label bottlings. This particular cask, special as it is, was not. This cask was destined for a very special future.
The cylindrical box, is handcrafted in Scotland from pure oak, designed to evoke uncasking: the metaphorical cask turned inside out, with its typical charred interior facing outwards and the warm raw wood inside. Made of nine perfect circles for nine generations—like rings on a tree—they represent the continuing story.
Cocooned inside is the whisky within a bespoke 9 sided bottle representing each generation that has contributed towards our family’s 300 year whisky lineage.