Tasting The Last Drop Scotch Whisky
I've written a lot about ultra-pricey Scotch over the years but haven't had a chance to taste too much of it myself. Laura Baddish of The Baddish Group took pity on me, arranging a meeting with James Espey who let me sample The Last Drop. The slogan of The Last Drop is "if you only drink only one more glass of whisky..." and indeed, were you choosing a fitting accompaniment for your last meal, this would be the one to sip slowly as you contemplated your doom.
The Last Drop is a company founded by three old hands in the liquor business who have decided to bottle one by one, a collection of fabulous old casks from remote cellars scattered all over Scotland. Between them, Tom Jago, James Espey, and Peter Fleck have over 120 years in the Scotch industry. Meeting Espey was a trip through liquor history as he told me several interesting stories including one involving the invention of Bailey's Irish Cream. When they were first working on the mix of cream and whisky they didn't emulsify it at first. The result was a bottleneck of solid fat at the top of the bottle which made for a rather awkward moment when debuting the new concoction. The formula was fixed and the brand became very successful. Espey, Jago and Fleck were also responsible for developing Malibu rum, another brand with instant name recognition.
The trio aren't looking for that sort of popularity with this offering. The Last Drop is a passion project for these seasoned pros. Their first offering is a bottling of 1,347 bottles of whisky distilled in 1960. When it reached 12 years it was blended and put back into Sherry casks where it stayed for 36 years, evaporating slowly until less than a third of the volume remained. It has been bottled straight from the casks with no chilling, filtering or other additions.
The Last Drop isn't as dark as you might expect, instead it's got the color of burnished gold. It's an amazing blend with some of the traditional whisky notes you might expect such as dried fruits, tobacco and leather but it's also got a beguiling lightness. It just doesn't taste as glumly serious as the age and price might lead you to think. Just as even the driest history becomes fascinating when told by the right person, this whisky is a chance to drink the past and enjoy it. It's excellent straight but because it is at 52% abv you can add a bit of water and not risk diluting it too much. With water it opens up with an almost floral nose with tastes of molasses and stone fruit. The sensation of it reminded me of a time I was in an antique store and opened what must have been a gentleman's armoire dating back from the 1920s. That scent of lemon, wood and musk and a certain whiff of ineffable history has stayed with me for years. I suspect the memory of tasting The Last Drop will have a similar duration. And I'm not alone even the notoriously tough John Hansell of the Malt Advocate gave it a 95, which puts it above some whiskies which sell for twice as much as this one.
It comes in a simple black presentation box which includes a descriptive booklet, a cork stopper for resealing the bottle, the bottle and a 50ml mini bottle. Each bottle is sealed for a driven cork and protected with hot wax. It sells for $2,000 and just 350 bottles are being imported into the U.S., being sold at Binny's Beverage Depot in Chicago, Park Avenue Liquors in New York and Wally's in Los Angeles. It will be out next month.