You make 50 look good! The Glenlivet Winchester Collection – Vintage 1964 05/11/2014 in Tasting

In was in 1964, fifty years ago, that Beatles released their albums “Meet the Beatles”, “Introducing the Beatles”, “I Feel Fine” and “A Hard Day’s Night”.

The same year the song “I want to hold your hand” was declared the 1st #1 hit and stayed there for 7 weeks. That’s not all, the song’s album, “Meet the Beatles” went # 1 and stayed # 1 for 11 long weeks. Well, further it even goes on to be declared as the Gold album for the year ! I love Beatles and couldn’t help embracing few moments of nostalgia which 1964 evoked.

While the Beatles were busy infusing much of the world with their music, a certain man, Captain Bill Smith-Grant was laying down a batch of new make spirit into American Oak barrels, yes 50 years back. He was, the last distilling descendant of The Glenlivet founder, George Smith.

The Glenlivet recently launched, the first in its series of 50 year old single malt Scotch whiskies, The Winchester Collection, with this inaugural release, the Vintage 1964. Limited release of 100 bottles, exquisite packaging, hand-blown glass and inclusion of stones and rose gold.

Tasting this beauty was like an honour, for two reasons, one because it’s 50 Years Old, which means that the world had to wait that long for it to arrive and secondly its not often that you hear a news of this nature from the house of The Glenlivet.
Alex Robertson, Global Brand Ambassador, was the man who made this liquid sunshine come alive for us. He and I had been a part of a multitude of ‘The Glenlivet’ core tastings and that morning he took out a not so familiar looking bottle right at the end of the session as a special treat.


The malt takes its name from its current Master Distiller, Alan Winchester. The Vintage 1964 was filled into an ex-bourbon American oak barrel half a century ago by the Master Distiller at that time.


While it stays true to its Glenlivet roots, however most of the base aromas get richer and accentuated. Rich fruits, baked pear, peach, not the kind of fruit you will notice in a younger whisky, honey and a nice harmony of dark chocolate, raisins with simple touches of oranges.


Nicely smooth & creamy, silky textured, surprisingly not oaky, full of juicy fruit flavours, candy & caramelised flavour with dark cherry.


Citrusy, cinnamon spice, luxurious finish, crisp and clean.

For me at an overall level the marriage of flavours was a winner, personified signature Glenlivet palate of honey, vanilla, toffee doused into the an experience of richer fruit, cherry, dark chocolate hints of citrus.

For a rare experience such as this, many times the value accorded to the bottle is but a mirage of sorts. This one was priced at $25,000 and had been placed at the Harrods for sale. Needless to say there is by no means any barometer to gauge its effective price being less or more, since given its age and rarity its already a collectors crave.

I also had the privilege of tasting the next Winchester Collection, expected to be available in 2016 and in contrast to this Vintage 1964, will be a darker, more full-bodied Vintage 1966 from a sherry cask. Very tannic on the palate, bitter charred, orange marmalade, somewhat baked spices along the way, i particularly enjoyed this one with a touch of water, since it burst open the orange and spice further.

It’s a beautiful difference simply when you stare & sniff the two, given the maturation, colour and hence yielding aromas. I would quite look forward to the finished product of 1966.

But the mystique was walking through the Glenlivet warehouse and spotting the barrel carrying the mark 1966, as i walked with Ian Logan, Brand Ambassador, Chivas Brothers, we both stood by and gave this one a nice hard gaze!