Non-Cubans

Published on January 16th, 2019 | by Ken Gargett

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Nudies No 1 Lonsdales/Last Drop 1971 Blended Scotch Whisky (and possibly some Flor de Cana 25-Year-Old Rum)

Couple of interesting things touched down at the swamp recently. I had been talking to the people behind a rare spirits company and they were going to flick through a sample for review. And Rob left me with a mystery cigar. No clues at all. 

The whisky sample turned up and it was, wait for it, a 10ml thimble. I thought how on earth does one get to taste anything from such a minute sample? I found out later that a full 700ml bottle comes in at around £4,000, so suddenly 10mls is looking very generous. And it was such a stand out, no issue at all. 

The whisky was the ‘Last Drop 1971 Blended Scotch Whisky’. Last Drop was founded about ten years ago by some luminaries of the spirits industry who decided that they had more to offer before heading out to pasture, most notably Tom Jago, who passed away a few months ago. Tom had a hand in the invention of Bailey’s Irish Cream and the development of such classics as Johnnie Walker Blue Label. 

Over the last decade, they have released tiny quantities of extremely rare spirits. There have been only thirteen releases, and sometimes in such ridiculously small numbers that these are very definitely collectors’ items, but the spirits within are so exciting, how could anyone resist not trying them? 

The first was a 1960 Blended Scotch whisky – just 1,347 bottles. Among the other releases, there have been a 1950 Cognac (478 bottles), 50-Year-Old Scotch (388), a 1967 Glen Garioch Single Malt (118), 1961 Dumbarton Single Grain Whisky (a mere 32 bottles), 1972 Lochside Single Grain (106), a duo of Tawny Ports from 1870 and 1970 (770 sets), a 1982 Buffalo Trace Bourbon (44 bottles) and the 1947 Cognac (186). There are a couple of others, but the latest, the 1971, consists of 1,352 bottles. 

The history of this whisky is that it was originally blended in 1983 with the intention that it be released as a premium 12-Year-Old whisky for the USA market. After the requisite quantity was bottled, the remainder was placed in eleven old ex-Oloroso sherry butts for a further 9 years. A small quantity was removed for bottling as a 21-Year-old Blend and the rest went into 9 “ex-American Oak barrels” for a further 24 years. Presumably they mean ex-Bourbon as no matter what the barrel was used for, it remains American oak. 

The Last Drop people enjoy pointing out that in 1971, Disney World was about to open in Orlando and the astronauts from the Apollo 14 mission were busy whacking golf balls around the surface of the moon. 

I thought it worth looking at something decent as Rob was obviously very excited by the cigar he had left. A Lonsdale with the small pigtail, I had no clue as to its identity. After smoking, I would have had absolutely no hesitation is suggesting Cuban (and I made sure I lit it in my best ‘I’m a pompous tosser and will nag people who do not light their smokes in the manner I see fit’ mode – no names, Rob). 

The cigar was a cracker. Really creamy, some lovely caramel. Toast, nuts, coffee notes. Quite rich but nicely balanced. A cigar I would very happily smoke any day. Its one fault was that I wanted it to go longer. Whether I was influenced by the whisky or not, who knows, but I gave it a 95. It turned out to be one of the prototypes from Rob’s new Nudie range. I gather that this one was not the exact final blend for the Lonsdale but very close (personally, I’d have stopped here – hate to see them “fix” something that was not broke). 

The 1971 Last Drop? Wow!! Stunning stuff. Raisins, sultanas, glacéd fruits, it was bright and fresh still, yet incredibly complex. Incredible length, something like an old Rutherglen fortified. So long. Some florals, but such lovely fruit. Stonefruit, figs, orange rind. Decadent in the extreme. This is ‘drink on bended knee’ stuff. 

And of course, a lovely match, though the whisky may have been slightly overwhelming for the smoke. Given that I only had the 10mls, I will confess to a glass of the Flor de Cana 25-Year-Old Rum, another super-special drink, and the sweeter, more honeyed and richer notes, the caramel and butterscotch of the rum, worked even better. 

It was pretty special all round. 

KBG


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