Fifty is an eye-catching number when you put it on a whiskey label. With a major, industry-shaking shortage crimping the supply lines of Scottish whisky, the release of particularly old product is going to get attention.
But age is just a number. It’s what a whisky does with its time that matters. So what makes a great whisky at 50 years of age? Try one that’s reinvented itself halfway through life.
Reinvention for an old whisky is rare, because nobody wants to take risks with something of great value. And The Last Drop 50 is already rare indeed: less than a thousand bottles produced of a whisky whose age-based peers number in handfuls.
The Last Drop 50 is a blended whisky, meaning it contains both single-malt and single-grain whiskies from a variety of distilleries, the way Johnnie Walker or Chivas do. The number 50 only indicates the youngest whisky in the bottle, meaning some of the more than four dozen individual whiskies that were blended to make this product are much older.
But this whisky has lived more than one life. Originally the blend was released in 1995 as a 30-year-old, bourbon-married whisky for the Asian market (specifically Taiwan).
But when the blender had some whisky left over from the production, he decided to try an experiment. The remaining whisky was placed into seven ex-sherry casks, meant to be finished for a year or so before a new bottling was produced. But for some reason, the blenders essentially forgot it existed — for 20 years.
Now those sherry casks yielded a total of 898 bottles, a third of which will head to U.S. retailers this month. They will retail for around $4,500.
If you’re wondering how a relatively new company (only eight years old) came into possession of 50-year-old whisky, you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that The Last Drop is not a distillery — nor do they want to be. Instead, The Last Drop is an over-arching brand name given to an elite group of spirits, hand-selected by some of the best in the business, for supremely limited bottlings. They’re acquired from much larger companies, who often stumble across small parcels of exquisite whisky they don’t know what to do with.