That's not to the fact that he didn't enjoy it, I think he got access to more :-)
After nervously eye balling this bottle, expecting a disintegrated cork after decades of storage leaving a slightly moulded seal, we found it to be a screw cap.
Level well into the neck, we figured we would do it justice by compairing it H2H with a recent Chivas 12YO.
How did it hold up?
Are the blends of yesteryear different, and more importantly better than what we are presented with today?
Checking my score of the current 12YO I can see I've given it a measly 71 points.
Maybe a bit harsh, but a bit harsh is how I remember my last encounter with it.
Rough around the edges, alcoholic, dull and without any finish to be worth mentioning.
For our reference from a couple of miniatures I would probably stretch that score to 74 points.
Batch inconsistancy or pallate fatigue?
It was not bad, but still an arms lenght away of what I would reach out for.
So with that improved impression is there any comparison to the older stuff that most likely was destilled in the '60's and has spent 4 maybe 5 decades in a bottle?
Spoiler alert; with 83 points it is 9 points ahead in the H2H and 12 points more than my general score of the recent 12YO.
The major differnce is in the follow through.
The old one is escalating in points; fair nose -> good taste -> decent finish.
The new one is totally opposit; fair nose -> poor taste -> no finish.
At first the nose is incredably compairable.
I think the major contributor to Chivas which has always been Strathisla is "shining" through.
In stead of describing each and every note I found it better to focus on the differences. We've all had a basic Chivas 12, have we not?
This is bolder, more cask, far less alcoholic.
Yes, it's got the nose of a blend, but it's definitely more malty. It's richer, almost more mature even though the bottles states the same age.
It's more wood influence, and it's nice wood.
Yes there is a certain similarity between dunnage warehouse and an old musty basement, but I doubt this got it's nose from 40+ years in a cabinet.
Some basic similarities, but also major and pleasant differences in favour of the old bottle.
This is where it diverts.
The "new make" arrives with a light alcoholic tinge, weak on actual taste, or maybe expressed as lack of interest.
Yeah, it goes down without retching, but there's very little excitement.
The old one arrives with wood spice.
It's got liqorice and espresso which is not present in the new one.
Each on their own it may not be miles ahead, but head to head it feels like it is.
What's the major contributor to the difference? Better casks? More malt?
Probably a combination. We all know the detoriation of cask quality of later years, and in the -60's the malt stills were running at full steam.
And close to 5 decades in a well sealed bottle has not hurt this liquid one bit. A short contemplation of seeking out Doc Brown to research what it tasted like when it was freshly bottled boiled away as we all were to intoxicated to hit 88 mph safely.
And this is where it gets interesting.
Have a sip of todays Chivas, it's bland but not offending, partly because as you swallow it is more or less gone.
This is dancing around for quite a while, barley sugar and wood playing ping pong in your mouth.
It's solid, it's interesting, and I guess it's what once made Chivas stand out as a blend.