Jim Murray is an idiot (ref: his 70 points for this whisky), but unlike him, the rest of us can learn from our mistakes. I originally had a glass of this excellent whisky back when I was only beginning my whisky hobby, and while I recognized it as a good one, I wrote down nothing about it and rated it 90, thinking it was good but not truly special.
Now, years later, I had a chance to try this famous Linlithgow again, and I'm floored: This is just the kind of naked, distillate-heavy, Rare Malts-ish profile I've only come to love through experience and a thorough investigation of all that Scotch whisky has to offer.
There's a lesson to be learned here: revisit your old scores, especially from the time you were only starting your hobby, and re-examine your premises. It does good for a man, or a woman, to admit that perhaps the nuances of the very best malts only open up to an experienced palate, and a snap judgment made early in your journey isn't worth much. Granted, from my then 90 points to 92 now isn't much of a change, but the years in between at least have made me capable of articulating why I think back then I wasn't seeing this one in the light it truly deserves.
A beautiful nose! It's a vaguely fruity, vaguely peaty affair with a fair amount of worn, old, sour oak. Naked and glorious, and if not exactly similar, then not that far away from Rare Malts Linkwood 1972s (later RM Linkwoods aren't from old Linkwood, and don't count). Some herbal salts come up every now and then, and faint white pepper. Water opens it up some, but doesn't change the overall profile much. It doesn't sound like much by descriptors, maybe, but realize that these kind of noses are extinct now, and to be cherished whenever found. Can we start a whisky extinction rebellion?
Old, soggy oak, slightly fatty body, some slight old style peatiness (think Littlemill or old Linkwood), and then that amazing fruitiness that's like the tastiest lemon sherbet. I'm getting some echoes of that 1967 25yo Chieftain's undisclosed Auchentoshan, although this has more gravitas and punch. Water doesn't IMO really change it, just makes it bigger, and bigger. It's very focused, not really veering anywhere from the main tastes, and displaying no flaws whatsoever.
Long on the sour old oak, with a wisp of drying peatiness in the tail. Lovely! Is Linlithgow/St. Magdalene the true queen of the Lowlands? I believe so.