Friday, May 22, 2009

Have just tried ... St. Magdalene 1982 'Berry's Own Selection'

St. Magdalene is a Lowland distillery has been closed since 1983. Despite closing almost 26 years ago, the distillery buildings are still standing and have been sympathetically renovated into apartments. The distillery originally opened in 1795 in the town of Linlithgow, which lies between Edinburgh and Stirling and occasionally whisky distilled at St. Magdalene is also released under the name of 'Linlithgow'. It was one of Scotland's oldest distilleries until its closure. St. Magdalene was regarded as having one of the most perfect locations in Scotland for both whisky production and transportation links, being situated very close to some of the main barley growing areas, the main Edinburgh to Stirling road and the Union canal.

St. Magdalene and Linlithgow whiskies are now extremely rare and are running out, so are highly sought after by drinkers and collectors alike. The majority of the remaining dwindling stock is owned by drinks giant Diageo, who occasionally release special bottlings. The rest of the stock is held by independent bottling companies, who carefully select when to release it. This one is released by Berry Brothers & Rudd, the famous London wine and spirits merchant, and forms part of their 'Berry's Own Selection' whisky range. It is 25 years of age, having been distilled in 1982 and bottled in 2007.

The colour is light and lemon yellow with a delicious nose that entices you to want to try it. There is a lovely sweetness that reminded me of a combination of vanilla and caramel (think of that combination as an ice cream and you will be close). Under this sweetness are lots of fresh aromas - some fresh fruit (imagine shiny green apples and cantaloupe melon) and freshly mown grass. On the palate, that sugary sweetness hits first and is then joined by the vanilla, fruit and grassy notes from the nose. The vanilla is more oaky (think of a waxy furniture polish) and there is also a refreshing zingy citrus note (imagine fresh lemon juice). Interestingly, there is just the faintest hint of peat smoke in the background, which is an ususual characteristic to find in a Lowland whisky. The finish is quite dry and grassy (more dried grass or hay this time), with the hint of peat and the vanilla oak coming through. It is long for something that is so light.

This is a superb whisky, that is light and refreshing yet highly complex. It just has to be tried to be believed. This Berry Brothers bottling is available in selected whisky retailers only for around £80 a bottle, although Royal Mile Whiskies currently have it for a MEGA BARGAIN price of £59.95! This would be a great opportunity to try St. Magdalene whisky before it finally runs out.


Anonymous said...

This sounds wonderful. I just tried and really enjoyed a 17 year Rosebank, but this sounds potentially richer and more complex. Do you have any Rosebank expressions on-hand to compare to the St. Magdalene?


Anonymous said...

my grandfather Alexander Clark worked in the St Magdalene Distillery from 1874 aged 12 and I have the DCL Gazette Vol 5 no. 1 January 1927 showing his retirement as 30 Sept 1926 at the age of 64. He became Secretry and Manager in 1912 rising to distillery manager at Linlithgow.He was also secretary of the Glenlossie-Glenlivet Distrillery Co Ltd when the controlling interest was acquired by the S.M.D. in 1920. On a visit to Edinburgh 2010 I bought a bottle of one of 378 bottles from butt DL ref 4282, Douglas Laing & Co Ltd bottled this in May 2008 - haven't tried it yet how long will it keep? I never knew my grandfather as he died 1944, the year before I was born.