40 years in the cask! Pretty incredible if you think about. Kind of makes me think of the genie from Aladdin. RMW have released a 40 year old blended malt for just under £200! Ok so let’s pick this apart.
What is cool about this? Well it’s probably the most affordable 40 year old whisky on the market. It’s aged in Sherry casks which is another rare attribute. It contains whisky from 3 well respected distilleries (Macallan, Tamdhu, Glenrothes). It’s at cask strength. And well it’s 40 frickin years old!
What’s not as impressive? It’s a blended malt.
Ok now I keep emphasizing the age here but I think it’s important to note that prior to the current age craze in whisky, most industry folk thought that whiskies shouldn’t really be aged more than the mid-twenties. Whiskies older than this were thought to have gone past their prime. If you have tried a lot of 30+ year old whiskies you might agree with this. It seems the exception to find a 30+ year old whisky that actually has some flavour to it. Most of them seem somewhat bland and over woody. Considering their price tags one would expect more. This has to do with managing wood influence. With first fill casks you typically want about 10 years of aging. It can go longer but at the risk of oversaturating the whisky. This is all whisky science though which can get a bit complicated due to variance in aging. Whiskies in refill casks are typically aged longer as the rate of flavour infusion decreases as more flavour is sucked out through each maturation. So how do you get a 30+ year old whisky? Well typically the casks will be sampled from time to time to assess their bottling potential. For a cask to make it to 30+ years it would have had to been assessed as not ready to bottle quite a few times. This usually means the maturation isn’t picking up flavours as much. Also at about 30 years you have to worry about the Angel’s share. If the whisky is getting to about 40% then you kind of have to bottle it regardless. If it is below 40% then you could theoretically mix it with other casks to bring the ABV to above 40% overall but you will be bottling it soon so that it doesn’t go past the point of no return. So all this factors into why there are so few 30+ whiskies and why many of them are not so great. Diminished cask activitiy and the pressure to bottle.
Enter the RMW 40 year old blended malt. It’s old but the ABV is still quite high considering it’s age. So it could go longer if they wanted. It’s in sherry casks which tend to impart more flavour. And well it’s just fun to try the really old or really rare stuff. At around 200 quid per bottle it’s not completely out of the price range for someone looking to splurge.
Bottler: Royal Mile Whiskies
Type: Blended Malt
Distilleries: Macallan, Tamdhu, Glenrothes
Age: 40 years old
Number of Bottles: 337
Price: £199.95 at RMW
Crisp fresh picked apples. Dry fresh worked wood. Christmas cake. A cake baking. Cherry Coca cola.
Wow lively and rich with bright fruits and custard. A dominant woody component. Spicy and fiery. The sweetness is smooth and flowing like condensed milk. Maraschino cherries, raisins, mulled wine.
Dry woodiness. Kind of bitter tart wood. The bitter tart lasts a long long time. Cola and a hint of smoke. Peppery too.
I was surprised by this one. I wasn’t expecting it to be so lively on the tongue. It has a nice balance between being lively and refined. It’s not a big sherry bomb like an Abunadh but it’s got rich sherry notes with a more nuanced feel. Out of the limited number of 40 year olds that I have tried it could be the best and if not then tied for second. AliceInWhiskyland was not as impressed but she tends to like big bold whiskies with lots of peat. I think if you want the excitement of drinking a 40 year old whisky you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value.