Master of Malt 1971 North of Scotland 46yo

46 years old, distilled October 1971, bottled July 2018, 41% abv, 154 bottles

Available at Master of Malt

The initial nose has unpolished oak furniture, dried fruits (apricot, apple, banana) and vanilla with a hint of marzipan. The mouthfeel is thin with no cling - to be expected at 41% abv - but there’s still presence on the palate. The body has candied orange cake decorations, cinnamon spice, old unpolished oak, marzipan and hints of pipe tobacco. The finish has marzipan, dried apricot and banana, and old unpolished oak.

I’m torn about whether to add water. At 41% it seems unnecessary. I decided to leave the dram to sit for a while.

Slowly the fruit fades from the nose and is replaced with bready notes. The body gains more fudge and loses some of the marzipan and cinnamon. The finish gains more oak. Eventually a hint of acetone begins to permeate, and the dram is finally done.

At 41% this is delivering quite a bit of flavour on the nose and palate, with the finish being the weakest spot. It seems volatile, so could be sensitive to temperature and should probably not be left in the glass for long periods of time. I poured a little over 1cl and gave it a couple of long breaks to see how it developed. At 46 years old it’s still spritely, but also definitely not a youngster.

Technical score: 4.5/5

Personal preference: I’d like more a bottle.

Overall this is a decent grain whisky. If tasted blind, I’d say it’s worthwhile.

But there’s the elephant in the room we must address.

North of Scotland is a very rare grain distillery. There are rarer distilleries, but this is a very rare dram by anyone’s standards.

So why is it, as I write this, a mere £199.95?

At the end of 2022, that’s a silly price for any 46 year old grain. Let alone such a rarity. There are plenty of slightly younger bottlings of Cambus that will cost you more.

I note that it was bottled in 2018, so I can only surmise that the price was set four years ago and hasn’t shifted.

I rarely talk about the price of whiskies, as different folks have wildly different budgets, let alone views on what is or is not good value. I was even reluctant to mention this here.

I did consider contacting someone at Master of Malt to enquire as to what had happened, but in the end I simply popped one in the basket and bought it. Better to relieve them of the burden of storage than to give them the burden of questions...

I advise you to strongly consider doing the same.

Administrivia: This is a slightly different tasting note to my previews as I got to spend much more time with the dram. I bought this whisky, Master of Malt haven’t the faintest clue I’m reviewing it, and had no control over what I wrote about it.