Berry Brothers Choicest Liqueur Scotch Whisky ‘Of Great Age’. Bottled circa 1970. 70 proof.
An old brand by Berry Brothers that was most likely a classy vatted malt with a decent bit of age. From a time when ‘of great age’ meant more than it probably would today.
Colour: Light copper
Nose: Take a box of tools, rub with good quality shoe polish, add a couple of old leather-bound library books and then a good slosh of wet gravel and you might be approaching something of this nose. Of course there are also all these wonderful herbal subtleties, little prickly notes of resin, old hard wood shavings, the inside of a freshly made quality acoustic guitar (niche tasting note I know) and then – with about a minutes breathing – wonderful fruits both tropical and green. This really does give the impression of ‘generic old style, mature malt whisky from the 1950s/60s’. You get a clear sense of what they were trying to do with this brand, incidentally probably one that was not too expensive at the time.
Palate: There’s a clear sherry component lurking somewhere in here, beautiful and delicate notes of wet earth, ginger bread, darjeeling tea leaves, old cognac, raisins and fruit loaf. The only frustration is that you can feel how great it must have been at full strength or even 80 proof. Lovely resinous, slightly drying mineral notes coming through now with more classical waxy and spicy notes.
Finish: Good length for 40%. More notes of tea leafs, raisins and various fruits and minerals.
Comments: What a shame about the strength but it’s still incredibly delicious. The sort of whisky you can imagine a couple of dottery old Tory backbenchers quaffing unfeasibly large measures of while chomping cigars and gleefully contemplating Ted Heath’s recent election victory in the corner of some smoggy bar in the House Of Commons.
Berry Brothers Choicest Liqueur Scotch Whisky ‘Of Great Age’. Bottled circa 1950. 70 proof.
Lets see how the same brand was 20 years previously…
Colour: Light gold.
Nose: Peat. Immediate peat – of a style that just isn’t made at any distillery today and hasn’t really been made in Scotland since the 1960s. A peated farmyard full of old tractor sheds, sheep fanks, peat fired kilns and motor oil. More of these tool boxes, flints, hay bales, silage and greasy rags. Sounds a bit strange perhaps and it was actually a bit stranger when it was first opened but after a week of breathing this has turned into the love child of Brora and a 1940s Highland Park. A wee twinkle of fruits dancing around in the background. Coal hearths and a great big church candle full of wax as well.
Palate: Now the slight weirdness returns, a whole farm in a glass with wormwood, ancient absinth diluted with ancient Chartreuse Vert and chamomile, caraway and old bonfire embers. Gravel and graphite oil with overripe bananas and yet more quite stinky farminess. I really love this but I know some would find it quite extreme and quite weird. It reminds me of an very old Lagavulin Spring Cap that was extremely coastal to the point of being fishy, this is similar but in an extremely farmy direction. Big, fat, greasy peat still floating about in there. Nothing like this has been made for decades in Scotland.
Finish: Long, hefty, farmy and peaty. A big, quirky old bruiser of a dram.
Comments: It’s a tough one to score, it’s so much fun and I really like it, although I can understand why others might struggle with it. Lets be diplomatic and say:
Score: Technical level: 87/100 – Personal level: 91/100
Stay tuned for Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 3. In the meantime If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy these: