This is an article dedicated to a friend and a donor of a bottle to my collection of what I would consider a piece of history, Chris Walker. This bottle was discovered in his house recently and was bottled circa 1980 as best as we could determine. He donated the bottle for the purpose of it becoming the centerpiece of a future article of mine. Today I bring both him and you, my readership, the requested article.
Cutty Sark is a brand of blended Scotch whisky produced in the Speyside region of Scotland by The Edrington Group at The Glenrothes distillery. Although The Edrington Group no longer own The Glenrothes brand of single malt Scotch, the distillery by the same name remains in the company’s possession. The Edrington Group purchased the Cutty Sark brand from its previous owner, Berry Bros and Rudd in 2010. Some of the more notable brands produced by The Edrington Group include Macallan, Highland Park, and The Famous Grouse.
Now, this is not an article to review the bottle of Cutty Sark as would be the case in the majority of this Examiner’s previous articles. I personally do not feel that would be fair to the bottle I received as it had suffered a bit from oxidation over the years of being opened and enjoyed by the original owner. Instead, this is an article imploring The Edrington Group to return the whisky to the formulation in the older bottling. The following were the most important aspects that were of note about this particular bottle as opposed to a newly purchased one.
- The Color – As you all will be able to see with your own eyes via the included slideshow, the older bottling was a much deeper and darker brown than its more contemporary brethren. I am unsure why this is the case, but I assume it is due to a much shorter aging cycle for the whiskies included in the current blend.
- The Aroma – The older bottling of Cutty Sark was more oaky, smoky, fruity, toasty, nutty, and mature than the newer bottling. Again I am assuming that this was due to a longer resting period in the barrels.
- The Flavor – Cutty Sark circa 1980 was an entirely more complex whisky than its newer counterpart. Even though the oxidation had affected the whisky detrimentally, it still was more smoky and distinct. It contained heavier notes of fruit and nuts and the mouthfeel and finish were even smoother than Cutty Sark is now in the present. This is even more bizarre when the next bullet point is factored in. Which brings me to…..
- The Proof – Cutty Sark is sold now at 80 proof. This older sibling was bottled at 86 proof, akin to many other higher-end blends and single malts on the market.
Again, this article is not intended by any means to slam Cutty Sark in its present formulation. It is instead intended to urge Cutty Sark’s new owners to return it to its former glory. I can’t stress this point enough. Cutty Sark in its current incarnation is still a completely enjoyable Scotch worth its asking price, all matters considered. However, when an iconic product with such a rich heritage is morphed into a variant that hardly resembles its own self, something must be done about it in my honest and humble opinion. Then again, these are just my two cents on the topic.
If anyone reading this is not familiar with this whisky, feel free to pick up a 750 ML bottle of Cutty Sark Original Scots Whisky at the Beverage Shoppe located at 2230 Buckthorne Place, The Woodlands, TX 77380-3812 (281) 363-2772 for around $22. It can also be purchased at your local Spec’s and many other fine spirits emporiums throughout the greater Houston area.