The Last Drop Distillers

Tasting some seriously old liquid from the ‘rare spirit hunters’

Just prior to Christmas I was invited along to something that promised to be rather special. But I didn’t realise quite how special it would end up being until I arrived and scoped-out the rarities on the table. But more on that in just a few moments.


The event was held to welcome The Last Drop Distillers to Australia, and their extremely limited range of very old, very premium (and rather pricey) beverages to Australia. You’re entirely forgiven if you haven’t heard of The Last Drop Distillers, as their whiskies aren’t exactly the kind of thing you’ll find on supermarket shelves. They greeted the world back in 2008; the brainchild of two pioneers of the spirits industry – James Espey OBE and (the late) Tom Jago – and their ethos was simple. They were going to source and bottle the world’s finest, rarest and most exclusive spirits. Ten years later, they’ve risen to the challenge and continue to only offer liquid that they firmly believe to be unique, delicious and extremely limited in nature.

The Last Drop in Australia

We were very fortunate to have Rebecca Jago, Managing Director and daughter of the late Tom Jago in Sydney to share the above, and some of her personal stories, while taking us through the following extraordinary line-up.


First on our list was a 1971 Blended Scotch Whisky, that had an interesting back-story to it. This particular whisky was originally blended in 1983 as a premium 12 year old whisky for the American market, but after a portion was bottled, the remainder made its way back into 11 ex-Oloroso sherry butts where it sat un-touched for a further nine years. A small volume was again bottled at the age of 21 years, but for some reason a further parcel was held back; this time filled into nine ex-American Oak barrels. Another 24 years passed before the now dwindling parcel of whisky was discovered by The Last Drop, who then bottled it at 45 years old.

On the nose and palate this was completely convincing. A rich, flavourful blend that showed layers of complexity, no doubt brought about through a combination of great spirit, age and the complex cask treatment it had been through over the previous 45 years. Two minor issues with this one – 1) me consuming it with too much gusto, and 2) not having more in my glass to savour!


Two very Glenrothes

If the blended whisky wasn’t special enough, we were also treated to two 1968 vintage Glenrothes, which form part of trilogy which The Last Drop will be releasing over three consecutive years. Approaching whisky of this age, I’m always quite skeptical as not all whisky can withstand 50 years in an oak cask and it doesn’t always end well. I’ve been very fortunate to try a number of whiskies aged between 40-60 years and there are only a handful that I’d genuinely want to drink again and again. These two fall into that category.


The nose and palate were well and truly still alive with notes of earthen floor dunnage warehouses, old oak, and overripe tropical fruit, fleshy stone fruit, marmalade, liquorice straps, apple skins and baking spice. They both shared an awful lot in common and were an absolute treat to try.

The Centenario Port Duo

As dessert was served, Rebecca introduced us to something a little bit different, two Tawny Ports which represent The Last Drop’s first foray into fortified wine. The two bottles of port are presented as a set and hail from the Douro valley in Portugal.


Why the two bottles? Well, to provide their lucky owners with the chance to indulge in what has to be a once in a lifetime kind of experience. One of the bottles is a 1970 vintage, which in itself is a mighty special thing. However, the other pre-dates it by 100 years and is an 1870 vintage. Yes, 1870, allowing you to taste the effect of 100 additional years of ageing. Having had the privilege to try both, side-by-side, I can confirm it’s a mighty special thing indeed.

The 1970 is still vibrant and full of bright fruit notes, honey, sticky plums, berries and the perfect amount of acidity. The 1870 vintage is almost like a reduced, caramelised version of its younger sibling. The viscosity is unreal; it’s syrupy, incredibly rich and is like a glass of liquid flame raisins.

If you’re in the market..

Apart from needing to taste exceptional, all releases that come out from The Last Drop have to have pedigree and flawless provenance and authenticity. Such is their criteria that since 2008, just 12 ‘last drops’ have been released, encompassing some incredibly rare Scotch whiskies (such as this 1967 Glen Garioch I tried a few years back), along with some very rare cognacs.


The trio shown above will all be available through Dan Murphy’s here in Australia, starting at $5,000 RRP for the 1971 blend. Expect to see some further interesting releases from The Last Drop in 2019, possibly even including a super premium Bourbon!

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban

12 years old, 46% ABV, American Oak and Ruby port pipes, Northern Highlands, Scotland

Around 2008, Glenmorangie released what we now know as the current range of  ‘extra-matured’ whiskies. The range of three includes Lassanta (finished in ex- oloroso sherry casks), Nectar d’Or (finished in sweet French sauternes wines casks) and this one, Quinta Ruban which has been finished in Portuguese ruby port pipes.

Quinta Ruban

To arrive at these ‘extra-matured’ whiskies, Glenmorangie start with their standard 10 year old, which has been resting away for ten years in American white oak (first fill and refill casks).

They re-rack this whisky into the wine casks mentioned above for a further two years of maturation, bottling each expression at 12 years of age. The other big difference between the extra-matured range and the standard 10 year old is that they’re each bottled at 46% ABV (instead of 40%). They’re also non-chill filtered – preserving loads more of those delicious oily flavours.

Quinta Ruban label

Did you know…

Glenmorangie have long been considered one of the pioneers of cask finished or ‘extra-matured’ whisky. Well before the current extra-matured range was released, Glenmorangie were re-racking their whisky into various wine casks, as far back as the late 1980’s. Some of these casks were pretty exotic too! Truffle Oak anyone?

Often referred to as one of their best and one that collectors regularly pay big dollars for is their 1975 Tain L’Hermitage. Distilled in 1975, it was moved into Côtes du Rhône wine casks in 1999, then bottled in 2003 at 28 years old (there was also an original version bottled in 1995, but it’s as rare as hen’s teeth).


The first thing I got was more spirit than usual, not surprising given it’s bottled at 46%. Sweet vanilla bourbon notes from the American white oak are there, but they’re dominated by a rich sweetness. Not super fruity, but more sugared plums, cherry and wine notes. I got a hint of spice and also some curious fresh/cooling notes – butter menthol of some sort?


On entry, this has a reasonably oily mouth feel and is quite sweet and creamy. I also got a fair amount of spice on the side of my tongue, but it dissipates rather quickly, leaving behind a second wave of creamy sweet plummy notes, some dark cherries and a slightly tingling raspberry jam flavour. The port has had a big influence on this one.


The spice on the palate fades as fast as it arrives, leaving behind a really curious tingling sensation, almost fizzy or carbonated in a sense. Can’t say I’ve experienced that sensation in a whisky before! Some light oaky bitterness, nice medium length warmth and some traces of that cooling butter menthol from the nose start to emerge.


Even though the port finish is pretty heavy on the nose and palate, this is still unmistakably Glenmorangie. I love the fact it’s non-chill filtered and that they’ve bottled it at 46% ABV (makes me wish the standard 10 year old was the same).

I personally found the fizzy tingling sensation a little odd and the port dominated a bit too much for my liking, taking away from the more delicate Glenmorangie notes that I really enjoy. In saying that, I can definitely see this being enjoyed by many as a great digestif style whisky.