The Last Drop Distillers, curators of the world’s most remarkable spirits, will introduce an Autumn Collection of rare, aged spirits for the first time.
The Autumn Collection 2020 will comprise three very limited releases: an aged 1980 Bourbon, a 43 year old Rum and a vintage Cognac from 1959. While each of these spirits has a unique character and different characteristics, they are united by their quality, rarity and charm.
The Last Drop seek out the world’s finest, rarest and most remarkable aged spirits to share with their discerning customers. Their philosophy is demanding but meritocratic: the quest is for the liquid – constantly seeking that elusive but exhilarating blend of age, character and vitality. In over a decade, their uncompromising standards have seen just 18 spirits released under The Last Drop name, chosen from their collection and from discoveries across the worlds of Scotch Whisky, Cognac and Bourbon, and now our first Rum.
The inaugural ‘Autumn Collection 2020’ will feature The Last Drop’s first Rum, something the self-proclaimed “Rare Spirits Hunters” have long sought, and comprises the following:
Release no 19: The 1980 Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey. 240 bottles worldwide
Release no 20: The 1976 “Overproof” Jamaica Rum. 183 bottles worldwide
Release no 21: The 1959 Vintage Grande Champagne Cognac. 21 bottles worldwide
The Autumn Collection 2020 features three exceptional spirits from the USA, the Caribbean and from the south west of France. A tiny parcel of old whiskey found in a corner of the oldest continually operating Bourbon distillery in the USA; a well-travelled barrel of rum from the island of Jamaica tracked down in a bonded warehouse on the Liverpool docks; and a single cask of vintage cognac matured for over 60 years and yielding only 21 bottles (after the Angels enjoyed their share?). Each of them has its own unique story, but they share the star qualities The Last Drop seeks.
Rebecca Jago, Managing Director of The Last Drop Distillers notes: “This is a very special autumn for us: it is an opportunity to showcase a trilogy of superb releases that demonstrate our unique cross category approach. We are particularly excited to present our first ever Rum: this is a spirit we have long hoped to find, but we have been disappointed until now. Each of these spirits is a small marvel of its kind, just waiting to be savoured by those seeking the truly remarkable. The pleasure of curation is in the sharing of the discovery, so we are delighted to be able to share these unique bottles from our collection.”
MORE ABOUT OUR AUTUMN COLLECTION
Release no 19: The 1980 Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey 240 Bottles Worldwide
Our second Bourbon bottling, this comes from the revered Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, site of the oldest continually operating distillery in the USA. Before the distillery was renamed Buffalo Trace in 1999, it was known as the George T Stagg Distillery, and the then Master Distiller, Gary Gayheart, produced some truly exceptional whiskeys. When the distillery was sold to the Sazerac Company in 1992, they bought the whole site, lock stock and barrel.
And, hiding away in the corners of the many warehouses, were some tiny parcels of old whiskeys. One such has now found its way into The Last Drop Distillers’ hand, and thence into our distinctive bottles.
The 1980 Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey was distilled by Gary Gayheart, and was uncovered by his apprentice, Harlan Wheatley, now the Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace. He, and his colleague and friend, Drew Mayville, Sazerac’s Master Blender, have tasted it together and both say it is truly one of the most delicious whiskeys they’ve tasted. Nearly 20 years in wood have given the spirit a rich colour, a magnificent nose and a finish to delight the most jaded of palates.
Drew says: “The taste is the definition of flamboyant with an orchestra of flavours with each flavour harmoniously mingled. Delightful notes of figs, dates, maraschino cherries, wood, saddle leather, pipe tobacco, toffee, plums, raisins, walnuts, and butterscotch. It’s a virtual symphony on your palate. This vintage bourbon is unforgettable as the finish transforms miraculously from a dark chocolate, almond, leather, caramel, and oak to a gentle warming spiciness. It’s truly a memorable and extraordinary experience from the last drops of the past.”
Release No 20: The 1976 “Overproof” Very Old Jamaica Rum 183 Bottles Worldwide
It is with great excitement that we announce the launch of our first ever Rum, and it is a real beauty. We have long sought a rum that was fitting of The Last Drop’s name, but it has been a challenge. Occasionally we have tasted something that we felt was close, but not until this treasure crossed our bows, to employ a nautical metaphor, did we feel we had found the real thing.
This rum has had an interesting life, and a voyage from west to east. Starting life in the south of the island of Jamaica, this rum journeyed from its home in the Caribbean across the Atlantic Ocean, before landing in the famed port of Liverpool, home to some of the oldest rum and tobacco warehouses in the UK.
Our rum’s journey from Jamaica to Liverpool can be compared to that of a child who leaves home in pursuit of an education. Distilled from pure sugar cane in 1976, and put into ex-bourbon barrels to begin its long maturation, this rum spent its formative years at home in Jamaica, soaking up the tropical heat which contributes so much to the character and flavour of Caribbean rums. However, the extreme temperatures also mean that rum will mature – and evaporate – rapidly. After several years enjoying the warmth of Jamaica, this barrel, along with many others, was loaded onto a ship which set sail for the west coast of Britain: Liverpool. There, in a cool setting, with the salty tang of the Irish Sea blowing through the warehouses, the rum settled down to begin a long, unhurried maturation.
On arrival, the rum re-racked, and placed within one of the magnificent warehouses which line the docks of the city (Like this phrase). The cool temperatures, combined with the westerly sea breeze, have given this spirit distinct flavours which speak of its long life and journey (like this phrase). We ascribe characteristics to all our spirits, and this – our first Rum – is no exception.
When we first tasted this 43-year-old rum, we knew we had found the elusive liquid we had long sought. It is undeniably delicious, with the richness of a classic Jamaica Rum, and the smoothness that comes with great age.
Ian Burrell, the Rum Ambassador, has tasted the 1976 Rum and here are his tasting notes:
“The beautiful, rich, dark, bronze like colour of this rum is all natural. The legs are thick, viscous and slow as they trickle down the inside of glass like ‘rum tears of joy.’
“This rum exemplifies the Jamaican funk or ‘hogo’ as the sweet nail polish, ripe apple, pears and tropical fruit caress your nose. There are subtle aromas of allspice & nutmeg that linger in the mix with dried wood and a touch of smoke. On the palate, an initial sweetness of summer marmalade transforms into a warm burnt caramel like body with touches of smoke and tobacco. It has layers of sweet spices that evolve in your mouth from sweet peppers to hints of ginger and nutmeg.
“The finish is incredibly long. The initial sweetness, subtly fades away to a dry spicy cacao, with a tingling of aniseed. The spicy ending of the is a compliment to the incredible ageing of this majestic spirit in American oak barrels.
“A classic Jamaica Rum with all its heavenly glory. Full bodied, meaty unadulterated, with initial natural sweetness and spice with enough ‘Jamaican Funk’ for the true ‘Hogo’ fans.”
97 points out of 100
Release No 21: The 1959 Vintage Grande Champagne Cognac 21 Bottles Worldwide
Cognac has been at the heart of The Last Drop’s collection of remarkable spirits since the earliest days: our second release was a wonderful Cognac from 1950, immediately marking TLD out as collectors and curators of fine old spirits, rather than just Scotch Whisky. Now comes the latest in a pedigree line of extraordinary cognacs. Release no 21 is also our smallest release to date: this single cask of cognac is from the Grande Champagne; the premier cru growing area at the heart of the Cognac region. Believe to have been distilled in 1959, this Hors d’Age cognac has matured for over 60 years in its original barrel, but the angels have been exceedingly greedy, and only enough for 21 bottles remained when we were lucky enough to taste it earlier this year. How so little spirit can retain so much flavour, such brightness and such delicate balance is a mystery: but one we are delighted to have uncovered.
We are proud advocates of our favoured spirits: those that have been aged to perfection. We are particularly proud that we are able to do justice and pay tribute to even the smallest of parcels, especially when they are as delicious and remarkable as this. There are only 21 bottles, and every bottle will be on allocation.
Denis Lahouratate is the Cellar Master at Chateau de Sazerac in Cognac, and has spent his entire career in the world of cognac, most recently as Cellar Master of Bisquit before joining Sazerac. These are his tasting notes:
“Medium gold, with bright yellow gold highlights. Excellent clarity and creamily viscous. The nose is fresh, with tangy citrus notes leading to rich candied exotic fruits and Virginia tobacco. Subtle oak hints. The attack has the same tangy acidity, typical of ageing in a cool, damp cellar, giving a pleasant freshness. Opens out into a full-bodied, supple, round fruitiness, An elegant cognac rich in flavours, and full of finesse, with all its elements in fine balance.”
The Last Drop ‘Autumn Collection 2020
As with all of The Last Drop releases, each bottle comes packaged with a signature 50ml miniature and pocket-sized tasting book with additional pages for personal tasting notes.
Release no 19: The 1980 Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey. RRP: £3,500 (ex VAT)
Release no 20: The 1976 “Overproof” Jamaica Rum. RRP: £2,600 (ex VAT)
Release no 21: The 1959 Vintage Grande Champagne Cognac. On allocation only: POA
Available from November via lastdropdistillers.com and fine spirits retailers