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Whisky Review #78 – Linlithgow 1982 (SV)

 

Do you know the other name of Linlithgow? If your answer is Saint Magdalene, you are right! Recognized as one of the closed distilleries with fantastic golden liquid, Linlithgow invoked much excitement amongst whisky fans whenever a bottle of its whiskies surfaced in auction sites. The same enthusiasm arose in us when we saw its name on the menu in The Swan Song, and we wasted no time in ordering a dram of the liquid!

Signatory Vintage is the bottler of this particular expression of Linlithgow. Matured for 25 years in a wine-treated butt (cask #2201), Signatory Vintage bottled this expression in 2008 for La Maison du Whisky Collectors’ Edition.

Let us check out this dram now.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 59.2%

Nose: At first, there is a strong peppery spice in the forefront that mixes with the sweet and fruity nose. After airing for some time, the spice disappears, and apricots (wow!) replaces the spice! The intense tropical fruitiness gets stronger, and the nose becomes so fragrant that we can’t help but to bring the glass to our mouths! (18/20)

Palate: Clean mouthfeel with sweet apricots and pears enveloping the mouth as we sip, taking us to a fruity, tropical island where all we want to do is sit and relax. It is incredibly fruity with hints of peppery spice that combines beautifully without being underwhelming. It is the abv talking, and we love it! (18/20)

Finish: The pleasant warmth from the peppery spice as we swallow is comforting, reminding us of the higher abv and why we are enjoying this dram so much. The medium to long finish is full of sweet tropical fruits, bringing us right back to that fruity, tropical island that we were in when we first tasted the liquid. (18/20)

Body: This is a fantastic dram to be sure! Superbly balanced with a right combination of pepper and fruity flavours, it is an exciting dram to try. Words cannot justify the experience, and you just got to try it to understand why we love it. (37/40)

Total Score: 91/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “Well, if I did not know this is a Linlithgow, I might think that it is a Littlemill. The dram showcased its Lowlands’ characteristics well and is an excellent expression to start.”

Geek Choc: “Hmm…I think this is fantastic. It is my first time trying an St Mag, and I am not disappointed! I will try more moving forward.”

 

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Have you heard of Glen Flagler Distillery

The story of Glen Flagler distillery linked closely to that of Inver House Distillers. Glen Flagler was a unique distillery as it sat within a larger complex known as the Moffat complex in Airdrie. The purpose of Glen Flagler was to fill in the gaps for Inver House’s blends, but eventually, the company released some single malt expression. There was also a “Pure Malt” expression of Glen Flagler.

History of Glen Flagler

Inver House Distillers (IHD) formed in 1964, backed by Philadelphia’s Publicker Industries. IHD in turn established Glen Flagler in 1965. The distillery found its home within the Moffat complex in Airdrie, together with Garnheath grain distillery. Within the compound, there was another distillery named Killyloch.

The name, “Glen Flagler” honoured the owner of Publicker Industries, Simon Neuman. Flagler was the name of a road in West Palm Beach, Florida, where Neuman stayed. IHD initially built Glen Flagler for their blends but later on, also released official single malts such as the 5-year-old, 8-year-old and a NAS bottling in the 1970s-1980s. A 30-year-old expression appeared in 2003! Independent bottler Signatory Vintage also bottled a handful of expressions during the 1990s.

Tough Times in the 1970s

Troubles brewed for Publicker Industries in the 1970s, sending waves of unfortunate events to IHD. These events affected Moffat complex. Killyloch closed in the early 1970s, and only Garnheath grain distillery and Glen Flagler continued soldiering on. Alas, it could not last either, and IHD shut Glen Flagler in 1985. Garnheath grain distillery shuttered in 1986.

Current Status of the Site

Sadly, IHD demolished the Moffat site in 1988, bringing Glen Flagler distillery to the dust as well. Currently, only the warehouses, blending and bottling facilities remained and acted as Inver House Distiller’s headquarters.

Glen Flager Whiskies

As mentioned, the whiskies from Glen Flager are hard to find. The official releases appear in auction sites now and then so if you are looking to own a bottle, watch out for them! Otherwise, you can find the Glen Flagler 5 Years Old at The Single Cask as a part of their “Old but not Forgotten” flight.

 

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A Short Story about Saint Magdalene Distillery

Saint Magdalene, also known as Linlithgow, was a Lowland distillery that had its heydays back in the 1800s-1900s. It was a rather large distillery that occupied the coveted position between the Union Canal and the railway line. The distillery had both its railway line and pier, which was something that other distilleries did not have.

History of Saint Magdalene

Saint Magdalene was one of the five distilleries within the town of Linlithgow and outlasted every one of them. Sadly, it followed the paths of the other four distilleries. Sebastian Henderson built Saint Magdalene in the mid-1700s.  He aimed to oppose the Bulzion distillery that opened earlier.  Nothing much was known about the distillery in its early days. The fate of Saint Magdalene changed when distiller Adam Dawson bought the distillery in 1798.

Adam was an experienced distiller who operated the Bonnytoun distillery nearby. He transferred his operations to Saint Magdalene after purchasing the distillery. As the years passed, Dawson’s business grew by leaps and bounds, and he expanded the distillery to absorb the lands of the defunct Bonnytoun distillery. The distillery stretched across 10 acres of land in its most successful years.

Saint Magdalene in the early 2oth

The Dawson family owned the distillery until 1912 when the family ran into financial issues. Faced with a decline in the market and the intense competition within the Scottish whisky industry, the Dawson family liquidated their company, A&J Dawson. With the liquidation, Saint Magdalene had to go. Distiller Company Ltd (DCL) bought the distillery and further licensed it to William Greer and Co. By 1914, Saint Magdalene joined four other distilleries to become the Scottish Malt Distillers. The other four distilleries were Glenkinchie, Clydesdale, Rosebank and Grange.

Closed for Good

DCL (now Diageo) continued to operate Saint Magdalene throughout much of the 1900s, but unfortunately, the distillery closed down in 1983. Saint Magdalene was one of the nine distilleries that were closed by the company. Diageo removed the stocks and renovated a part of the distillery into residential flats in the early 1990s.

Nonetheless, you can still see the malting barn and kiln at the original site, as they are C grade listed buildings (under protection). The pagoda roof (you can see it in the above picture) is the last reminder that this was once the magnificent Saint Magdalene distillery.

Saint Magdalene (Linlithgow) Whiskies

Saint Magdalene (Linlithgow) whiskies may not be affordable, but they are mostly good whiskies which you can try at whisky bars that serve old and rare whiskies. For example, we had a pleasant experience at The Swan Song where we got to taste a (Signatory Vintage) Linlithgow 1982 (25 years old). The sweet and fruity experience was not something to forget quickly! If you look to own a bottle, watch out for them in auction sites but do be prepared to pay heavily for a bottle.

 

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