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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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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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