This whisky may seem a bit anti-climactic, since earlier today I looked at Lot 40 CS 11yo and CC41. But this one is interesting - a 375ml of Gibson's Sterling I bought at auction (with a 1971 Gibson's 12 year old), bottled I believe in the 1980s. The label advertises that the oldest whiskies blended here are at least 21 years of age. It is freshly opened.
The colour is a pale yellow. On the nose I immediately get buttered popcorn, a similar note to what I was getting on the CC 40 & 41 year olds (indicating to me that this is, if not 100% corn, by far mostly corn). It noses fresh and herbal, also candy floss, Mackintosh toffee and runny honey. A few drops of water brings out tobacco. Nice nose but a bit cloying.
Creamy on the palate with more toffee, marzipan, vanilla and some gentle oak. A touch of spice with chili and black pepper. Very buttery, more so with water. A tad sweet but very pleasant.
The finish is soft, long-lasting and full of buttercream, cloves and vanilla. I get the age with those spices and creamy / buttery mouthfeel, but it definitely leans toward the sweet side as with many Canadian whiskies of the 1980s. How does it compare with today's Sterling? Well, for one thing, the current bottling says the whiskies within are only four years old (nothing at 21!). The colour is a hair lighter than the 1980s bottling (but only a hair). The current bottling is weaker on all fronts (but it's not bad, and I'm glad it's not as sweet), though let's face it: the 1980s bottling is nothing to get super-excited about.