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White Horse bottled 1970s

Average score from 2 reviews and 2 ratings 86

White Horse bottled 1970s

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White Horse bottled 1970s

White Horse is a blend with a rich history. It was launched by Mackie & Co, who at the time owned both Craigellachie and Lagavulin distilleries. It is named after the White Horse Inn in Canongate, Edingburgh and was first released in the 1880s. Funny detail: the White Horse Inn was actually owned by the Mackie family from 1650 until 1917. In 1927 DCL (now Diageo) took over the brand. They even liquidated the White Horse Distillers Ltd company, even though the blend is still being produced today. I am fortunate enough to try a bottle from the 1970s, at 43%.

OMD! What a lovely old school nose indeed! Layered and intruiging. Sevilla oranges, espresso, caramel on brown toast, rust (I kid you not), old books, dusty basement, roasted walnuts, chestnut and furniture polish. I would not be surprised (I am in fact quite certain) if a lot a Lagavulin went in here, but that the malts also got enough time to mature. Let’s not forget that this was bottled in a period when the whisky loch was filling up quickly!

It is nicely oily on the palate, soft on the spices, but mostly dark and sweet with a smoky edge. The oranges become candied, while the old school effect intensifies. It is the perfect continuation of an already grand nose.

The soothing finish brings a smile to my face… until I realize is was the last drop I still had.

Either I was very lucky with my bottle (batches vary, I am told) of this is just a fantastic blend. Kudos!


This reviewed White Horse sample is from a very well sealed, foil-wrapped metal-wired mini with very little evapouration, and a US import tax stamp which was discontinued in 1977. This mini could have originated any time in the period of 1958 to 1977. This is blended Scotch whisky, with Lagavulin being the largest influence base malt

Colour: very deep, especially compared to the current 40% White Horse

Nose: beautiful, seemless perfectly harmonised flavours of very fragrant sweet peat, mild smoke, gentle malt, and, yes, wheat 'grain whisky'. I'd bet most people nosing this blind would never believe this to be blended Scotch and not single malt whisky. White Horse 43.4% abv blended Scotch smells like the mythic fantastic old malt whiskies of the glory days of the 1950s to 1970s. Superb. By contrast the current White Horse 40% abv smells rather spirity and very young, and the malt and grain flavours are noticeable, but do not show this wonderful integration, forming the whisky into one single piece of cloth

Taste: thinner, a bit less complex than in the nose, but quite robust with bass-pitched peat flavours tasting a lot like both slightly bitter coffee and black licorice. There is much more sour and bitter on the palate than in the nose. All sweetness is completely gone by mid-palate. The palate is more bracing than beautiful and contemplative. Interesting and enjoyable, but different from the nose

Finish: very long, ending on tart and sour, losing the sweet balance

Balance: there isn't a lot of balance here once you get past the nose. A taste for this is similar to a taste for Espresso in the morning for a nice jolt to get you going. Current White Horse 40% abv has a lot of sweetness on the palate and finish, which is completely absent here. This whisky has changed a lot over the years. I could enjoy nosing this old White Horse for very extended periods of time. The nose is spectacular

Thank you, @Pierre_W. I really wish that I had more than that 50 ml worth of this whisky so that I could share the experience with friends, and have more for myself. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

What a brillant review, @Victor! I would have loved to have a go at that nose, too. It is an interesting phenomenon that with whiskies that were bottled a good while ago the nose ususally keeps its profile while palate and finish seem to suffer over the years. I have had the same experience on the few occasions that I had the opportunity to taste really old stuff. Still, this must have been a rewarding experience. A good start into Christmas!

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