Whiskey week: Massive private collection and 1938 single malt tasting

The Macallan, anyone?

Two weeks ago, I descended into the bowels liver of a Hong Kong apartment complex and came upon… heaven. That is, if you define heaven as a treasure trove of single malt whiskeys – including plenty of bottles from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s – that would fill a small supermarket. (Any hands?)

An estimated 6,000 bottles make up the private collection of Links Concept. The whiskey came via numerous channels – from acquiring other private collections to buying bottles in auctions – and fills about ten aisles. The bottles are neatly arranged and numbered, and many are in protective covers.

I visited the collection with Links Concept GM Patricio de la Fuente Saez, Beijing Capital Club GM Bertrand Petton, and sommelier Jameson Chim. de la Fuente Saez says it includes whiskeys from virtually every distillery in Scotland, with the oldest being a re-bottled 1874 Macallan. I also spotted a few bottles from other countries, including two very old Canadian bottles – Schenley Reserve and Seagram’s V.O. When asked if the collection is  for investment purposes, de la Fuente Saez said, “No, it is for drinking. None of the bottles are for sale.”

beijing-boyce-links-concept-wine-cellar-visit-hong-kong-china-1938-strathspey-and-macallanChim gave us an impromptu tasting – it went at a quick space, thus my notes are sparse, but such is life. We started with a 1938 Pride of Strathspey, aged 48 years, that I found slightly viscous and displaying caramel and spices, and a 1938 Macallan that had a smoky and peaty aroma with a hint of iodine, and a lively body with caramel and spiced apple flavors, a touch of sweetness, and a nice finish. (According to this site, the malt in the Strathspey is also from Macallan.)

We then tried a 30-year-old Macallan, aged in Sherry barrels, with Petton saying the “wood comes right out” and de la Fuente Saez describing it as, “very dry.” I found this edgier than the first two single malts. The last  a Glenmorangie “Sesquicentennial Selection” (21 years old, I believe), had some underbrush and iodine aromas. de la Fuente-Saez said, “it is almost grainy.”

Later we tried a 1946 Macallan, aged 52 years. This one had peat, smoke and iodine on the nose, followed by some sweetness (I couldn’t identify the specific aroma) and flowers. I found the body very smooth, with a touch of bitterness at the beginning and end, followed by a long finish. The last bottle was a Black Adder 1965, aged 39 years, which had I found to be less peaty and more grassy, twiggy, herbal, and salty, with plenty of firepower at 55.6 percent alcohol.

Note: I taste these whiskeys as a consumer, not as a professional, and these are simply my top-of-the-head reactions.