Mackinlay's VOB 1960s Whisky Review
Glen Mhor wouldn't have come into existence without the financial clout and connections offered by the Mackinlay's of Leith. Therefore, we cannot offer the most comprehensive Glen Mhor coverage without looking at this blender in greater detail.
After all, it was their desire to have a source of Highland whisky that lead to the chance meeting with John Birnie, and the rest as they say is history. And what a history we're uncovering in 2021 and beyond.
The Mackinlay's seem proud of their distilling heritage with many labels from their releases underlining that fact as you can see in these photographs. The Mackinlay-side of Glen Mhor story hasn't been told or unearthed as of yet. It's on my to-do list for 2022, but alongside is a return to their blends and those that would have contained Glen Mhor, as well as Glen Alybn.
We're kicking off the blending aspect with a bottling of their VOB, or Very Old Blend. For the record, I've also sourced examples from the 1950s and 1970s, which I'll also review individually, before a full comparison in another article.
This particular bottle was picked up at auction in 2021 and the fill level screamed open me or risk the liquid, so I was happy to oblige. We know that this particular bottle was purchased by its original owner in 1973 (I do love those plastic embossed DIY labels, my dad used to label his cassettes in this way as he taped the Top 40 charts), but I'd actually place this bottle as a 1960s release.
There is a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, just experience and actually holding the bottle itself you know that is an older style of glass; thicker and heavier. In the 1970s this blend received a more modern revamp resulting in a total change. Looking at historical adverts from 1950 and this one from 1954:
These show the Mackinlay VOB as pictured here with two slight changes. Firstly, these older bottlings show a patent on the screw cap (not evident on this release we're reviewing), known as a securo-cap, which was used by many bottlers into the 1960s, including Macallan and Gordon & MacPhail. The other, arguably more prominent change, is label related which heralds four generations, but our bottling in comparison, changes this to five generations. The devil is in the detail, although there are no set guidelines around a generation of a family in the marketeers handbook, common sense would suggest 15-20 is a safe average; unless tragedy struck sooner.
Opening any bottle with a reduced fill level is a risk, however, it can be quantifiable and also very overdue in some cases. I was confident we were on solid ground with this bottling. The level hadn't reached the critical point in my view, where things can smell great and the palate is completely wrecked like a Jura 10 on the rocks.
I would give you my own version of the Mackinlay history, but as is always is the case, Philip Morrice (author of the definitive The Schweppes Guide to Scotch) has done a marvellous job already, so here's his detailed summary:
Enough of these facts and historical ramblings! I appreciate your patience and hopefully support, so let's delve into the liquid. Before we do (sorry), I just wanted to highlight after an initial tasting that confirmed the whisky was good. The contents were decanted into various bottles, as I believe in letting things come together after being opened after 6 decades in glass. A couple of weeks later, I returned to review the whisky.
Distilled: Likely 1950s and possibly some 1960s stock
Bottled: As per the article, believed to be the 1960s, possibly the late 1950s.