The launch of the 2022 Collection takes the total number of Last Drop releases to 27 since the company was founded by drinks industry veterans Tom Jago and James Espey in 2008. Tom’s daughter Rebecca Jago is now the company’s MD.
This year’s releases include The Last Drop’s first Japanese whisky: a blended malt that includes whisky from the fabled Hanyu distillery, taken from the beginning and end of its brief lifespan (1980-2000), as well as malts from other unidentified Japanese distilleries.
Married in an ex-sherry cask and bottled at 60% abv, there are 177 bottles of The Last Drop 20 Year Old Japanese Blended Malt Whisky available globally, priced at £4,200 per bottle.
This year’s second release, The Last Drop Hors d’Age Petite Champagne Cognac (70 Years Old) was distilled in 1950 at a family domaine in a tiny enclave of the Petite Champagne cru just north of the Charente river at Bourg-Charente – bounded by the river and the much larger Fins Bois cru.
The spirit was distilled in a small wood-fired still – as was normal in those times for smaller producers – producing a different character of spirit thanks to the ratio of copper to spirit, and the fluctuating temperatures brought by wood firing (when compared to gas or oil).
It was matured in a relatively cool, damp cellar in smaller used casks – imparting little wood influence – and was acquired by The Last Drop while still in cask in 2021, before being bottled at 45% abv. There are 375 bottles available, priced at £3,250 each.
The Last Drop’s final 2022 release is a 44-year-old single malt from the Glenturret distillery in Perthshire, famed for its small size and traditional ‘farm distillery’ practices.
During its chequered history, Glenturret was dismantled in the late 1920s before being resurrected – using equipment from the nearby Tullibardine distillery – by James Fairley in 1960. Fairley was still running the distillery when this whisky was distilled in 1977.
It was matured entirely in an ex-Sherry cask, but one that has exerted only a gentle influence. ‘What I hope you’ll find is the vitality and sparkle that we look for [in our releases],’ said Nick Morton, COO of The Last Drop Distillers. ‘When it comes to age, if it doesn’t add anything, or enhance, it’s just a number on a bottle.’
Bottled at 45% abv, there are 168 bottles of The Last Drop 1977 Glenturret Single Malt Scotch Whisky (44 Years Old) available globally, priced at £4,500.
The new releases represent a fresh beginning for The Last Drop, which has been owned by US spirits company Sazerac since 2016, with the introduction of new branding and packaging, comprising clear glass bottles suspended in oak cases.
Rebecca Jago said that the first 24 Last Drop releases were now referred to as “The Founders’ Collection” – referring to Tom Jago and James Espey – but said the ethos of the company had not changed with this year’s range.
‘They reflect very much the principles with which they started the business: finding extraordinary spirits and putting them into bottles,’ she said. ‘Still today what really matters is the liquid in the bottle.’
The Last Drop has also launched a new podcast series, The Remarkable, hosted by Rebecca Jago and featuring guests including polar explorer and TED speaker Ben Saunders. The monthly podcasts are available from the company website and podcast platforms.
The Last Drop 2022 Collection
Release No. 25: The Last Drop 20 Year Old Japanese Blended Malt Whisky
(60% abv, 177 bottles, £4,200/bottle)
This whisky is all about fragrance and delicacy, from its perfumed exotic fruits to more elusive scents of jasmine and green tea. The warm apricot and peach notes eventually give way to leaner green apple, accompanied by vanilla cream. There’s great breadth and texture in the mouth, and it wears its considerable strength lightly. Restrained and elegant.
Release No. 26: The Last Drop Hors d’Age Petite Champagne Cognac (70 Years Old)
(45% abv, 375 bottles, £3,250/bottle)
In some ways similar to the Japanese blended malt, this is ethereal and fresh, with surprisingly little cask influence. First come pungent floral notes and pot-pourri, then bright, expressive tangerine zest. Initially all soft gentility, it builds in the mouth to reveal richer flavours of sandalwood and nutmeg, before subsiding into grape flower and light fudge.
Release No. 27: The Last Drop 1977 Glenturret Single Malt Scotch Whisky (44 Years Old)
(45% abv, 168 bottles, £4,500/bottle)
Fruit leaps from the glass – intense, juicy, tropical notes of papaya and mango – then things calm down a little, revealing lighter hints of green apple and grape skin. Surprisingly sweet on the palate as the fruits darken, and then a nutty sherried character emerges alongside the unmistakable rancio tang that denotes long age.