Last Orders for 2015

The end of the line for four great whiskies
By Jonny McCormick
Whisky is the perfect elixir for significant moments in time, whether it's the end of the night, the end of the year, or the end of an era. For whisky bottles, pulling off the foil and easing out the cork is a pivotal moment of finality in itself, though hopefully the irrevocable loss of the bottle's value as a collectible is more than compensated for by the opportunity to taste and enjoy the perfection within.

The distillers mark special occasions with commemorative whiskies too. These can include the end of an era such as the last year of production before closure, or a nostalgic glimpse into old working practices such as the last year of on-site floor maltings. The changing of the guard when an esteemed distiller or blender retires or the final year under a particular distillery manager are further occasions when special bottlings are produced. Industry-only limited editions still find their way out on to the collectors' market, even if they were only produced in small runs for special guests at a dinner. Even these endings find new beginnings.

Great whiskies should be opened and consumed on special occasions; ensure you give 2015 a proper send off. Now we face the final curtain with these four end-of-the-world whiskies. The end is nigh!


"The Ardbegeddon" 1972, 28 Years Old

48.4% ABV

Region: Islay
WM tasting scores: 9.3 & 7.8 (Issue 22)
Recent auction price: €2,225
Date: May 2015

Comment: Michael Jackson described this as one of the best Ardbeg's he had ever tasted. It was bottled By Douglas Laing & Co under their Old Malt Cask label to mark the Plowed Society's gathering in Las Vegas in 2002. Only 227 bottles were released, so it's terribly scarce and highly prized.

Compass Box

The Last Vatted Grain

46% ABV

Region: Grain
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £170
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow
Date: May 2015

Comment: When the 2009 Scotch Whisky regulations came into force, the terms blended malt and blended grain were introduced to replace the term 'vatted'. On the final day before the legislation was enacted, Compass Box released this bottle and the Last Vatted Malt, as John Glaser cocked a snook at the new SWA rules. The Vatted Grain was more limited and has appreciated more quickly than the malt.


Last of the Millennium

56.8% ABV

Region: Speyside
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £90
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow
Date: August 2015

Comment: This chunky 1L bottle was released in 2012 as a distillery visitor centre exclusive. It came from the last cask of the year to be filled at Glenfarclas, which was laid down by the Grant family on the 31 December 1999. Prices have waned since release, so this is worth bidding on at auction if you have an eye for a good deal.


Final Vintage 2014

57.6% ABV

Region: Japan
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £660
Auction: Just Whisky Auctions, Dunfermline
Date: April 2015

Comment: The phrase 'Final Vintage' has been applied to several Hanyu releases distilled in the year 2000, though the whiskies are getting a little older each time. This 2014 edition was sold by ballot through The Whisky Exchange in London. Surprisingly little has appeared at auction, so prices have boomed.