Select Rarity. It seems simple enough. But when we talk about whiskey — especially single malt scotch — it’s a particularly troubling task. Everyone wants something special. something hard to find; something You are which others cannot obtain. Marketers are keen to tap into that innate desire, of course, and so we’re constantly bombarded with small quantities and limited editions. Even if there is the ability to release a lot more of it than we see on the shelves.
In fact, a lot of times we want nothing until We think it’s rare. Observe the aura surrounding several mothballs distilleries. Old stocks of closed utilities can fetch thousands of dollars per bottle. But if this kind of frantic demand was there again when they were actually on, why were they shut down in the first place? And if they never shut down the store, could production levels have reached a point where they weren’t precious enough to prove followers of a cult? call it “Port Ellen Paradox”.
We’ll be collecting more experimental data on this in the coming years as Diageo reignites still images at the historic site on Islay. And also in Brora – another previously discontinued obsessive object. The scarcity of these brands will eventually become a thing of the past. Then we will know once and for all if people only want liquids Because They couldn’t get it.
But when it comes to Littlemill, the rarity seems a lot more real. It was once the oldest operation in all of Scotch. Back in November 1772 – along the banks of the River Clyde – the Lowland Distillery was the first to obtain a license from King George III to “sell ale, beer, and other unspent liquors”. Which really gives it an air of exclusivity. Then there are the unfortunate circumstances of being burned to the ground after 232 years.
Since then, Michael Henry, a distiller at the Loch Lomond Group, has commissioned the last surviving kegs. We don’t know exactly how much stock is left, but we do know that when Henry authorizes release, it’s in very limited quantities. The latest is the biggest in a generation: a 45-year-old show marking the 250th anniversary of the Lowland Distillery. For compatibility, 250 individually numbered bottles hit shelves in August at a great price of £9,500 a unit.
The internal liquid was withdrawn from the single distillation on October 4, 1976. It was refilled in 1996 at Hogsheads American Oak, before finishing six months in Oloroso sherry casks just prior to filling. However, you don’t necessarily know it from the first sip. The dark fruit marks were absent which were replaced by umami insistence. If anything, the experience of resorption can be defined as indeed very rare.
Meanwhile, the packaging comes as a result of a collaboration with world-renowned photographer Stefan Sapert. The beaker sits in a cabinet resembling a blown Victorian camera box. Sitting in the clouds beneath a silver-on-black glass photographic plate, manufactured by Sappert. It contains an image of a section of the River Clyde near where the distillery once stood. Each painting is clearly unique and bears the artist’s signature and fingerprints on the back.
The messages here are crystal clear: This is a snapshot in time. Littlemill occupies a unique place in Scotch history. One that cannot be completely recreated in the future. Fortunately, his rest stock gives us a chance to look back—one drama at a time. How rare is that exactly? It is up to you to decide.