The other day while browsing an auction, an old bottle of whisky caught my eye: Young’s Mountain Dew. This blended whisky was bottled by an Edward Young & Co. Ltd and the old-style label and unlikely claim ‘Scotland’s Oldest Whisky’ really appealed to me.
Basically, it just looked very old-fashioned, and I could see crude seams and imperfections in the glass – definitely an old bottle. The only issue was that the fill level was a little low.
I’m a sucker for nice old bottles, so I left a £50 autobid and forgot about it. Now, £27.50 later (plus commission and shipping), this bottle of Young’s Mountain Dew is sitting on my desk. I can’t wait.
Age-wise, from the antiquarian style of the label and the poor quality of the glass, I’d guess this was likely early 1960s or late 1950s. So the ingredients were probably distilled in the 1950s. And after some internet ferreting I found some intriguing (very circumstantial) evidence:
Exhibit A: This old enamel sign from a 2012 auction (isn’t the internet a wonderful thing?)
It’s basically the identical label on an older style bottle – even the neck label looks right. And, oh look: ‘Matured in Sherrywood’ and ‘Also at Glenugie Distillery’(!!!). The same bottle appears in this ad from 1928. Let’s take a moment to remember that the standard malt content of decent blends in the ‘50s was around 40-50%… but Glenugie was owned by Seager Evans / Schenley by then.
A note on the name: ‘Mountain Dew’ is an old euphemism for moonshine, the whisky (or whiskey) made by illicit distillers of the 18th and 19th centuries in Scotland and later during Prohibition in the USA. It’s also the name of a popular fizzy drink originally marketed as a mixer for bourbon, which clutters up the search results somewhat.
The illicit whisky connection meant Mountain Dew was a powerful name for blends. The exhaustive Whisky Paradise website shows several Mountain Dew and Real Mountain Dew whiskies from such famous names as Robertson & Sanderson, John Gillon and others (including a later version from Edward Young).
Young’s Mountain Dew, 70º proof (40%), 75cl
Nose: Oh my… really lovely sherried aromas, stewed fruit, cooked oranges, prune juice… there’s also faint coppery metallic notes and Brasso as we usually find in old blends, and good polished oak aromas – and is that a faint hint of smoke? A really fabulous nose, let’s hope that the palate hasn’t lost too much to the extra headspace in the bottle.
Palate: Soft, gentle, light-medium in terms of body… but then a sweet hit of honey, raisins and syrup – and there’s the smoke again! Woodsmoke and coaldust come through, lifting complexity and intensity (though it’s still no more than mediumweight, and probably never was), then sweet cooked apples and pastry, with a hint of brown sugar.
Finish: Fading sweetness and smoke, and now a grainy metallic edge comes tingling at the perfect time, carrying the flavours further. Much longer than expected.
Comment: An extinct profile… more evidence that the magic formula has been lost. Glorious whisky history, in my eyes – I had a feeling about this bottle, but it’s even better than I dared hope. Does it have Glenugie in it? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. This is a punt that paid off in spades.
All that for £40 to my (Italian) doorstep. THIS is why I love whisky auctions!