...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Irish Single Malt 26 year old 1988 The Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram

If you've followed any of the major whisky writers (online or in print) you have likely seen them sing the praises of 20+ year old Irish single malts distilled in the late '80s and early '90s. There's one reason why they do so. The whiskey is delicious. That's the reason. And why is it delicious? Frooooooooooot. Fruit. The fruitiness can be kind of outrageous. One only wonders if Bushmills (oops, I said it) can ever reach these heights, or even a suggestion of this style, again. One need only compare the '80s Bushmills blend with the current version to see that something has been lost even at 3 years and 40%abv.

This is my first review of one of those well-regarded Irish malts distilled in the late '80s, and likely my last. Sourcing something like this has gotten nearly impossible. I wonder if anyone opens these bottles anymore or just flips them while citing Whiskyfun 90+ point reviews. Well, here comes a 90+ point D4P review.

Distillery: Old Bushmills Distillery (maaaaaaybe)
Location: County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Bottler: The Whisky Agency
Range: The Perfect Dram
Age: 26 years (1988-2015)
Maturation: bourbon barrel
Outturn: 201 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 50.7%
(from a bottle split)


Oh. Oh baby, the nose. I'll list it in order. Mangoes + peaches + a little bit of guava. Watermelon + jasmine blossoms + apricots. Kiwis. Hints of dandelions and toffee! All those fruits get sugarier with time, and honeys pour in.

It's easier for me to form thoughts about the silky palate. Guava and grapefruit juices mix with honey and a pinch of sea salt. Little bits of menthol, wormwood, and bitter citrus keep things from getting too sweet. There are even herbal and grassy characteristics in the background.

The whiskey leaves behind a tart aura(?!) with a dusting of sugar in the finish. Kiwis, guavas, and bitter citrus peels sink into the tongue, and I'm not sure when the sensation ends.


Heaven for fruit lovers. On the nose, this liquid reads like some beautifully crafted juice. How did barley, yeast, water, and wood turn into this? The palate is more whiskey-bound, complex and perfectly balanced, yet definitely......whiskey. Of course I want more More MORE, but I don't think anyone makes stuff like this anymore, anywhere. Meanwhile, my time machine is in the shop, indefinitely. As always, I encourage everyone to open their bottles and share. Please enjoy together. Cheers!

Availability - Maybe the secondary market, but...
Pricing - ...I won't look
Rating - 92