5 minutes with… A very special bottle of 50-year-old Speyside whisky

Wine specialist Noah May discusses The Glenlivet, The Winchester Collection Vintage 1966, made by one Master Distiller to honour another who inspired his career

When Alan Winchester, The Glenlivet’s Master Distiller, was a boy growing up in Speyside, serendipity played its part in a fleeting encounter which led toward the creation of this extraordinary whisky — The Glenlivet, The Winchester Collection Vintage 1966.

The young Winchester was in the back of his parents’ car at a petrol station when he saw a distinguished-looking man step out of a shining new vehicle. Winchester quizzed his parents about who the gentleman was, and they answered that it was Robert Arthur, then Master Distiller at The Glenlivet. As legend has it, Winchester resolved in that moment that he would one day cut a similarly striking figure.

Arthur was in fact the Master Distiller who, as specialist Noah May explains, ‘selected the barrel of 1966 whisky and laid down this rarified spirit, sending it on a journey that would at some point intersect with Alan Winchester’s journey, linking their names inextricably.’

The barrel that Robert Arthur set aside in 1966 has been guarded at the distillery for five decades before being bottled this year. The release is named to honour Alan Winchester — the young boy who is now seven years into a career as Master Distiller at The Glenlivet. 

The Glenlivet, The Winchester Collection, 50-year-old vintage 1966. Direct from The Glenlivet Distillery to Benefit The UK Crafts Council. Speyside. Distilled 1966, sherry cask matured for 50 years, bottled 25 May 2016, at cask strength, only 100 numbered bottles released. Estimate $26,000-40,000. This lot is offered in Fine Wines and Spirits Featuring the Exceptional Collection of Jay Stein on 21

The Glenlivet, The Winchester Collection, 50-year-old vintage 1966. Direct from The Glenlivet Distillery to Benefit The UK Crafts Council. Speyside. Distilled 1966, sherry cask matured for 50 years, bottled 25 May 2016, at cask strength, only 100 numbered bottles released. Estimate: $26,000-40,000. This lot is offered in Fine Wines and Spirits: Featuring the Exceptional Collection of Jay Stein on 21 October 2016 at Christie’s in New York, Rockefeller Plaza

‘The bottle is one of the oldest and rarest releases The Glenlivet has ever produced,’ May explains. ‘Not only was 1966 identified early as being destined for great things, but this single cask was identified from a selection of barrels as being exceptional.’ Those lucky few who have tasted the whisky say it is simply transcendent, and a testament to the generations of Master Distillers who have secured its legacy.

This offering is Alan Winchester’s own personal bottle, and is being made available in our auction of Fine Wines and Spirits, featuring the Exceptional Collection of Jay Stein on October 21 in New York. The winning bidder will also get the opportunity to travel to Scotland as a guest of The Glenlivet, and to become part of the next chapter in this distillery’s story. Proceeds from the sale of this lot will benefit The British Crafts Council.