1959 times two

This time around, Tom found another two ancient samples in his cupboard. That means we’re going back to ‘proper’ whisky, after the Loch Ewe shenanigans from last time!


The year 1959 has gotten so far out of sight, it may sound like history beyond our grasp. War hero Dwight Eisenhower was president of the USA, preceding John F. Kennedy, Britain was under the rule of Harold Macmillan (and Churchill still alive) en we, the Dutch, called Jan de Quay our Prime-Minister. Yeah… ancient days. The sweet thing about whisky is that one can often look at it as bottled history. I like to do so anyway. And it is not often that I have bottled history in my sample drawer, but fate had it that an interesting bottled turned up in a bottleshare club I’m in. A nice occasion to pair it with a sample that had been waiting for a good moment for a longer time. So, here it is, two times 1959 in the glass.

MacPhail’s 1959 & 1960 GM, 40%


Image from Whiskybase

Specially vatted to commemorate the marriage of Prince Andrew to Miss Sarah Ferguson. Didn’t they get divorced? Anyway, who cares? When I first tasted this (blind) I thought it was a grain whisky and even made a connection to the North British 1959 I’m having later. Tasting it again I came to a new conclusion, powered by the suggestion of others, granted. This is wonderful stuff, so delicate.

The overly familiar red tones due to sherry casks that are not in existence anymore. Candy smells that are so present in these holiday times. Also sweetened tobacco.

Spicy, hints of clove. The darker tones of the excellent mulled wine I had after a walk on the beach just a few days ago. Just a little fragile.

A delight, soft, a little too one dimensional, but a fragment of history nonetheless. The emotional element eclipses the quality.


Alright, now, a single cask from Signatory. A grain, no less, but let’s give it fair judgment. At this respected age of 51 years old, it should be a cracker.

North British 1959, Refill Butt #67876, 55,6%, Signatory Vintage


Image from Whiskybase

Obvious glue, nail polish, it reminds me of Japanese whiskies I’ve tried (Coffey still). Sweet & sour sauce from McDonald’s. Bring on the chicken nuggets. Sounds strange but to find this in the glass is exceptional, you could easily nose this an entire evening.

Suprisingly austere. High quality chewing gum. Cinnamon. The alcohol makes it a little secretive. With water it is more enjoyable but nothing spectacular. With grain whisky the distillate is never gonna be as interesting as a malt, so all money is on the cask. And the cask wasn’t that talkative either. 1959 means nothing in this constellation.

Not much going on. Not even with the added water that opened up other sides of this whisky. Never would have guessed this is 51 years old!


Not bad at all, but it never really takes off, except on the nose. I had bigger expectations for this one. Can’t win  ’em all.


About Tom van Engelen

tomI’m a writer in a variety of fields and have a soft spot for whisky, mainly malt, mainly from Scotland. In other times I enjoyed a stint as editor-in-chief of one of the first whisky magazines in the world. When not sipping a good glass I like to write some more, read, watch 007 movies or listen Bowie music. I’m engaged to Dasha, I have a sweet daughter and I live somewhere between the big rivers in the middle of The Netherlands.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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