Sometimes life imitates art. Sometimes art imitates life. Then there are the times when the whole thing gets so mixed up that nobody is quite sure which is which any more and you start to convince yourself that you might be some sort of superhero until someone tells you to get down from that roof before they call the police. This is not one of those times but it is pretty close.
On June 25th it was announced that the staff at the Lagavulin distillery had found a bottle of the priceless Malt Mill new make spirit, which was from the very last run of the lost distillery, at the back of one of their cupboards. For anyone who has seen Ken Loach’s recent film ‘The Angels Share’ you’ll understand the significance, for those who haven’t here’s my review of the film. If you are too eager/busy/lazy to do that then the main plot point from the film is that it involves the theft of an extremely rare whisky; that whisky being from the lost and almost forgotten about distillery of Malt Mill.
Now I must say that Malt Mill was not a distillery I knew much of before the film but it certainly has an interesting past. In 1907 Sir Peter Mackie lost the sales agency for Laphroaig. Instead of getting a new hobby or looking at other avenues for cash flow Sir Peter decided that he would make a whisky exactly the same as Laphroaig and sell that instead. He based it in the Lagavulin distillery complex. Using almost identical stills and staff from the Laphroaig distillery, Malt Mill began producing in 1908. The whisky was in no way identical to Laphroaig but it carried on being produced until 1962. When Malt Mill ceased producing, the distillery was swallowed up by Lagavulin and is now the reception area of their distillery.
The bottle of new spirit that has been found dates back to the final year of production, 1962. It seems that it has been passed on down the line of Lagavulin distillery managers over the years and after the success of the film it has been made public.
You can read a little bit more about this here. I can’t believe that a bottle like this has just been kicking around somewhere without much attention or love. Hopefully it can now get all the acclaim that it deserves as the last of its kind. I wonder how I can get a taste to help join in the celebration…