This is the oldest expression of Glengoyne to have been released in the distillery's 88-year history. It has been matured in a mix of American oak sherry butts and refill American oak hogsheads, which have yielded a mere 150 bottles - or, rather, handsome numbered decanters presented in sturdy stained oak chests, each accompanied by a 25ml sample of the liquid and a numbered book signed by Robbie Hughes, Glengoyne's heroic manager.

"Glengoynge" derives from "Glen Guin" - "the Glen of the Wild Geese" - which is why every bottle (including the 50 Year Old) bears a stylised illustration of a goose in flight. The distillery stands in a steep-sided, wooded glen, water by the fast-flowing Blairgar Burn. Until 1905 the site was named "Burnfoot," and at one time it was said there were 18 illicit stills there. It straddles the Highland Line, with the distillery above and warehouses below the Line, and its make was listed as "Lowland" until the 1970s.

Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur Tedder, 1st Baron Tedder of Glenguin, was born at the distillery, where his father was the excise officer from 1889 to 1893. Arthur (senior) became Chief Inspector of Excise, and was knighted for his services to the Royal Commission of Enquiry into Whisky in 1909. Arthur (junior) began his career with the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. By 1941, he was Head of Middle East Command and was soon after appointed Deputy Supreme Commander Allied Forces, beneath General Eisenhower. The current 3rd Baron Tedder, Robin, makes wines in the Hunter Valley, Australia and is an expert on the shiraz grape. In 2007, Glengoyne released a 16-year-old Glenguin Shiraz Cask Finish with his help.

The land thereabouts is owned by the ancient family Edmndstone of Duntreath and they were the first to obtain a license to distil in 1833. Subsequently the distillery was licensed to managers until it was sold to the Glasgow blending company Lang Brothers in 1876. Alexander and Gavin Lang commenced trading in 1861 from the basement of the Argyll Free Church in Oswald Street (which they later took over as a bonded warehouse), giving rise to the jingle: "The spirits below were the spirits of wine and the spirits above were the spirits Divine!"

Lang Brothers had long bought fillings from Robertson & Baxter, and in 1965 became wholly owned by R&B. The distillery was refurbished and the stills increased from two to three, with one wash still and two small low wines stills, the spirit from both being mixed prior to maturation.

R&B was consolidated into the Edrington Group in 1999, along with its sister company, Highland Distillers, and in 2003 Lang Brothers and Glengoyne Distillery were sold to Broxburn whisky blender Ian Macleod & Co.

Long-aged whiskies tend to go flat as they lose alcoholic strength and can lose their original distillery character, dominated by flavours coming from the cask(s) - but not this 50-year-old Glengoyne, which has retained delightful vitality and elegant complexity. Well done, Robbie Hughes!

The original feature is from the Autumn 2021 edition of Whiskeria, delivered to the door of W Club subscribers and also free with any Whisky Shop purchase in store or online. Click here to read the full Autumn 2021 issue of Whiskeria online for free.