Old Blends: King George IV, 1940s/1950s

Here is the second in my slow-motion series of reviews of old blends—old as in distilled and released a long time ago, not in terms of age (though I do have a couple coming that fit both descriptions). I rather liked the old Dewar’s White Label that I reviewed last week, finding it altogether maltier and peatier than the current unremarkable incarnation, and also possessed of a much better texture at a low strength than even most contemporary malts of similar abv. I’m hoping this one will be as good.

I’m very far from being an expert on these old blends. and I don’t know anything about this particular brand. And though my small share of this bottle split is from a trusted source, the info on the label is a bit confusing as well: the abv is listed as 43.4% but the Whiskybase i.d. also listed is for a bottle at 43%. Meanwhile, other old King George IV bottles seem to be at 40%. I’ve asked the bottle splitter to confirm what the abv of this bottle was; but, in the meantime, if anybody else knows more about the different releases of this whisky, please do write in below. 

King George IV (43.4%; 1940s or ’50s release; from a bottle split)

Nose: Mild sherry notes of the citrussy, leafy kind. The (dried) leaf note expands as it sits. Some softer, creamy notes too with time. Less leafy and a bit peaty with water (shoe polish).

Palate: All the stuff from the nose plus a good dose of peat—not phenolic but earthy with sooty smoke. Tastes very malt-heavy. The fruit (orange) is more prominent on the second sip. As it sits it gets a bit metallic and there’s also a wet stones quality to it; more importantly, the fruit keeps expanding. Not much change here with water—maybe a bit more integrated?

Finish: Long. The soot dominates here and there’s some white pepper and some clove too. Stays fruity longer with more time. Less sooty with water.

Comments: Yet another old blend with a fair bit of peat in it. Baseline peat levels were obviously higher in the industry then. This one—like the old Dewar’s White Label—also has sherry casks in the mix. A very pleasant, balanced whisky. If more contemporary blends tasted like this, I’d drink more blended whisky.

Rating: 86 points.


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