Whisky Review: Syndicate 58/6 Blended Scotch - The Whiskey Wash

Whisky Review: Syndicate 58/6 Blended Scotch

Syndicate 58/6 Blended Scotch Whisky

Photo by Whisky Kirk. Image copyright The Whiskey Wash.

When a whisky has a name that makes you feel as though it belongs on a James Bond movie set, or perhaps sitting on the conference table at a Trilateral Commission meeting, then you know you’re really onto something…at least for a blend.

The explanation for Syndicate 58/6 can be found on its rather attractive blood-red box. The tale starts out with a rare blend that was found in 1958 in a warehouse in Edinburgh. A bunch of rare barrels of blended Scotch had been sitting in this warehouse, which had been owned by the infamous William Muir Bond. At that time, there were six directors on the board, all of whom tasted the blended single malt Scotch whisky. Hence, its obscure name today (58/6).

How’s that for a convoluted explanation? According to the rest of the blurb on my box, this whisky is actually a blend of 18 single malt whiskies and four single grain whiskies, all of which were added to the original “mystery blend” from 1958.

To make matters even more complex, the blend of a blend was subsequently replenished by using a solera system. Now, if you’re not familiar with solera, it’s essentially a way of adding in new whiskies to the original blend, and thus stretching it out even farther. Subsequent batches are produced by using a portion of the portion, and so forth, and so on.

After being blended together, 22 whiskies, together with an unspecified portion of the original blend from 1958, were all matured together for a couple of years in four-year-old Oloroso sherry casks. Water was then added to blend of a blend, thus lowering the resulting ABV down to forty-three percent.

Okay, end of story. Whew! Have no fear if you are confused. The concept of Solera does tend to strain the bounds of credulity, at least in some cases. Be this as it may, Syndicate 58/6 stakes its claim that some of the original stock, from way back in 1958, is still present in the bottle that I am reviewing.

Speaking of which, I uncorked it a few weeks ago. Let’s pour a dram to see how the spirit inside is feeling. Personally, I like the idea of tasting a bit of history in the making . . . whether it’s entirely factual, or a marketing gimmick based upon what quite possibly could have been very good intentions.

Tasting Notes: Syndicate 58/6 Blended Scotch

Vital Stats: Syndicate 58/6 blended Scotch whisky; 43% ABV / 86 Proof; bottled circa 2014; 750 ml; prices these days hover around $150.

Appearance: Tawny in color, with nice legs that flow smoothly down the glass; moderate beading.

Nose: Okay, the nose is already making me reconsider the merits of a Solera system of blending, as well as in the idea of alchemy. A rich Speyside character is immediately detectable, with stewed fruit compote, as well as orange peel. Not to be outdone, barley makes its presence known. This comes through as Scottish oatmeal with brown sugar, along with a light sprinkling of cinnamon on top. Yes, and there’s also vanilla extract, with a faint grassiness that reminds me of my very last bottle of Rosebank (RIP).

Palate: The Lowland character continues, but its delicate flavor struggles against a sweeter, and more visceral, Speyside bombast. Dried hay in the barn yields to Oloroso wine sugars in the oak casks. This heightens the sense of dried fruits–such as figs, dates, and raisins–along with a noticeable oak presence. Indeed, the accompanying tannins really do help to moderate the lingering effects of sherry wood.

I miss that delightful Rosebank presence, and wish it was stronger in the blend of 22 other whiskies that have been crammed into my bottle. Could this be the “rare blend” of whisky from 1958 that I am detecting? Let me take another sip.

Yes…here it is again, fleeting, like a ghost from ’58, overshadowed by so much decadent Oloroso wood presence. Not unlike clown makeup painted onto Milla Jovovich’s face. Why? Too bad. On my last sip, I also detect notes of vanilla bean, caramel, and some biscotti.

Any brilliance on one’s palate ends at the finish, I’m afraid. A clipped finale seems to Exit Stage Left before the final act has concluded. Dare I call it “medium” in length? Barley. A hint of orange peel comes through again, along with some lemon zest . . . even while a kind of fatuous maltiness hangs back on the tongue, unfocused and bland. Oak tannins are present, but muted. A hint of allspice beckons, and perhaps a few grains of cinnamon.

The Takeaway

I find myself wondering what my bottle cost back when it first introduced in 2014. So many questions come to mind regarding this rather arcane release. In a way, I kind of like that sense of mystery.

In terms of logistics, I'd like to know how many batches of this blend were made over the years. Just one? And how many bottles were produced in the batch? There does come a point at which the whole Solera business becomes a little tiresome, especially with a whopping 22 other whiskies in the blend. I'm not saying that Syndicate 58/6 has reached the point of no return, however.

Why? Because I simply don't have enough information to determine whether indeed it is reasonable to assume that a customer who buys the stuff and takes a drink is really getting a sense of what the (allegedly) historic blend back in 1958 actually tasted like. As for what my nose and palate have told me, well...you can see the evidence in my tasting notes.

I'll let you come to your own conclusions about whether this bottle is worth $150 if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to find one.  I'm sure Binny's of Chicago will be more than happy to take your money, if you live in the State of Illinois. Just don't expect to be politely compensated for your loss should you be unfortunate enough receive a broken bottle in the mail...even if you have a long history of buying dozens of expensive bottles prior to the unfortunate one that falls victim to heat, rough handling in shipment, or an Act of God.

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User Rating 3.25 (4 votes)
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