Whisky Review: The Last Drop 1977 Dumbarton Single Grain Scotch Whisky

, | May 18, 2020

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Sazerac. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Today we have a rather old expression from a historic Scottish distillery, which has been bottled by an exclusive spirits company with extensive experience and knowledge. A rather interesting situation, if you ask me. If you haven’t heard of The Last Drop Distillers and you’re into old and rare whisky, it’s time you look them up.

The Last Drop Distillers has a unique approach to the whiskey market, and rightly so. Their founders are iconic for their contributions to such brands as Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Baileys Irish Cream and even Malibu! James Espey, Tom Jago and Peter Fleck created the company in 2008 with the goal of bringing unique, rare, delicious whisky to the consumer.

Key word here is rare – because they are seeking out just barrels of very, very old product. The expression we’re tasting today only had 150 bottles of Scotch whisky left to bottle! This grand picture is now continued on by the founders’ daughters, Rebecca Jago and Beanie Espey, in partnership with parent company Sazerac.

This exclusivity is partially what makes their releases so attractive, especially to people willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a bottle. What they really emphasize, though, is that they are truly finding the best whisky they can. Their expectations are incredibly high for quality, and this quest is proving to gain them the respect they surely deserve.

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The XVII release is a 1977 distillate from the Dumbarton Distillery, which was founded by Hiram Walker himself. When Dumbarton began distilling in 1938 it not only was one of the first distilleries to use stainless steel columns from America but was also the largest grain whisky producer of the time. The doors were shuttered in 2002 and the remaining buildings mostly torn down by 2018.

What lives on today for the purposes of this offering is a single grain whisky aged for 42 years on ex-bourbon casks. Jim Murray of the Whisky Bible gave this particular expression 97 points, an impressive rank for such an old spirit. Usually, the bourbon oak blasts out the lighter grain whisky, but not this time!

The Last Drop 1977 Dumbarton Single Grain Scotch Whisky

The Last Drop 1977 Dumbarton Single Grain Scotch Whisky (image via Sazerac)

Tasting Notes: The Last Drop 1977 Dumbarton Single Grain Scotch Whisky

Vital Stats: 48.4% ABV, 42 years old, ex-bourbon oak, distilled in 1977, only 150 bottles released at a suggested price of $3,000 for a 750mL.

Appearance: Rusty orange, with an emerald hue.

Nose: Coconut, caramel, sawdust, almond oil, vanilla, black pepper and currants.

Palate: Bourbon oak first, then a bit of plain wood char. This takes a back seat and we the palate leads into mint, coconut, red fruits, and a balance of fresh spirit and age. A unique harmony comes forth that makes your mind ponder only in the way old whiskies can.

The Takeaway


The time in barrel is definitely noticeable here, and it provides for a unique marriage of American bourbon barrel and Scottish distilling know how. Upfront it is a bourbon-rye familiarity, but when you dive deeper you find a more unique character. It is subtle, though, and I wonder if the American side isn’t beating up the more elegant aspects.

However, overall it’s an impressive expression. The flavors and mouthful are wonderfully balanced and it drinks unlike anything you can buy at your daily liquor store. It is a bit unfamiliar, which is why I have a difficult time placing it higher.

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Cameron Holck

After graduating with an engineering degree in Colorado, Cameron Holck discovered his passion for hospitality. He followed his love of the outdoors into the Pacific Northwest where he continues his dedication to bartending, and as a sales representative for Four Roses Bourbon. He warmly welcomes the fact that a night...