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Scotch Whisky Legends: St. Magdalene 1964 15 Year Old Cadenhead Dumpy

If you have read my ‘about’ section on the ‘Team’ page of The Whiskey Wash, you will know that I have a particular affinity for Cadenhead dumpies. These understated bottles often contain some of the most precious scotch whisky, both in terms of its age and its provenance. 

The Cadenhead Dumpies were bottled at such a time when whisky was made to be drunk, and not viewed as a luxury asset. Consequently, bottles like this are extremely rare, making them even more precious. 

As such, today on Scotch Whisky Legends (formerly WhiskyFun Legends) I thought I would take a look at the St. Magdalene 1964 15 Year Old Cadenhead Dumpy, rated an impressive 94 points by Serge Valentin on WhiskyFun

The St. Magdalene 1964 15 Year Old Cadenhead Dumpy 

St. Magdalene Distillery is no more. On the site now is a block of flats.

A lost Lowland distillery, and yet another plant that closed during The Whisky Loch, St. Magdalene is lamented by those who enjoyed its gentle, floral profile. Aged St. Magdalene stocks are increasingly rare, sought after, and expensive. 

St. Magdalene Distillery was founded circa 1753 by Sebastian Henderson. The distillery spent most of its working life catering to blends. However, in 1914, it became one of the founding members of Scottish Malt Distillers along with Rosebank, Glenkinchie, Clydesdale, and Grange. (Of these five distilleries, only Glenkinchie stood the test of time. Rosebank was closed in the early 1990s and reopened for business in 2023.) 

By the time of St. Magdalene’s closure, parent company Diageo had only bottled the whisky as a single malt three times. As such, St. Magdalene fans relied heavily on independent bottlings from the likes of Gordon & Macphail and Cadenhead. 

The St. Magdalene 1964 15 Year Old Cadenhead Dumpy is one such bottling. Bottled in May 1979 at 47.5% ABV, this is a rare example of an old vintage St. Magdalene, the likes of which are increasingly difficult to find. 

In addition, whilst the scotch whisky industry today is experiencing something of a ‘Lowland Renaissance’, drinkers have long been starved of the region’s delicate whiskies thanks to mass closures during the 1980s. As such, any opportunity to try vintage, age-statement St, Magdalene is something to be cherished. As is any opportunity to purchase this elusive whisky.

Serge Valentin, a renowned whisky reviewer and founder of WhiskyFun.com, sampled this whisky in August 2007. So, is St. Magdalene worth lamenting? 

Serge Valentin’s Tasting Notes On The St. Magdalene 1964 15 Year Old Cadenhead Dumpy 

Another one from these marvellous old dumpies. 

Colour: straw. 

Nose: starts all on hay and dried flowers, getting even grassier with time but also wonderfully oily (olive), developing then more on motor oil, ashes, metal polish and very old books that you just open after having found them in the attic. Also whiffs of charcoal and then it’s back to newly cut grass and green tea. Obvious OBE. A fantastic profile that you won’t find in any other malt that I know. 

Mouth: brilliant attack on lemon marmalade and earl grey tea (bergamot), with a fab dryness behind the scenes. And then we have the olive oil again, high-end liquorice, carrot cake (yeah, really), something like very old sweet Parmesan cheese, a little salt (wait, let’s be smart and find an unusual kind of salt… Why not pink Himalayan salt?) Anyway, as you can see, this kind of wonder puts you in a jolly good mood. 

Finish: not exactly long but marvellously candied and still very salty, with something resinous now. A fab old bottle and a fab old distillery. We’ll really have to have another go at an old favourite of ours one day: the 19yo 1979 Rare Malts aka ‘deluxe kerosene for malt freaks’. Anyway, 94 points for this wonder.” – Serge Valentin, WhiskyFun.com, August 2007 

The Auction Prices

Due to the closure and subsequent renovation into living accommodation, there will never be any new whisky released from the original St. Magdalene Distillery. It should come as no surprise, then, that old and rare St. Magdalene bottlings command a premium at auction. 

The St. Magdalene 1964 15 Year Old has only sold at auction 8 times since September 2007. Most recently, the bottle sold in January 2024 for £1,650

Buy St. Magdalene Scotch Whisky 

On The Whiskey Wash Shop, we currently have two St. Magdalene scotch whiskies for sale: a St. Magdalene 1982 28 Year Old Old Malt Cask and a St. Magdalene 1965 Connoisseurs Choice. The Old Malt Cask bottling, by virtue of being distilled in 1982, contains some of the last whisky ever produced at the lost distillery, making it a true scotch whisky relic. 

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Beth Squires

Beth joined Mark Littler Ltd full-time in October 2020 following the completion of her university degree. Since then she has gained wide-ranging knowledge of all things whisk(e)y, and has written extensively for both company and external publications. Beth is passionate about industry innovation, marketing, and sustainability. With a particular affinity for independently bottled rare scotch, Beth is also a whisky bottle investment specialist.

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