The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2015

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80  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2015 PORT F ounded in 1790, the House of Sandeman is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year, and to herald that momentous occasion, George Sandeman, company Chairman and seventh-generation of the founding family, has unveiled Cask 33, an unprecedented 50 Year Old Tawny Port. While most port houses produce 10 and 20 Year Old Tawnies—blended ports composed of "aver- age ages," much like Cognac, and which pour with a rust-amber hue (hence the "tawny" name)—Sandeman is one of the few to have, as a regular part of its line, both 30 and 40 Year Old Tawny Ports. "We have always marked special occasions such as this with the release of special wines," says Sandeman. "In 1990, which was our bicentennial, we released the 30 Year Old and in 2000 we released the 40 Year Old; they were both new blends made with, of course, old stock." But not only is the release of 50 Year Old Tawny extraordinary, it marks the first time in Sandeman history that a Tawny Port, rather than being blended from different casks, is a specific blend from just one outstand- ing pipe—Cask 33—that was selected by Head Winemaker Luís Sotomayor from an already earmarked group of 40 spectacular casks from Sandeman's Largo Miguel Bombarda cellars near the Douro River. Thus, Cask 33 is literally the "best of the best." Although it is classified as a 50 Year Old Tawny, Cask 33 contains Tawnies as old as 70 years, which results in a thick, heady aroma that fills the room upon open- ing the 1790s-style hand-blown glass bottle. The first sip brings apricots, followed by prunes, plums and cinnamon, interspersed with walnuts, stewed cherries and subtle wood in the background. Normally, the aged wines in Cask 33 would have been sparingly used to add finesse to Sandeman's 30 and 40 Year Old Tawnies. But Cask 33 was so exceptional it was decided to bottle it by itself, much in the manner of single barrel bourbons. Thus, only 685 bottles exist, with 150 of them allocated to the United States and priced at $750 each. "I think by its nature, character, and power com- pared to the 30 and 40 Year Olds, it's not in the same sequence, because it's such an individual wine," says Sandeman. "It's a wine that we won't be see- ing again, because it's just one barrel. And now it is part of our history." A Truly Venerable Tawny by Richard Carleton Hacker SANDEMAN CELEBRATES THE CENTURIES WITH CASK 33 George Sandeman (left) with Head Winemaker Luís Sotomayor, closely watched by Sandeman's famous "Don" silhouette logo. One outstanding pipe in the Sandeman cellars—Cask 33—was selected for this spe- cial release, resulting in only 685 bottles. PHOTO COURTESY OF SANDEMAN PHOTO COURTESY OF SANDEMAN PHOTO COURTESY OF SANDEMAN

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