Must Reads


Here's another story we heard about this past week. Janet Sheed Roberts - the granddaughter of William Grant, the founder of Glenfiddich whisky - lived to the ripe, old age of 110. She died earlier this year but last year, on her birthday, her family wanted to honor the 110th milestone.

BRIAN KINSMAN: We really wanted to mark the occasion, and so we looked through all our old stocks. And a really nice touch was, we were able to find this cask from 1955.

RAZ: That's Glenfiddich's malt master, Brian Kinsman. He helped select a cask of whisky - which was filled on New Year's Eve in 1955, halfway through Janet Sheed Roberts' life.

KINSMAN: Well, exactly. So by the time she was halfway, you know, this cask was being filled. And then another full 55 years passed by, and she's still going strong at 110.


RAZ: The cask yielded 15 bottles. Roberts' family kept four. The other 11 - one for each decade of her life - have been sold at various charity auctions; one, for $94,000. Glenfiddich calls that a world record. Kinsman says it went to an Atlanta-based whiskey aficionado.

KINSMAN: And he was there, on the night, and we - you know, we had a couple of drams with him afterwards. And he was a lovely man, actually, and we had a good old chat. But he's very knowledgeable about whiskey, and was really keen to get this. I think he was pretty pleased.

RAZ: And yes, Kinsman has tried it.

KINSMAN: I have; I've been lucky enough to have tried it, yeah. And it really is - it's stunning. It's quite - quite different from what you might imagine. You might imagine a very old whiskey will taste really woody and oaky, and be quite powerful. And it's absolutely the opposite of that. It's very delicate. It's very floral and fruity. And it's quite sweet. And it's just incredibly elegant.

RAZ: The final bottle will be sold at auction this Tuesday, in Los Angeles. Kinsman, by the way, says he doesn't get tired of people asking whether all he does is drink all day.

KINSMAN: No, no. (LAUGHTER) That's kind of true, isn't it? (LAUGHTER)

RAZ: On a typical day, he'll sample between 150 and 200 whiskies.

KINSMAN: And I must stress, more - vast, vast majority of them, I'll have just - I'm smelling them, and maybe tasting the odd one or two. But it's quite analytical. You're kind of thinking quite deeply about it, and pulling apart all the flavors, and trying to be sure that you're happy, it's right. And so actually, it's really nice, in a bar, to pour a whiskey and just drink it; and just enjoy it for what it is, rather than think about it too much.

RAZ: That's Glenfiddich's malt master, Brian Kinsman.


RAZ: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from