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By 1992 we have the redesigned label and icon with the "phantom" walking man and a reduced proof of 40%.That's right, the proof wasn't reduced from 86.8 (43.4%) to 40% until 1992.The peat shows up here too in the spice and it waxes into a gentle and very well balanced waft of smoke as the midpalate fades into the turn.

At no point does this call out the imperative to be mixed into a cocktail. The grain whisky component is readily detected - but it plays along in a really nice way with the malt. The star of the show is the rich honeyed floral nose and the presence of those flavors in the opening.

But Red Label exists in deep time - born of a marketing name change (from "Special Old Highland") back in 1909 - the year the iconic striding man logo was developed. Y." This shows it's a US import and thus I know that 86.6 proof is US proof.

This is also the year the Lincoln penny replaced the Indian head cent design. So this bottle has a tax strip, uses avoirdupois (4/5th of a pint), and has no UPC code - so were' talking about a bottle that's from the late 1970s or earlier. However, a review of the advertising shows this on a multitude of labels with essentially identical style, importer, and 86.8 proof from 1967 through 1988.

So where does this leave us with dating this bottle?

It's somewhere after 1966 at the earliest and the late 70s at the latest (because of the lack of a UPC code) - and it's tough to be precise.

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I'm sure the 86.8 proof helps a bit over the 80 proof that started in the 90s - but it can't explain all or even the lions's share of the differences. Oliver Klimek did a Red Label vertical covering this period and comes to many of the same conclusions: Ralfy Mitchell performs this exact same tasting and comparison with more wit, verve, and humor than I could dream of - with the high wire act of a live performance.