My ranking for the evening, all things considered:
1952 Barros Colheita
1947 Barros Colheita
1896 Elviro Garcia "refreshed" Tawny
(tie) 1938 Hooper
(tie) 1942 Hooper
1944 Hooper Colheita
1932 Butler Nephew
Infantado V.C. bottled in 1996
My tasting notes deteriorated as the evening went on, mostly because I'm not used to more than 2-3 glasses of Port at a time. We started with the middle row (the '32, '38, and '42) due to insufficient glasses being available at the designated hour, so those have the most detailed notes for me. I then proceeded to the 19th century and the V.C. and finally to "Colheita row."
The first time through I really didn't find the 1873 to be horrible... it just wasn't at all to my liking in much the same way that I just don't care for madeira. I think, though, that this impression was entirely because there had been a decent pause between the first three tastes (the middle row) and the 1873 caused by the arrival and unpacking of the rest of the glasses. So whatever I'd tasted last had disappeared entirely, giving the 1873 it's only shot at a fresh palate. Once it was compared to anything else head-to-head it was pretty dreadful.
I thought that the Infantado V.C. was quite drinkable. Sure, it was one dimensional and plain, but there really wasn't anything actively wrong with it unlike some of the other Ports. I thought it was really interesting to see how a lower tier Port ages.
Aside from the V.C. and the 1896 which was refreshed, everything looked like a tawny to me. The lighting was typical restaurant dinner fare, meaning low and yellow, so I didn't even try to get good color notes. Most of the Ports were cloudy to some extent, the only exceptions being the '38 and '42 Hoopers. Compared to all that cloudiness, those two Hoopers looked like sparkling gemstones on the table.
I didn't take many notes on finishes, other than to note a couple of cases where they were rather short.
Other than the lighting the venue was awesome, and the steaks were fantastic. The truffled Mac & Cheese was very nice too.
I don't know if anyone actually took notes on the 2000 Croft that we bought in order to avoid paying corkage. It was a juicy and vibrant contrast to all the oldies on the table.