Gordon + MacPhail’s Affordable Trio – Glendullan, Aultmore, Longmorn

I’ve long been a fan of Gordon & MacPhail – finding they deliver consistent quality for value – even in their younger or entry level ranges. I decided to test this by deliberately selecting a few of their most affordable offerings – all around 50 GBP – for a special Gordon & MacPhail evening with the Whisky Ladies in Mumbai.

The purchasing was easy thanks to help of a friend who stopped by The Whisky Exchange in London. The gradual import into India took a bit more time. What required the most patience of all was waiting for an evening to share with the Whisky Ladies!

Two of the whiskies selected were from their “Connoisseurs Choice” range which was started in the mid-1960s by Gordon & MacPhail to bring to whisky aficionados whiskies that were less readily available as a single malt at an overall reasonable price range.

One was from their “Distillery Labels” range using unique distillery designs once used ‘officially’ to bottle the whisky under license from the distillery, now in disuse except through a special relationship with Gordon & MacPhail.

The Whisky Ladies Gordon & MacPhail trio featured:

  • Connoisseurs Choice – Glendullan 2001/2014 46%*
  • Distillery Labels – Longmorn 2002/2015 43%*
  • Connoisseurs Choice – Aultmore 2000/2014 46%*

*Read on over the coming days to see what we thought!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Peaty Mini – Ledaig 10 year 46.3%

Last in our peaty persuasion session of miniatures was the Ledaig 10 year. This certainly wasn’t my first brush with Tobermoray Distillery’s peaty product… a few years ago my 1st introduction was to a Gordon & MacPhail Ledaig 1997, then our original club sampled the Ledaig 18 year and last summer I picked up the Ledaig 10 year in Winnipeg.

Ledaig 10 year 46.3%

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Dry hay, farm peat, invitingly sweet, grassy
  • Palate – Peat spice, balanced and straight forward
  • Finish – Warming… like being wrapped in a nice warm fuzzy blanket

Overall we put this in the category of a quality bar standard – one to keep in your cupboard and trot out for folks who are getting to know their whiskies and interested in exploring further…

We sampled from a sample from closed miniature in October 2017 purchased from The Whisky Exchange for approximately $6.

And what else did we sample in our merry mini malts evening?

And here’s more malt miniatures from my The Whisky Exchange:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

 

Peaty Mini – BenRiach Peaty Quarter Cask 46%

Next in our miniatures sampling was a little nip from a recent trip to Canada. After some disastrous experiences with decent drams being devastated by poor storage, I was keen to shorten the gap between acquiring the sample and actually tasting it!

BenRiach Peat Quarter Cask 46%

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Peppery peat of a style that is “quite forward”, cinnamon apple crumble, chased by delicious oily bacon
  • Palate – Christmas peat, plum cake, very sweet
  • Finish – Spice sweet, cinnamon

Each sip tells a different whisky – the kind of one we wished we had more of to continue to explore.

We also tried it in the Norlan glass – it smoothed out the palate, yet punched up the flavours, gently rounding and bringing out a dry quality.

And what do the folks at BenRiach have to say?

This UNIQUE single malt has been distilled from PEATEDmalted barley and has been FULLY matured in quarter casks. A smaller cask allows for more INTERACTION between the wood and the spirit, giving the whisky a great depth of flavour and aroma in a shorter period of time. Bottled at 46%, non chill filtered and natural colour, this is an EXTRAORDINARY, full-flavoured dram.

  • Nose – Elegant waves of wood smoke intensify to burning heather with a delicious contribution of ripe orchard fruits. Subtle hints of peaches, cinnamon sugar and a slight herbal note of fresh barley give an added contrast to the unique, rich peat character.
  • Taste – Intense peat smoke mellows to smouldering peat embers infused with green pear and nectarine notes. Nutty oak and vanilla pods combine with a touch of white pepper and a twist of lime to give a crisp, smoky finish.

We sampled from a sample from an open bottle in October 2017… The original bottle was opened on my wedding in June 2017, purchased at a Winnipeg Liquor Store for approx $107.

And what else did we sample in our merry mini malts evening?

And here’s more malt miniatures from my The Whisky Exchange:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Peaty Mini – Longrow Peated NAS 46%

Up next up in our peaty miniatures sampling was an opportunity to revisit Longrow from Campbeltown.

I will admit to a certain fondness for the lone Campbeltown distillery with their trio of styles:

  • Springbank – Most enjoyable dram… including a remarkable 1996 sample
  • Hazelburn – Their un-peated range. Had a most enjoyable evening with a Hazelburn 12 year. Still regret missing an opportunity to purchase their 8 year 1st bottling!
  • Longrow – Their peatier range, once upon a time made an appearance in my whisky cabinet…

The miniature offered an opportunity to sample the NAS avatar simply called ‘Longrow Peated’.

Longrow Peated NAS 46%

LongrowHere’s what we found:

  • Nose – Peaty wet rag or wet dog, organic, earthy, spice. After tasting, the nose took on a slightly tart or sour dimension to the peat.
  • Palate – A lovely tingly peat, viscous, spice peat, pepper, a quite mineral element, very tasty
  • Finish – Peppery peat, delightful

Overall, we found it refreshing to side step sweet to just enjoy a nice peaty dram.

We also sampled it in the Norlan glass – fabulous! It brought out a lovely woodsy quality on the palate and really brought out the best of Longrow on the palate.

Here’s what the Springbank folks have to say:

Longrow Peated offers those who enjoy a heavily peated whisky the chance to enjoy a lingering smoky taste that travels through the senses like the smoke billows from a kiln.

  • Nose: Very creamy, vanilla custard. The smoke develops and toasted marshmallows, herbs and rich fruits appear over time.
  • Palate: Incredibly well balanced – rich and creamy with a slight medicinal hint. The smoke is always present and washes over the palate in waves.
  • Finish: The gentle smoke lingers and lingers.

We sampled from a closed miniature in October 2017… a full bottle would set you back around $60.

And what else did we sample in our merry mini malts evening?

And here’s more malt miniatures from my The Whisky Exchange:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Peaty Mini – Big Peat 46%

Next up in our peaty minis evening after the Wemyss Peat Chimney, we explored a blend from Douglas Laing.

Big Peat 46% (Douglas Laing)

  • Nose – Began with quite a sharp peat that then disappeared quickly. Baked banana or a banoffee cream pie then also settled into a surprisingly restrained fermented apple, quite sweet.
  • Palate – A delicious peat heat, black pepper, green peppercorns, liquorice root, quite fresh
  • Finish – Peat spice, sweet liquorice, changes to red chilli, cinnamon spice

What we enjoyed most about this whisky was how it kept changing. While consistently accessible – in a good way. There was overall a fresh lightness to its approach – unquestionably peat but one with a delightful ‘freshness’ and spirit.

Here’s what the folks over at Douglas Laing have to say:

Douglas Laing’s Big Peat is a feisty Islay character with a sweet side. This is a small batch bottling, without colouring or chill-filtration and only contains Islay Malt Whiskies, including Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and (even the now closed) Port Ellen to name but a few!

And their tasting notes?

Opens fresh, salty and clean on the nose, developing to sweet malt dried over peat. On the palate, detect ashes, sweet tar, beaches and smoking chimneys. The finish is long and lingering, replicating the palate with salty, tangy liquorice, smoke, bonfire ashes and a phenolic quality.

We sampled from a closed mini bottle in October 2017. While I can’t recall the exact price, think it was around £5 or so… a full bottle will set you back approximately $55. An exceedingly reasonable price for a most enjoyable dram.

And what else did we sample in our merry mini malts evening?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Minis of a peaty persuasion

It has been some time since the collection of minis were attacked! The collection came out with the intent to focus on whiskies of a peatier persuasion…

And what did we select?

What was remarkable was the range of peats we discovered…

After all this, we rewarded ourselves with a Machir Bay – no tasting notes, just pure unadulterated enjoyment!!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Glenfarclas Minis – Glenfarclas 25 year 43%

What a unique opportunity to contrast and compare different expressions from the same distillery side-by-side, taking our time to let 1st impressions settle in, more time to sip and consider, then revisit each to consider their commonalities and differences.

Last in our Glenfarclas minis session was the 25 year.

Glenfarclas 25 year 43%

  • Nose
    • Initial wood, varnish with an almost medicinal quality, organic sweet, green chillies that then sharpened – crisp & clean.
    • As it opened more, it took on a hint of vanilla and talcum powder, tart green granny smith applies, then a hint of calvados or apple brandy.
    • After our 1st sip, we found strawberry cheesecake and biscuits, so sweet, some herbal elements like basil or bay leaf, then an unmistakable tart rhubarb pie… only slightly jarring element was a hint of sulfur
    • After setting aside, with the revisit we found a light acrid smoke, like burning sweet grass, cereals, dry and a bit dusty, yet still retaining that green grass quality
  • Palate
    • The initial sip was light old leather with a chocolate chaser
    • Each sip mellowed more – mocha chocolate, so smooth, getting sweeter and sweeter
    • After setting aside, we found the palate had softened further… like being wrapped in a warm blanket
  • Finish
    • More of that chocolate – like chocolate covered espresso beans with sweet, dark chocolate with a bitter twist too…. all muted, with a light restrained spice

While our initial impressions was of a most interesting and enjoyable dram, it really did need time to open up to reveal its full character. We dubbed it the “2nd date whisky” as you needed to take time to get to know it more to really appreciate what you have.

Here’s what the folks over at Glenfarclas have to say:

  • Colour – Amber with dark gold highlights
  • Nose – Complex, yet refined, with tempting aromas of marmalade, honey, freshly ground coffee, sherry and nuts, some oaky tannins
  • Flavour – Full-bodied and robust, the sherry and the oak fight for your attention yet neither overpowering
  • Finish – Intense, long lasting, dry and malty. A beautiful dark chocolate taste at the back of your mouth to complete the 25 year old.

We sampled this whisky in Oct 2017 from a closed bottle purchased from The Whisky Exchange in London as part of a gift pack for approx $50.

What else did we sample in our Glenfarclas minis session?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Glenfarclas Minis – Glenfarclas 21 year 43%

Next in our Glenfarclas minis session was the 21 year old… We first sampled it as part of a Glenfarclas evening in 2011…. and clearly a revisit was overdue!

Glenfarclas 21 year 43%

  • Nose
    • The initial whiff was varnish… then sour mash, green grapes, vanilla, more subtle warm vapour, light tea.
    • After the 1st sip, strong green tea, organic sweet, some sawdust, wood at the back…. cork even
    • As it continued to open, it revealed light leather, sea breeze
  • Palate – Tea, leather, warm, bitter, very rounded, salty dry with a maritime twist
  • Finish – Nice long leather, slow burn feel, slightly bitter

With the aromas, over time it began to unfurl from a tight nose to reveal multiple dimensions.

We set it aside and revisited after trying all the Glenfarclas miniatures… what then?

  • Nose – Fruits like guava and white fruits like pear, jicama then a sweet perfume shifting into a salty brine
  • Palate – Soft and then sour then bitter, then sweet… overall just an enjoyable soft sweetness
  • Finish – Much more bitter than the original tasting and very dry

Overall we found it very approachable, quite enjoyable. Still had that quite straight forward dimension like the other Glenfarclas, yet with so many more elements.

So what do the folks at Glenfarclas have to say:

  • Colour – Dark amber-gold.
  • Nose – Intense, full of aromas – sherried fruit, tropical fruit, nutmeg and almonds with slight citrus notes at the end.
  • Flavour – Full bodied rich and rounded, develops slowly into fruity and spicy flavours.
  • Finish – Long-lasting and smooth with a chocolate feel at the back of your throat.

We sampled this whisky in Oct 2017 from a closed bottle purchased from The Whisky Exchange in London as part of a gift pack for approx $50.

What all did we sample in our Glenfarclas minis session?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Glenfarclas Minis – Glenfarclas 105 60%

Next in our Glenfarclas minis evening was the cask strength Glenfarclas 105. First sampled as part of a Glenfarclas evening in 2011, a bottle of Glenfarclas 105 hung out in my whisky cabinet for a few years to be trotted out when only a bold no-nonsense dram would do.

Glenfarclas 105 60%

  • Nose
    • Initial impression is of sweet varnish, sherry stamp, stewed figs, dates and all the dried fruits, like a thick fig jam with seeds, some nutmeg and cinnamon, fermented, sour cherries, walnuts
    • Then showed off aam papad,  dried apricot, black cherry
  • Palate
    • Robust, bursting with flavours, spice, red chillies, cinnamon, fresh ground pepper then sweet
  • Finish – Black peppercorn, sweet and spice
  • Water – Wonderful Christmas Cake qualities, sherry notes

While wonderful on its own, with water it really comes into its own. Where one should wait to let the water and whisky combine to be rewarded with wonderful flavour.

After we set it aside and returned we found:

  • Nose – Sweet tobacco, prunes, cream, dry wood and stewed fruits with custard
  • Palate – Lovely sherry, quite dry, full of Christmasy flavours
  • Finish – Retained the lovely pepper sweetness

Overall we enjoyed its robust, straight forward sherry bomb qualities.

What do the folks over at Glenfarclas have to say?

  • Colour – Deep peaty-gold
  • Nose – Complex, oaky, apples & pears and a tempting dark toffee sweetness
  • Flavour – Dry and assertive, develops quickly to reveal a rich spiciness, combined with a hint of oak and sherried fruit.
  • Finish – Amazingly smooth for the strength, wonderful warming with a lingering spiciness, yet very rounded.

We sampled this whisky in Oct 2017 from a closed miniature purchased from The Whisky Exchange in London for approx $11.

What else did we sample in our Glenfarclas minis session?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Glenfarclas Minis – Glenfarclas 15 year 46%

What fun – a quartet of Glenfarclas minis to discover! For us… the logical place to begin was Glenfarclas 15 years…

Glenfarclas 15 year 46%

  • Nose – Fresh waff of polish, lemon, wood, astringent like antiseptic whips, a bit raw, citrus malty sweet, very clean
  • Palate – Soft then malty, wildfire at the back and bitter
  • Finish – Quite dry and stays

After we sampled the full set of Glenfarclas minis – the 105, 21 year and 25 year – we revisited the 15 year. What did we find?

  • Nose – Sour ‘baby puke’, herbal, some subtle lemon
  • Palate – SPICE! Top and back… then coated with sweetness
  • Finish – Remains dry

Nice and straightforward. No surprises and no pretence. What you see is what you get. And there is nothing wrong with that.

And what did the folks over at Glenfarclas have to say?

  • Colour – A rich golden amber.
  • Nose – Complex, sherried, light butterscotch aromas, with a hint of dried fruit.
  • Flavour – Full bodied with a superb balance of sherried sweetness and malty tones. 
  • Finish – Long lasting, gloriously sherried, sweet and distinguished.

We sampled this whisky in Oct 2017 from a closed bottle purchased from The Whisky Exchange in London as part of a gift pack for approx $50.

What all did we sample in our Glenfarclas minis session?

  • 105 60%
  • 21 year 43%
  • 25 year 43%

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: