London Whisky Show – TBWC Brilliant Blends

After the stunning That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s 10th anniversary 45-year Blended Grain sampled in Paris, I didn’t know what to expect with their other older blends on offer at the London Whisky Show. However, we couldn’t pass up trying both:

  • Cutler & Stubbs 42-year Blend (2022) Batch 1, 44.1% (TBWC) Bottle 28 out of 490, retails for approx £225
  • St. Thomas 32-year Blend (2022) Batch 1, 40.1% (TBWC) 398 bottles, retails for approx £105

Starting 1st with the Cutler & Stubbs 42 year Blend Batch 1, 44.1%, our quick sniff and swish left the following impression:

  • Nose – Caramel, rich, loads of stewed fruits, vanilla and cream
  • Palate – Gorgeous all over, dessert in a glass, balanced
  • Finish – Beautiful and smooth

Though not the same, it reminded me a bit of the Hedges & Butler Royal 21-year we sampled earlier in the year – a blend from the 1970s/early 1980s. It had a classic style, which was mirrored by the artwork – with the TBWC humor – more in keeping with something from 50+ years ago.

We then moved on to St. Thomas 32-year Blend which revealed some interesting elements:

  • Nose – Aniseed, wood chased by caramel cream
  • Palate – Caraway and something else combined with malty pudding
  • Finish – Subtle and soft, melted fudge

This one goes into the category of needing more time to sit back and relax, while it tells its story. I was quite sure while sipping it, that my quick scribbles from our brief tasting reflected only a portion of what this blend brings.

Both whiskies were a cheeky nod to days gone by… when blends were king and single malts secondary. And a strong reminder to pay attention to older blends!

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London Whisky Show – TBWC Part 2 with Millstone, Elsburn + Armorik

Our explorations of That Boutique-y Whisky Co at the London Whisky Show continued… still in a European vein with:

  • The Netherland’s Millstone 25 years (2022) Batch 5 46.5% (TBWC)
  • Germany’s Elsburn 7 years (2022) Batch 3, 48.7% (TBWC)
  • France’s Armorik 8 years (2022) Batch 3, 59.5% (TBWC)

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As part of their special 10th Anniversary celebrations, TBWC turned to the Dutch Millstone distillery with a 25 year dram!

Millstone 25 years (1996/2022) Olorosso Cask, Batch 5, 46.5% Bottle 141 of 380, Approx GBP 300

  • Nose – A dark spicy mulled wine, then shifts into a sherry bomb of figs, dark cherries, and raisins, yet elegant, sweet toffee, coffee cream
  • Palate – Exceptional! Very unique as clearly no Scottish sherry dram. Both sweet caramel and dry, beautifully balanced.
  • Finish – Long and lingering, clearly showing its age, soft prunes

This was a remarkable whisky – such a character, something else entirely!

Alas, I couldn’t find the informative and often entertaining additional information or tasting notes from TBWC.

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We moved from The Netherlands to Germany… again a different distillery than we’ve explored til date! What fun!

Elsburn 7 years (2022) Batch 3, 48.7% RRP GBP 130

  • Nose – Deceptive… initially light sunshine with depth beneath
  • Palate – So crazy sweet! Then just like the nose, some wood and other elements combine with the dessert dram
  • Finish – Lovely

We could definitely see the influence of the dessert wine cask. Just the quick sniff and swish definitely didn’t do justice to this whisky. well worth keeping an eye out to explore further if and when an opportunity arises!

Here’s what the folks at TBWC have to say:

There’s a focus at Elsburn, for using the highest quality casks available, the vast majority of casks are first fill, and only used once.

Our seven year old hails from an ex-Rivesaltes dessert wine cask, and has been bottled at natural cask strength.

The angels take a hefty share of 10%+, thanks to a killer combination of warehouse ventilation regulations, high altitude and warm summers. Whisky regulations are strict in this German region, so much so, that their spirit safe is kept under lock and key. In fact, there are 100+ padlocks in the distillery securing every possible opening.

Up until September 2019 this distillery was known as the Glen Els Distillery, but objections from the SWA forced them to change their name, as Glen could be mistaken for a Scotch Whisky – I really don’t think that was ever their intention, but hey ho…

And their official tasting notes?

  • Nose – Sweet honey and roasted nuts; almonds and pistachio. It reminds me of pink and white, nougat. Dried fruits follow; raisins, prunes, and dried apricot. Stunning!
  • Taste – Rich, and another wonderfully balanced Elsburn. Walnut oil, almond butter, and spicy wood. Leather, cocoa and plenty of dried fruits. Long spicy finish. I love this!

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Armorik 8 year (2022) Batch 3, 59.5% 355 bottles, RRP GBP 75

  • Nose – Salted butter and caramel joined by orchard fruits
  • Palate – Hint of smoke, peppery, yummy, lots of stewed apples, cinnamon apple crisp
  • Finish – Soft and sweet
  • Water – Needs a few drops to open up, a dash brings out the fruits even more!

We had a positive impression of this Armorik – even though it was just a short sniff & swish though the fabulous European whiskies on offer!

Here’s what the folks at TBWC have to say:

We’re heading back to France for another single cask from the Warenghem distillery. This 8 Year Old Armorik has been matured in an ex-Chouchen (mead) cask. Bottled at Natural Cask Strength (NCS) 59.3% abv we’re expecting to get around 355 bottles from this cask.

And their tasting notes:

  • N: Rich caramelised orchard fruits, baking spices; nutmeg, black pepper and a hint of cinnamon, with a charred wood, and a honey sweetness. Complexe et intéressant
  • P: Big and bold! A honeyed sweetness, balanced by rich oak spices. Baked apples charred oak, oiled leather, with hints of ginger. Long spicy finish. Très bien!

So then… where did our whisky wanderings take us next?? A secret Speyside,  away from whisky to a Calvados, and then on to some brilliant blends…

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London Whisky Show – TBWC Part 1 – North-West Euro Express with Fary Lochan, Kyrö + Helsinki

Kicking off our That Boutique-y Whisky Co’s explorations at the London Whisky Show, was a trio from their North-West Euro Express:

  • Denmark’s Fary Lochan 6 Years (2022) Batch 1 60.7% (TBWC)
  • Finland’s Kyro 4 years Rye (2022) Batch 1 53.1% (TBWC)
  • Finland’s Helsinki Distilling 6 years Rye (2022) Batch 2 58.9% (TBWC)

We began our journey in Denmark… which so far in our whisky adventures has featured only Danica and a few offerings from Stauning – their Young Rye, Peated, and Rye with Mezcal Finish.

To my surprise, TBWC’s Danish dram was from neither – instead, a lesser-known distillery called Fary Lochan. As I learned, there are several distinctive dimensions to this Danish distillery. The founder, Jens-Erik Jorgensen, drew inspiration from memories of smoked cheese from his mother used to smoke over fresh nettles. Jens-Erik made his first tests of smoking his whisky-malt with nettles in 2009 and after his passing in 2016, his spouse and three children continue the tradition. Today they have 4 different styles of malts as their core range – representing a different season, augmented by limited editions.

However, what did we think of this 1st Batch with TBWC?

Denmark’s Fary Lochan 6 Years Batch 1 60.7% 473 bottles, RRP £100 

  • Nose – Oh my! Big rich aromas of chocolate, mocha and malt, forest, lightly herbal, cherries or berries
  • Palate – Distinctive, sharp yet flavourful, mellows into honey, fruity yet with substance
  • Finish – Very fruity
  • Water – Amped up the fruit with a nice tangy edge

Overall we found it young yet delicious. Not such a bad start!

What do the folks at TBWC have to say?

When we learnt that the distillery was located in the village of Farre (which was previously known as Fary) we had that far far away fairy tail image in our head, and so our label is based up on an old style fairy tale woodland glade and a small glistening lake.

Our Fary Lochan is not a nettle smoked malt, but has been matured in an ex-Pedro Ximenez Sherry Cask for full term.

With the TBWC tasting notes:

  • N: A soft and fruity nose, with lots of dark chocolate and hazelnut, Dried fruits, raisins and dates, with hints of roasted coffee.
  • P: Rich and luxurious with rich dark chocolate, Black Forest gateau, black cherry, and an underlying woody char.

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We continued our journey to Finland with not one, but two Finish whiskies. Prior to our intro by TBWC, the only Finnish distillery we tasted was Teerenpeli – of which my favourite remains their 10 year! However what was in store for us? We started with Kyrö and moved on to the Helsinki…

Finland’s Kyrö 4 years Rye (2022) ex-charred American Oak/Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, Batch 1 53.1% 350 bottles RRP GBP 60

  • Nose – Very unmistakably rye, punchy yet interesting, nutty
  • Palate – Plasto, different and distinctive, malty and clearly rye on the palate too
  • Finish

It was just a quick sniff & swish, however enough to intrigue. We learned that the folks from Kyrö were also a The Whisky Show, so we knew we simply had to explore further!

What do the folks at TBWC have to say?

It seems like every Finnish whisky distillery starts life in a sauna, and Kyrö was no different! Surprisingly, the idea of starting their own distillery still seemed like a good one the following morning, and from there, the journey of Kyrö began.

This is a 100% whole grain malted rye, that went into a new American oak cask for two years before being re-racked into a first fill bourbon barrel for the remainder of its maturation. It’s banging!

And the TBWC tasting notes:

  • N: Vanilla creams, caramel, chalk dust, dried apricot, rye bread dough earthiness, fresh rain on dry ground; petrichor.
  • P: Sweet, malty, toasted rye bread, earthy honey, red berry fruit notes. Hints of coffee linger in the finish. Spectacular!

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From there we moved on to Helsinki Distillery… Started in 2014, the distillery produces gin, whisky and other spirits.

Helsink 6 year (2022) Batch 2, 58.9% 330 Bottles, RRP GBP 70

  • Nose – Imagine a bakery with fragrant fresh rye bread hot out of the oven, then drizzle a little honey… it then shifted into salty smoked salmon, then back to the bakery with ginger biscuits, then to woods with fresh clean pine, then very sweet chocolate
  • Palate – Softer than expected on the palate, with lots of pine and ginger
  • Finish – Spicey and just keeps going

I didn’t know what exactly to expect, however, this was quite an interesting intro to Helsinki’s whiskies. Whilst matured for 6 years, it had quite a ‘jumpy’ young nose however surprisingly smooth palate.

What do they have to say?

It’s a welcome return for a second batch from Finland’s Helsinki Distilling Co. as I was a big fan of the first release we brought to you in our Rye Series last year. This is a 6 Year Old rye whisky, from 70% malted rye, and 30% malted barley, that has been matured for six years in a new charred American oak cask, char level 3.

Low year round temperatures in Helsinki year round leads to a slower interaction with wood. This presents a preferable situation for maturation in powerful, first fill casks. Hell yeah!

And the TBWC tasting notes:

  • N: Deliciously complex! Aromas of coffee, light honey on toasted rye bread, dark chocolate, and hints of pine needles and linseed oil.
  • P: Hints of liquorice, dried apricots, creamy vanilla caramel, coffee, and cocoa, alongside a charred wood smoke note. Love this!

So then… where did our whisky wanderings take us next?? Why to more TBWC offerings!

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London Whisky Show – Macallan

After some absolutely stellar drams sampled at the Gordon & Macphail area, my companion was keen to move on to Macallan at the London Whisky Show.

For all the talk of the mighty Macallan, I’ve had surprisingly few encounters… only three since starting to share tasting notes of which the most remarkable was a special 50th birthday gift!

Not all in the line-up were available for consumption and after already sniffing, swishing, and mostly spitting our way through 14 whiskies, we decided to only try three. So we put ourselves in the hands of the young lady at The Macallan area.

Macallan 15 year Double Cask 43% 

  • Nose – Sherry yet surprisingly ‘clean’
  • Palate – Soft, juicy, what you would expect
  • Finish – Very berry on the finish, dry

The young lady walking us through the whiskies, shared her rehearsed speech about sherry-seasoned casks and how the 15-year remains part of their core range.

Macallan Rare Cask (2022) 43% 

  • Nose – It had a tightly closed nose, then clear sherry aromas
  • Palate – Sherry however somehow didn’t quite work
  • Finish – OK

To be honest, this was a bit of a disappointment. There was only a hint of the rich smoothness Macallan is known for… At least for us, it was a bit muted.

Our guide shared the intention is to select and bring out each year a new ‘rare cask’.

Macallan Classic Cut (2022) 52.5% 

  • Nose – Shortcake, dessert, berries
  • Palate – Like a muted sherry, with an odd element we didn’t quite catch
  • Finish – Sharp

It had a promising nose and I was particularly interested in this expression which has less sherry and more ex-Bourbon casks than The Macallan typically uses.

However either we were simply not catching the true essence with our wee sniff, swish, and spit, or it wasn’t for us. However in fairness, the extremely rare and unique Imperial 42 year and lost Lowland Inverleven 25 year from Gordon & Macphail were a very tough act to follow!

So then… where did our whisky wanderings take us next?? To another favourite – That Boutique-y Whisky Company!

If you are curious about other Macallan‘s I’ve sampled, check out the following:

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London Whisky Show – TBWC Intro

I absolutely love how That Boutique-y Whisky Co’s approach at the London Whisky Show. was to feature some fabulous non-Scottish whiskies to balance out some Scottish malts and great grains.

The celebratory energy of 10 years was infectious!

Where did we start? Most came from the North-West Euro Express and some goodies for the 10th anniversary. Dave guided us through a rather interesting set of whiskies:

We came back later to try some of their remarkable blends on offer:

It wasn’t all whisky though, we also tried Christian Drouin’s 21 year Calvados and an extra special flask offering:

So once again, Happy Birthday TBWC!! Can’t wait to see how the next decade unfolds for you and the team!!

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London Whisky Show – Cotswolds

Setting the stage for our London Whisky Show was Cotswolds – a perfect start with a newer distillery just a few hours from London… We had previously enjoyed their delightful gin and found our 1st try of their Signature whisky also quite promising.

Don’t expect detailed notes as our approach was to sniff, swish, and spit… gaining impressions and insights from discussions about the whisky rather than an in-depth exploration.

Deb did a marvelous job opening up our Whisky Show experience. Started in 2014, she shared how Cotswold’s founder Dan was driven by his love of both whisky and his new home in the Cotswolds. Using barley from the area, under Jim Swan’s direction, Cotswolds turned to STR (Shaved, Toasted, Re-charred) wine casks to augment the more typical ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks.

Cotswolds Signature Single Malt 46%

Dubbed as a breakfast dram, it was indeed a lovely way to start our whisky adventures.,,,,

  • Nose – Cherry, caramel
  • Palate – Warm and full, creamy with a hint of tannin, giving a ‘nod’ to the wine cask
  • Finish – Lightly bitter

Deb shared this was a good example of Cotswold character and approach – using STR which they describe as:

highly active STR (Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred) ex-red wine barriques. Blended with whisky matured in premium first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels, this single malt has notes of honey, red fruits and a hint of treacle.

And what would it set you back? It is quite reasonable at approx GBP 40.


One way to understand a spirit’s “base” character is to sample the New Make before it touches wood. This is why it was so interesting to try Cotswolds White Pheasant New Make Spirit 63.5%. What did we think?

  • Notes – Tropical then orchard fruits – Williams Pear, honeyed sweetness or like a drizzle of sugar on porridge
  • Palate – Surprisingly creamy and smooth, something quite comforting, more of the pears combined with sweetened porridge

While we didn’t talk price, I later checked online to discover they sell their new make spirit for approx GBP 40 (currently sold out).


We then moved on to a cask strength…

Cotswolds Founder’s Choice 59.1%

  • Nose – Creamy, berries, dark cherries, a hint of cocoa which came across as surprisingly harmonious
  • Palate – Very “forward” with the wood, intense spice that started to mellow the more time it spent in the glass, joined by a bit of marmalade or citrus
  • Finish – Good, solid, and long, with the wood influence continuing
  • Water – Brought balance and even more sweetness – toffee dessert, the sweet skin of a kumquat

Had the clear intensity of a young cask-strength whisky which is exactly why we added some water to see its effect – would certainly recommend doing this!

What do they have to say?

Part of our Cask Expressions Collection, our cask strength Founder’s Choice Single Malt Whisky is aged exclusively in our founder Dan’s favourite casks: STR (Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred) ex-red wine barriques. These highly active casks were created by our mentor and renowned whisky consultant, the late Dr. Jim Swan, and give a rich and intense maturation to our fruity new make spirit, offering strong notes of toffee, chocolate and red fruits, as well as a beautiful, deep colour.

Retails for GBP 70.


From there, we switched gears to explore the sherry side of maturation… also in batches, Deb shared this edition has both Olorosso and PX influences.

Cotswolds Sherry Cask Single Malt 57.4%

  • Nose – Like the Founder’s Choice, it was also quite wood-forward, then joined by Christmas cake, sticky toffee pudding, coffee
  • Palate – Silky smooth, rolling around the liquid coffee cake with dried fruits followed by a nice spice prickle
  • Finish – Intense, strong, and lingers
  • Water – Opens it up nicely, juicy berries, dark grapes?

We found it an interesting evolution from the Founder’s Choice, with the sherry adding an intense flavour-packed dimension.

What do they have to say?

Our Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky is a marriage of carefully selected and blended sherry casks and features in our Cask Expressions Collection. Each yearly batch is unique, drawn from the finest American and Spanish oak hogsheads and butts, some of which have been seasoned with dry Oloroso sherry and others with sweet Pedro Ximénez. All have been sherry-aged through their full maturation for a deeper and more flavourful whisky. Full of dried fruits, chocolate and a touch of spice.

Retails GBP 70


Next up in our tasting experience was an offering from the Harvest series. As Deb explained, this keeps changing to reflect the harvest of the year. This 2022 Harvest uses ex-bourbon, STR red wine, with a touch of peat from peated casks.

Cotswolds Harvest Series (2022) 52.5%

  • Nose – Light berries with a hint of smoke
  • Palate – Peppery, like black peppercorns, quite direct, cream, vanilla, and smoke
  • Finish – Light spice with a touch of peat

It made me think – if there was a smoky vanilla ice cream – this would be it! Something to enjoy in late summer, before slipping into fall.

What more do they have to say?

Our Harvest Series is released once a year and celebrates the beautiful landscape of the Cotswolds through the art of painting and whisky blending. For this single malt release, each presentation tube features an original painting by local artist Josephine Trotter which perfectly illustrates the iconic rolling hills of the Cotswolds that surround our rural distillery.

Retails for GBP 100.


Now that we started to shift into light peat, it was time to focus more fully on this side of their range. As Deb shared, they use ex-Peated casks (Laphroaig) rather than peat the whisky itself, to achieve a gentler approach.

Cotswolds Peated Cask 59.6%

  • Nose – Cream followed by tobacco, medicinal
  • Palate – A battle between peat, sweet, and wood
  • Finish – Very dry and bitter with a smoky close

What do they have to say?

Aged for full-term maturation in ex-peated quarter casks, our Peated Cask Single Malt Whisky is part of our Cask Expressions Collection. A delightful and moreish cask strength single malt with subtle hints of peat smoke on the palate which complement the vanilla notes from the oak and the fruitiness of our single malt spirit. Think ‘smoky vanilla ice cream’, as our distillers like to describe it!

Can I just say, I did a double-take! I swear I’d never read their notes nor did Deb speak of ‘smoky vanilla ice cream‘…. and yet there it was! This just goes to show – this really is the impression left by both this particular Harvest and their Peated expression!

Retails for GBP 70.


We concluded Cotswolds was a rather civilized start to our day of explorations… which went on to sample some 50+ whiskies over the course of the next few hours… wow!

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Remarkable Gordon + Macphail Whisky Ranges

Gordon & Macphail is in a class of their own – with a 125-year history – they are no mere “indie bottler”… With long-term relationships with distilleries, an impressive set-up of their own casks, legendary warehouses with an exceptional range of old and very rare whiskies, this is one area at any whisky show you shouldn’t miss!

So what did we try at the London Whisky Show?

We began with the Discovery range, a newer series launched to introduce accessible, affordable single malts to the world:

  • Green for ex-bourbon casksGlenallachie 14 year 43%This ex-bourbon cask was a nice contrast to the current GlenAllachie sherry or cask finish styles
  • Purple for ex-sherry casksBunnahabhain 11 year 43%A solid expression
  • Grey/off-white for smokey/peaty – Caol Ila 13 year 43% – Skipped as was a bit early for peat!

We then progressed to the Gordon & Macphail’s Distillery Labels with Ardmore with a whiff of sea breeze, soft peat, and sweet!

From there, we got serious with their Connoisseurs Choice range, which has been a consistent series from Gordon & Macphail since 1968. We’ve tried many remarkable drams in this series which showcases various distillery spirits matured in Gordon & Macphail’s own barrels. At Whisky Live 2022, we tried:

We thought this would be the end of our journey…. however then our fabulous Gordon & Macphail’s guide shared a pair from their exceptionally rare Private Collection with:

Wow, wow, wow! What an amazing journey through some fabulous whiskies! And a very clear reminder of why Gordon & Macphail are worthy of slowing down and spending time exploring…

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Lost Lowland – Inverleven 1985 (Gordon + Macphail Private Collection)

One of the best things about a really good Whisky Fair is the opportunity to try something rare and special that you would ordinarily never be able to access or afford – a dream dram. For that reason alone, it is always worth stopping by the Gordon & Macphail section. This year, their offerings at the London Whisky Show were truly exceptional!

After whetting our whistle with the GlenAllachie 14 year & Bunnahabhain 11-year (Discovery range), Ardmore 21-year (Distillery Labels), and progressing into the “extra good stuff” with Old Pulteney 23 year & Tormore 29-year (Connoisseurs Choice), we shifted into rarified realms with a pair from their Private Collection.

This line was created to feature: 

truly exceptional and unique range of greatly aged single malts from a mixture of celebrated, little-known and now closed distilleries across Scotland.

As Stephen Ranking, Director of Prestige puts it:

“When a whisky from our Private Collection leaves it’s spiritual home in Elgin, it’s like saying farewell to a family friend.”

So what about this lost Lowland?

Inverleven 33 year (1985/2018) Refill Bourbon Cask 562 57.4% (G&MP Private Collection) 130 bottles

  • Colour – Burnished gold
  • Nose – Dusty, a touch of solvent, then it slowly started to open with cream, fruity like warmed pineapple
  • Palate – Pure magic! Fruity, then nutty, changing in the most delicious way, like having an indulgent dessert smothered with vanilla custard
  • Finish – Initially thought it was light, then realized it was such a delight with a subtle nuanced sweetness that lingered

Don’t let the 1st whiff put you off! This is an absolutely lovely Lowland and such a treat to try! In a word – wow!

What do the folks at Gordon & MacPhail have to say?

The unique distillation process at this now-silent site produced an aromatic and fruity Lowland dram typified in our Gordon & MacPhail 1985 from Inverleven Distillery. This rare single malt provides a delectable medley of white pepper notes and subtle spicy undertones on the palate, with a long and lingering charred oak finish.

  • Nose – Intense tropical fruit aromas to begin – cooked pineapple, honeydew melon, coconut cream, and little burst of sharp yet sweet lime. A sweet creaminess continues with notes of vanilla ice-cream, sugared red apples, apricot jam, and white chocolate. Hints of overripe cherry and almond marzipan develop into flowering gorse.
  • Palate – Creamy and mouth-coating; warming white pepper notes transform into sweet flambéed banana, madagascan vanilla pod, and salted toffee. subtle spicy undertones remain as toasted malt comes to the fore; a drying cocoa and charred oak edge develops.
  • Finish – A long and lingering charred oak finish with a subtle floral edge.

What more do they share?

A relatively young distillery, Inverleven Distillery was built in 1938, very close to the Lowland and Highland boundary line on the banks of the River Leven in the town of Dumbarton. Established by Hiram Walker and Sons, Inverleven was originally built as a sister site to the Dumbarton grain distillery. Featuring two copper pot stills, Inverleven was thought to be the first distillery to steam-heat both its wash and low wine stills, as opposed to the regular method of the time – direct fire. In 1956, an unusual Lomond Still, which has three perforated plates that can be cooled independently allowing for different styles of whisky to be produced, was added. The stills at Inverleven unfortunately fell silent in 1991 when the distillery closed before the site was demolished in 2002 but under Gordon & MacPhail’s watchful and nurturing eye, the distillery’s legacy lives on.

As for what this would set you back? Well… I knew it was well beyond my budget so didn’t check at the Whisky Show, however, when I later looked online, discovered it seems to now only be available via an auction for around GBP 1,000.

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Unique glass of history – Imperial 1979 (Gordon + Macphail Private Collection)

These days, older whiskies tend to be an exceedingly expensive rarity. This particular whisky featured by Gordon & Macphail at the London Whisky Show was no exception. Retailing at a ‘mere’ GBP 3,000, there were only 61 bottles produced from the cask. Clearly one of those once in a lifetime-type experiences.

Imperial 42 year (1979/16 Dec 2021) Refill American Hogshead Cask 5619 49.2% (G&MP Private Collection)

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Quite Agricole or vegetal and organic at first, then shifted into a tropical fruit basket, it became sweeter and sweeter as it opened… changing character into shortbread, a drizzle of honey
  • Palate – Initially a bit balanced, fruity but fun, hay then nutty, moving all over…
  • Finish – Very dry, peppery with something else

It is indeed incredibly unique – one does not get this kind of curious combination. It comes across as a bit… well… old… almost moldy at first but then it kept evolving in the glass. Becoming more and more interesting. the longer I spent with it…. 

What do the folks at Gordon & MacPhail have to say? Their official tasting notes are:

  • Nose – Sweet honeycomb notes combine with vanilla custard and a subtle hint of beeswax polish. Cocoa powder develops alongside pecans and soft-baked apple.
  • Taste – Ripe red apples intertwine with clove-studded tangerine. Malted biscuit flavours come to the fore accompanied by chocolate-covered hazelnuts and faint Seville orange zest.
  • Finish – A full and long finish with black pepper and light herbal tones.

Whilst I had only a short sniff and swish, however, my scribbles and their notes seem to ‘jibe.’

What more do they have to say about the Imperial distillery?

Founded in 1897 by Thomas MacKenzie, the opening of the rather grandly named ‘Imperial’ distillery coincided with Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, no doubt an influencing factor in its naming! Sadly the distillery closed just one year after opening, with a 20 year gap in production.

It kicked back into life again in 1919… this time for only six years. Stop-start production happened throughout the 20th century until it was purchased in 1989 by Allied Distillers who reopened the distillery in 1991. It was mothballed again in 1998 and demolished in 2013.

On the site now sits the impressive, and brand-spanking new Dalmunach distillery, which was opened in 2015.

Now that is indeed a checkered piece of whisky history!

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London Whisky Show – Gordon + Macphail Connoisseurs Choice

Next up in our Gordon & Macphail tastings at the London Whisky Show were offerings from their Connoisseurs Choice range…

We’ve enjoyed several very special whiskies from this range! Including those we tried in London Oct 2022…

Old Pulteney 23 year (2008/ 28 Apr 2022) Refill Bourbon Barrel Cask No. 17603801 56.6% (G&MP Connoisseurs Choice) Batch 22/101, 243 Bottles

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Joy in a glass! Lovely citrus, honey then coconut, chocolate… shifting into apple sauce
  • Palate – Creamy, full, and luscious. Simply gorgeous
  • Finish – Heavy finish, sweet and lightly spicy
  • Water – Amps up the tropical elements like caramelized bananas

It was endlessly complex… absolutely fabulous! Let’s just say, it was everything I appreciate in Old Pulteney, even more exquisite. 

Our fabulous guide shared a refilled Hogshead, retailing for approx GBP 200. As for the official tasting notes? The label shares the following:

Grapefruit and lemon aromas give way to baked apples and freshly cut grass. Honey and banana flavours are balanced by cracked black pepper. A full finish with mixed nuts.

Would I agree? Absolutely!

Tormore 29 year (1993/ 30 May 2022) 1st fill Sherry Butt Cask 5053 54.5%(G&MP Connoisseurs Choice) Batch 22/109, 554 bottles

  • Colour – Rich dark burgundy
  • Nose – Oh wow! No question this Tormore was matured in an ex-sherry cask. Incredibly intense, rich marmalade, with a berry punch,
  • Palate – A proper, mature sherry, dark fruits, rich chocolate
  • Finish – Candied dried fruit, a dash of cinnamon, heavy, burnt molasses

This is the kind of dram that makes you want to slow down and savour… preferably while lounging on a comfy sofa, curled up with a cosy throw, a good book… and all the time in the world to simply enjoy.

Even after the glass was empty, it left such a beautiful aroma… it was a shame to have such a special whisky in the hustle and bustle of a whisky festival.

What about the official tasting notes? Here is what they have to say:

  • Nose – Stewed RED BERRIES complement VANILLA POD and subtle COCOA POWDER. MEDJOOL DATES give way to DARK TREACLE and notes of soft ANISEED.
  • Taste – BAKED APPLE intertwines with CINNAMON and GINGER SPICE. DARK CHOCOLATE leads to subtle CITRUS FRUIT and CHARRED OAK.
  • Finish – Full with lingering SUMMER BERRIES and soft HERBAL notes.

What did we try next? A pair from the rather remarkable and very rare Private Collection range!!

Curious about some earlier Connoisseurs Choice explorations? Here are a few favourites!

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