Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Gordon + Macphail’s Convalmore + Highland Park

Gordon & Macphail’s Private Collection features rare, old and even closed distilleries, a “must catch” at any whisky festival and a very good reason to go “VIP” for at least one day at Paris Whisky Live.

Featured in 2022 were a closed distillery – Convalmore – and a familiar friend with Highland Park. I had to start with the Convalmore which was approx 40 years patiently maturing in refill American hogshead.

This was my first experience with Convalmore – which was “Victorian” Speyside distillery that spent most of its life in blends. “Mothballed” in 1985, this particular vintage dram came from some of its final years of operations.

Convalmore (1982/2 Mar 2022) Refill American Hogshead #155 55.5% (Gordon & Macphail) 104 bottles

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Delightfully fruity – pears, apples… dripping in sweet honey, shifting into vanilla cream – delicious
  • Palate – Lovely on the palate, soft… continued the fruity element, a bit waxy
  • Finish – Light spice, sweet with a buttery texture

Beautiful! This was so special. Fruity, waxy, subtle, nuanced and supremely sophisticated. Such a lovely whisky… and such a treat to have a chance to try something so rare and lovely from a closed distillery.

The official Gordon & Macphail tasting notes are remarkably similar to my scribbles from a sniff & swish at Paris Whisky Live:

  • Nose – Rich vanilla pod gives way to fresh green apple and orange zest. Honeysuckle notes develop with quince and toasted walnut.
  • Taste – Sweet and smooth exotic fruit flavours accompany poached pear and floral notes. White chocolate comes to the fore alongside baked apple
  • Finish – A medium-bodied finish with guava and sweet honey.

I couldn’t find this exact bottle for sale, however, a related one from 1982 was listed on WhiskyBase for GBP 1,500, which gives you a feel for just how pricey a sip of whisky history can be.


Next up was another vintage dram – also pushing the high side of 30s from Orkney Island with Highland Park. I must admit that this distillery was an early favourite – my ‘gateway” dram to single malts back in the 1990s – particularly the 18 years old. Since then, they have gone all over the place with different approaches, some very “Viking” branding… which made it all the more refreshing to slip back in time to the “original” spirit of their spirits…

Highland Park 37 year (1984 / 31 Dec 2021) Refill American Hogshead #1816 46.3% (Gordon & Macphail) Bottles 116

  • Colour – Gold
  • Nose – Fruitier than expected, sweet lemon/lime-like mosambi, honey sweet and light, with a dash of salted caramel
  • Palate – Incredibly silky smooth, gorgeous and well balanced, with a hint of citrus fruit coming from behind, light peat gives this a lovely dimension
  • Finish – Gentle and subtle

What fun! This was a lovely dram… In some ways reminded me a bit of the much younger Chorlton 15 year Orkney.

And what about the official Gordon & Maphail tasting notes as a reference? Yup! Would certainly agree…

  • Nose – Fragrant lemon aromas intertwine with honeydew melon and sweet Demerara sugar. Red apple notes develop accompanied by grapefruit zest and walnut.
  • Taste – Citrus fruit flavours give way to guava and subtle cured meats. Dried mango comes to the fore alongside toasted almonds and spicy pepper.
  • Finish – Soft smoke lingers on the finish with green apple, poached pear and spice.

I was curious to see what this experience would set you back… and found a bottle currently available through Whic.de for EUR 1,790.

What an interesting pair… and there we have it!

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