Wolfburn “Morven” 46% contrasted with Wolfburn “Aurora” 46%
An experiment in glass vs glass with Amrut’s Intermediate Sherry 57.1%
Aberlour’s A’bunadh Batch #53 (2015) 60.5%
It may seem like a prodigious amount for one sitting but we were a disciplined lot… some sniffing, swishing and spitting went on plus a swallows and discarding the balance. Sacralige to some but sensible for us.
Longmorn Distillery is found between Glen of Rothes and Elgin. Its name is derived from the Gaelic, Lhanmorgund, which means “place of the holy man”. This is a reference to the church which once stood there. Prior to the distillery being built in 1897, there had also been a grain mill on the site. R.J.S. McDowell considered Longmorn to be one of the top four malt whiskies.
And what did our Whisky Ladies think?
Longmorn (2002/2015) 43%
Nose – Baon! Yippee!! Then overripe fruits, creamy custard, nutmeg and such yummy eggnog, a bit of spice, ginger bread, shifted to sweet spices, peanut brittle… all this before the 1st sip!! Then… wool jacket with smoke, more fruits
Palate – Curious quality, black liquorice, peppercorn, so sweet, soft tobacco which took a long time to develop… smooth
Finish – Musky smoke, comforting wrapping around like a warm blanket with a black liquorice chaser
One remarked how it was like an “elegant man” and a yet also a bit of an old dandy.
I’ll admit I had a moment before we opened the bottle of dread… what if it was a disaster? The last Longmorn we had was less than stellar… and the Longhorn of old was a character – and a most enjoyable one at that.
And the verdict? A complete hit. Sweet but with substance. Just the right element of a hint of smoke, sweetness from the sherry 1st fill hogsheads.
On the bottle, the notes confirmed it is from 1st fill ex-sherry hogsheads and described as:
Delicate Sherry notes with stewed apples, pear and traces of tobacco. The palate has white pepper initially with banana and orange flavours complemented by a creamy milk chocolate chip.
Here’s what the folks over at Gordon & MacPhail have to say on their website:
Aroma – Delicate Sherry influences with vanilla, stewed apple, and cinnamon spice. Hints of dried tobacco and cream soda are complemented by milk chocolate aromas.
Taste – Sweet and creamy initially with mild chilli spice developing. Liquorice, orange zest, and toffee flavours followed by a milk chocolate edge.
Aroma – Delicate Sherry initially with fresh green apple, sweet hay, and banana aromas with hints of toasted pecan nuts.
Taste – Peppery with green apple, grapefruit, and charred oak flavours are complemented by a mouth coating milk chocolate and Brazil nut edge.
Next up was an Aultmore I’d had the pleasure of sampling this back in October 2015. The original purchase request was for the newer version from 2002 (bottled 2016) at only 43%, however I was so happy to see this one make its way to Mumbai that I kept it to myself!
Aultmore Distillery lies several miles north of the town Keith on the eastern fringe of Speyside. The distillery was established and building commenced in 1895 by Edward Alexander. The distillery initially did well and production was doubled in the first few years. However, the Pattison crash (1899) hit Edward hard as he had been a large supplier of bulk whisky to Pattison. Production continued at Aultmore but times were difficult; closing during WWI with the barley shortage, then Edwards sold the distillery to John Dewar & Sons Ltd in 1923. It was rebuilt when temporarily closed from 1968 to 1971, this time under the auspices of United Distillers, a pre-cursor to Diageo. Then in 1998, Diageo sold the Aultmore Distillery to Bacardi, subsidiary of Dewars – yes back to its earlier owners – in a deal worth more than £1 billion!
Known primarily as an element in blends – initially Pattison, then various for Dewars and others, it has only more recently emerged as a single malt. It should be noted that Aultmore whisky is not matured at the distillery site.
We sampled a 2000 vintage Aultmore bottled by Gordon & Macphail as part of their Connoisseurs Choice range. And what did the Whisky Ladies think?
Aultmore (2000/2014) 46%
Nose – Initially very sweet, then spice, baked pear, grassy, wildflowers, fresh meadow, then star anise, fresh mint – almost like paan… After the 1st sip, a lovely lemon peel, so subtle and nuanced
Palate – So much going on… herbal, almost reminiscent of Underberg, though has a thin body, it has such a lovely delicious quality, roast cumin, some darker notes which made it eminently more complex and enjoyable
Finish – Brilliant! Spice to chewy bitter back to spice and soooooooo long, as it evolved took on almost a burn match quality
Water – Initially punches up the spice, makes the palate fruitier, nicely rounded, with a sweet finish with a hint to bitter to make it interesting
For many, this was the most interesting as its character kept shifting as we settled down and let it evolve. Each sip revealing more elements, all in subtle harmony.
On the bottle, the notes confirmed it was matured in refill American Hogshead and refill Sherry Hogsheads. They describe it as:
The whisky has herbal and dried fruits aromas with hints of charred oak. On eat palate there is a delicate fruitiness with spices and a touch of oiled wood.
More detailed tasting notes from Gordon & MacPhail are for the 2000 vintage bottled in 2012 not 2014. Here is what they say about the 12 not 14 year Aultmore:
Nose – The whisky has herbal, dried apricot and raisin aromas with hints of charred oak.
Taste – Delicate fruitiness, with red apple and pear flavours. Festive spices and a touch of oiled wood linger.
Nose – Toasted malt and sweet summer fruit aromas, blueberry and raspberry. A subtle cinnamon edge lingers.
Taste – Peppery and sweet with hints of green apple and plum. Becomes creamy with a smooth milk chocolate edge.
Would we agree?
This bottle was purchased at The Whisky Exchange for GBP 53 and freshly opened in November 2017 for our Whisky Ladies.
1st up in our Gordon & MacPhail trilogy evening was a bright, light delightful dram from Glendullan.
Glendullan Distillery was founded in 1897, and was the last built of the original seven distilleries of Dufftown. Glendullan was rebuilt in the 1960’s and an additional distillery unit was built between 1971-72. Currently owned by Diageo.
Nose – Light, flowery, a spring breeze and then a balmy summer day, sweet lemon curd, beautiful… after the 1st sip, turned to a honey cinnamon spice, apricot, fresh fruit, crisp applies, caramel shift to wild flower honey
Palate – A delightful spice, all rather “grown up” then shifts to candy cane with a light tingle
Finish – Really stays…
I was expecting something light bodied, refreshing, likely best had chilled… and sure enough… it was absolutely delightful. A completely “happy” whisky, nothing harsh yet avoided stepping into the territory of cloying sweet. Instead it was nuanced quality, exceedingly drinkable, just warm, lovely doing a sprightly dance on our palate…
On the bottle, the notes confirmed it is from 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels and describes it as:
The whisky has sweet vanilla notes with hints of kiwi and green apple aromas. The palate is sweet with cracked black pepper, lime and orange flavours. These combine with a lingering creamy chocolate edge.
Here’s what the folks over at Gordon & MacPhail have to say:
Aroma: Sweet vanilla with hints of kiwi, green apple and lime. These are complimented by underlying coconut, white chocolate and rose water aromas.
Taste: Cracked black pepper with lime, ripe banana and orange zest flavours. These combine with a lingering creamy milk chocolate edge.
Aroma – Vanilla pods with hints of cucumber, green banana and lime zest. A subtle freshly cut grass and cedar wood note lingers.
Taste – Ripe banana, pressed apple and melon flavours initially. A delicate trace of vanilla and digestive biscuit develops.
Would we agree? For the most part yes! And for the rest? Who cares… we loved it!
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:
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.
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
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
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.
In 2011, a member of the Glenfarclas family – George S Grant – came to Mumbai to meet with whisky aficionados. Quite a few of us had the privilege of joining an evening at the Four Seasons where we sampled the 12 year, 105, 21 year and the remarkable 40 year!
Fast forward to 2017, fuelled by miniatures shopping at The Whisky Exchange in London, we decided to revisit the Glenfarclas range… this time with the: