Gordon + MacPhail – Glendullan 2001/2014 46%

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.

And what did our Whisky Ladies think?

Glendullan (2001/2014) 46%

  • 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:

Without water:

  • 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.

With water:

  • 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!

The ‘affordable’ G&MP trio featured:

This bottle was purchased at The Whisky Exchange for GBP 45 and freshly opened in November 2017 for our Whisky Ladies.

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Mini Malts – Glen Keith 1993 46%

Next up in our miniatures sampling was a duo from Gordon & MacPhail from their Connoisseurs Choice line.

From the Speyside region, Glen Keith was founded in 1959 by the Chivas Brothers near their Strathisla distillery. At the time, their gas fired stills was a novelty. It was mothballed in 1999, sold to Pernod Ricard in 2001 and re-opened in 2013 with completely new wash backs, new still and more.

Primarily used in Chivas blends such as Chivas Regal, Passport and 100 pipers, official bottlings are near impossible to find. And none from the revamped distillery have been officially released.

We tried a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of approximately 17 years.

Glen Keith (1993/2011) 46% (Gordon & MacPhail)

Auchroisk + Glen KeithHere’s what we found:

  • Nose – Quite restrained, organic fruits, subtle yet very malty, yeasty, like wet dough or moist unbaked cake, a bit of pine cone, damp good, humid, with absolutely no hint of spice
  • Palate – Dried orange rind, potpourri, beautiful round spice, like an old fashioned orange with cloves, black peppercorn
  • Finish – Initially sweet then spice then bitter

Overall, there was a muted quality to this whisky. Yet a nice contrast between zero spice on the nose and then a nice round spice on the palate.

It really had the most unbelievable moistness – like a greenhouse in a glass. We even covered the glass and it swirled with moisture.

This was an unpredictable date – flirtatious, changing its mind yet maintaining its coquetish quality.

Here’s what the Gordon & MacPhail folks have to say:

Without water:

  • Aroma -Fresh fruit aromas – apples, bananas and grape must. A sweet floral hint – bubblegum. Some chocolate and vanilla notes also present.
  • Taste – Peppery notes again with floral herbal flavours. Slightly drying with wood elements present.

With water:

  • Aroma – More aromatic with malt and cereal elements. Some more floral aromas remain with a subtle sweetness.
  • Taste – Peppery amd spicy initially followed by a sweet, slightly fruity element. Hints of cedar wood.

More malt miniatures from the Whisky Exchange:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Mini Malts – Auchroisk 1996 46%

Up next up in our miniatures sampling was a duo from Gordon & MacPhail from their Connoisseurs Choice line.

From the prodigious Speyside region, Auchroisk was built in 1974 with high necked stills intended to produce a lighter elegant spirit. Today it is owned by Diageo with some official bottlings released under the label ‘The Singleton’ (until 2001) which confusingly now is used for three different malts in three different regions: Dufftown (Europe), Glendullan (USA) and Glen Ord (Asia).

Primarily used in blends such at J&B, you may find it difficult to track down a bottle. Only a few casks have been acquired by independent bottlers and there are very limited official releases such as a 20 year, 30 year and a few single casks.

I previously sampled an Auchroisk 20 year old from independent bottlers Duthies – a sub-brand of Cadenhead. This experience didn’t enamour me as my impression was “dishwater soap meets dry wood”… however I also speculated my sample had become tainted, so was keen to try again.

This time, I went with a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of approximately 17 years.

Auchroisk (1996/2014) 46% (Gordon & MacPhail)

Auchroisk + Glen KeithHere’s what we found:

  • Nose – Initially quite organic, overripe fruit – especially banana, think sour mash, leaves in the spring damp after a rain,  flowers, then a delightful honeydew melon. After airing, revealed fresh crisp pears
  • Palate – What a contrast! A soft, subtle yet delicious peat, sweet, smooth, beautifully balanced, still quite fruity with a nice coating, like sucking on gumdrops
  • Finish – A lovely long finish, sustaining a gentle sweetness

Absolutely delightful! We quite enjoyed how the nose shifted from over-ripe fruit to crisp fresh pears… the taste brought another dimension but above all it was the finish that invited us to slow down and enjoy.

This is no frivolous dram, instead one for a meaningful relationship.

My sipping companion is now a full convert to the “If it is Gordon & MacPhail… buy it!”

Here’s what the Gordon & MacPhail folks have to say:

Without water:

  • Aroma – Fresh and fruity with ripe plum and kiwi aromas. Toasted malt and subtle herbal notes with hints of old leather and aniseed.
  • Taste – The palate is peppery initially with stewed plums and lemon flavours. A lingering milk chocolate edge develops.

With water:

  • Aroma – Stewed pears, banana and grapefruit aromas. A subtle hazelnut and toasted malt edge lingers.
  • Taste – Sweet with cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. Fruit flavours develop with plum and lychee.

More malt miniatures picked up from The Whisky Exchange:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Caol Ila 1997 43% (Gordon + McPhail Connoisseurs Choice)

After an organic experiment from Bruichladdich and the Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine expression, our Islay tour came to a close with a special Caol Ila from Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice range.

Caol Ila 1997 (Whisky Lady)

Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila 1997 (Whisky Lady)

Caol Ila Sept 1997 (bottled 2009) 43% (Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice)

  • Colour – lovely pale gold
  • Nose – Peat – not in a crazy overwhelming way but very much present with a light touch. A nice smoked kabab, more smoked meats, then a delightful perfume, caramel, charcoal. That insanely yummy distinct indescribable ‘yum’ malty quality with hints of brine.
  • Palate – Initially a lot of caramel, charcoal, a strong decisive character, oily, then dry, bitter, ashy warm, like curling up next to a warm fireplace kinda feel, opens up further and meeeeeellllooow, rich robust, complex and ever so smooth
  • Finish – While doesn’t have that crazy mature OMG finish, still ever so nice, long and oh so good with a little herbal flourish
  • Water – Loved it without and loved it with.. sweater, custard, creamy

Naturally, when we began our sniffing, sipping and savouring, it was completely blind.

Given the theme of the evening, our speculation immediately turned to different Islay distilleries – Laphroig? Lagavulin..? Caol Ila…???! With most favouring Caol Ila

However it was equally clear this was a special expression, eventually most concluded it might be from an independent bottler like Gordon MacPhail.

With the unveiling, there was an exuberant ‘Yeaaaas!!’ feeling rather smug in our guessing prowess – at least on this evening.

Our overall impression was that this is simply gorgeous 12 year old… with comments like “This is my next buy!” and “This is what ALL Caol Ila’s should taste like!” could be heard.

As an added experiment, I pulled out the standard Caol Ila 12 year expression – while clearly the same family, not in the same league.

Here are what the folks over at Gordon & MacPhail have to say:

Caol Ila 1997 (Whisky Lady)

Without water

  • Nose – Hints of sweet cured ham, with a subtle ashy nose. Sweet honey influences, with a delicate malt note.
  • Taste – Some delicate brine, with a rounded sea air influence. A warmth lingers and delicate peat embers develop.

And with water:

  • Nose – Sweet and fresh, a more delicate sweet cured nose, the ash is now more pronounced, with a lingering smoke.
  • Taste – Some cigar ash, with a rounded sweetness. Delicate salt influences and fresh.

So there you have it… another fine evening with a trio of single malts from the Islay region.

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