Paris Whisky Live – Gordon + Macphail Discovery Tomatin, Miltonduff+ Caol Ila

In early 2021, I decided to start acquiring some bottles for future tasting sessions and thought it was past time to pick up a few of Gordon & Macphail’s Discovery range of affordable “entry” drams. I picked a Glenrothes & Miltonduff. They have waited patiently in Germany for the right opportunity – either to taste with others there or bring home to India.

However, naturally, I’ve been rather curious and so was happy to have a chance to try one of them at Paris Whisky Live! On my 2nd day, we whetted our tasting appetite with a few French drams then made our way to the Gordon & Macphail stand and kicked off our explorations with this trio…

As shared with the London Whisky Show, the Discovery line was created for a place to begin your discovery of whisky at a reasonable price point, with colour-coded expressions to help guide the approach… In Paris we tried:

  • Green for ex-bourbon casks – Tomatin (2009/2021) 43% (approx Eur 44)
  • Purple for ex-sherry casks – Miltonduff 10 year 43% (approx Eur 55)
  • Grey/off-white for smokey/peaty – Caol Ila 13 year 43% (approx Eur 55)

We followed the suggested order: ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and then peaty….

Tomatin (2009/2021) 43%

  • Nose – Light and classic ex-bourbon style, fresh green apple, pears, vanilla cream
  • Palate – Keeps on the same light, fruity and happy vein, oaky, more vanilla
  • Finish – Gentle – fruity, floral, honey

A rather nice example of ex-bourbon…. call it a perfect aperitif.

What about the sherry expression? We sampled the Miltonduff 10 year 43%

  • Nose – Fruity, orange, woodsy, citrus
  • Palate – Medium-bodied, tasty buttery caramel, marmalade, cinnamon
  • Finish – More of that yummy marmalade

A nice Speyside and I will very much enjoy revisiting it and discovering more when eventually the Gordon & Macphail Discovery range is opened up at home!

Curious to know more? Check out what Gordon & Macphail have to say here.

As for the peaty, they chose a classic Caol Ila 13 year 43%:

  • Nose – Fab peat, banana, sweet grass, maple bacon, cured sweetmeats
  • Palate – Soft, completely peaty, fruity
  • Finish – Long sweet and smoky

Now, this is a “proper” Caol Ila – what fun! You can also find out more about this expression from Gordon & Macphail’s whisky archive here.

What a nice way to whet our appetite for Gordon & Macphail’s Connoisseurs Choice range – which was our next stop!

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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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London Whisky Show – Gordon + Macphail Discovery

I’m an unabashed Gordon & Macphail fan, so quite early in our explorations at the London Whisky Show, I made a “beeline” to their area! To get the full experience, we started at the beginning…

For the uninitiated, the Discovery line was created for just that – a place to begin your discovery of whisky at a reasonable price point. They colour code their offerings to help guide the approach… On offer was:

  • Green for ex-bourbon casks – Glenallachie 14 year 43% (approx GBP 50)
  • Purple for ex-sherry casks – Bunnahabhain 11 year 43% (approx GBP 46)
  • Grey/off-white for smokey/peaty – Caol Ila 13 year 43%

My starting point was naturally the ex-bourbon expression.

GlenAllachie 14 year 43%

  • Nose – Yum! Initially a bright toffee, cream, and butterscotch… then it was joined by young orchard fruits – like a granny smith apple – some honey then again shifted to vanilla cream
  • Palate – Soft and creamy, like having a delicious cream puff that dissolves, some praline followed by more vanilla and a hint of malt and nuts join the desert approach
  • Finish – Buttery goodness, rewarding with more vanilla with fudge

Having recently had a few newer styled GlenAllachie which tend to have a heavy play with sherry, I could immediately tell this was more “classic” in style. Our tasting guide confirmed this was indeed their approach – hence only ex-bourbon.

For us, this was a delightful ‘day malt” and a lovely way to ease into further whisky explorations. it has a nice ‘clean’ approach and a lovely dram worth repeating in a different environment than sniff, swish, and spit!

What about the sherry expression?

Bunnahabhain 11 year 43%

  • Nose – No doubt there was a sherry stamp! Yet joining it was also vanilla, sweet caramel, and a hint of something like nutmeg, cloves, and a bit more saline or maritime
  • Palate – Quite dry, dark chocolate, cinnamon, dark fruits like figs or plums
  • Finish – Sweet spices, dry fruit

Quite a solid expression. Curious to know more? Check out what Gordon & Macphail have to say here.

I admit that I skipped the Caol Ila as didn’t want to shift into peat so early in the day.

So then… where did our whisky wanderings take us next?? To explore Gordon & Macphail’s Distillery Label series!

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