Red Casks – Linkwood 16 year (1998) Côte Rôtie 45%

From Gordon & MacPhail’s Private Collection, this special wine cask finish expression was released in the US.

We sampled this whisky blind without bias… knowing nothing about it beyond our immediate experience… until our host revealed it!

Linkwood 16 year (14 Dec 1998/Oct 2015) Côte Rôtie 45% (G&MP)

  • Colour – A gorgeous almost unreal ruby red
  • Nose – Starts as a delightful Christmasy rum raisin with varnish… full on fruity, berries, very sweet, plum cake… loads of caramel, vanilla, soaked dried fruits, red apples, cinnamon brown sugar, malt, herbal green tea, burnt syrup, oily, coconut, calvados, a bit of spice from the oak, some rose petals?
  • Palate – Soooooo sweet! Enough character to bring one back, a lovely mouthfeel, some oils on the palate yet still had a lighter body, green apples, delicious with a hint of tannins, sweet berries
  • Finish – The oil continued… ever so slightly bitter … more creamy nutty… gorgeous
  • Water – While not needed, it opened it up to make the whisky even sweeter and more oak forward on the palate

This one was certainly a shift from the 1st… we struggled to reconcile the rich colour with the lighter body, sparking considerable speculation – how could it be such a bright red? Surely it wasn’t natural! To which our host shared the whisky was not chill filtered and completely natural colour. Hmm….

This confirmed our suspicions of a red wine cask however it didn’t quite fit with previous experiences with whiskies matured in port, pinot noir, bordeaux… so then which red wine? How long was it finished for?

And the reveal? Delighted to see we had a treat from Linkwood – a distillery our collective experiences has given rise to an impression of an underrated whisky well worth catching – particularly if seen fit to be bottled by the folks over at Gordon & Macphail.

As for the wood and finish? The notes on the bottle revealed it was aged for 15 years to then be finished for 23 months in the Côte Rôtie – which is considerably longer than most finishes.

We set the whisky aside for some time and revisited – absolutely exquisite! Definitely one to slowly sip and enjoy.

While further details are not available in the Gordon & MacPhail website, there were short tasting notes on the bottle:

Sweet and cream accents with rich summer berries and green apples, which are complemented by a smooth milk chocolate edge.

Last seen in the US online for approx $160.

What did we try in our special “red” casks evening?

Other Linkwood experiences?

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Gordon and Macphail’s Caol Ila 33 year 52.8%

At Whisky Live Singapore 2018, there were a few choice Gordon & MacPhail whiskies available in the VIP section. It provided a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies – particularly aged drams one could ordinarily not afford.

We spotted this when we first perused what was available and knew we must try it. We were fortunate there were still a few drops left!

Caol Ila 33 year (1989/ 3 July 2018) Cask 181062 52.8% 216 bottles

  • Nose – Smoke and fire and yet with beautiful balance, nutty, salted toffee, smoked meats, light herbal sweet grass and tobacco
  • Palate – Buttery, apricot plum, pastry, remarkably well-balanced peat, vanilla
  • Finish – Long and smoky

It is such a treat to try something aged and beautifully peated. While it was only a small snifter, it was more than enough to know we were lucky to have such an opportunity.

And what would this set you back? While the 33 year was not on sale, the 34 year old was retailing for SGD 1,100. Yikes!

Other whiskies sampled at the Gordon & MacPhail booth, Whisky Live 2018:

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Gordon and Macphail’s Mannochmore 18 year 46%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, the Gordon & MacPhail booth is a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies and then possibly select one that might make it home to Mumbai for others to try.

The Mannochmore was very much in the running given our Mumbai tasting group’s haven’t yet sampled a whisky from this distillery.

This whisky is part of their Connoisseurs Choice range and I had only a small “speed date” style sniff and swish to discover a feel for the dram.

Mannochmore 18 year (23 August 1999 / 16 July 2018) 46% Refill Sherry Butt 10686, 670 Bottles

  • Nose – An overt Sherry, loads of raisins, noughat
  • Palate – Oak, dry, sweet spices with a citrus twist
  • Finish – A nice spice, more wood and something else

There was no doubt it was matured in a sherry cask… It certainly was interesting. But was it one to bring back to Mumbai?

I had only a wee nip for a passing impression – enough to know would like to revisit yet also sufficient to prefer to pick up in a less pricey market. At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, it would set you back SGD 299.

What do the folks at Gordon & Macphail have to say about this whisky?

  • Nose – Full and fruity; aromas of stewed raisins soaked in Sherry, reminiscent of light fruitcake. Sweet marzipan notes complemented with creamy chocolate orange undertones. 
  • Taste – Full-bodied and warming; winter spices mingle with indulgent dark chocolate and clove studded orange flavours. Hints of rich plum jam and dark brown sugar lead into candied cherries.
  • Finish – Hints of tobacco and liquorice linger, fading into oak.

Other whiskies sampled at the Gordon & MacPhail booth, Whisky Live 2018:

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Gordon and Macphail’s Glenlivet 14 year 56.5%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, the Gordon & MacPhail booth is a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies.

This time, I sampled both in the main section and in the VIP room which featured whiskies like this one – bottled exclusively for La Maison du Whisky.  

Glenlivet “The Chronicles” 14 year (2003 / 20 June 2018) 56.5%

  • Nose – Greeted with lovely fruits – particularly apples and apricots, honey with a sweet light citrus
  • Palate – Spicy, very fruity and eminently drinkable
  • Finish – A slight spice, cream then sweet, like sucking on a delicious hard candy

Keep in mind this was a mere ‘teaser’ at Whisky Live Singapore so not a proper taste, however I was left with the impression of a lovely, most approachable whisky.

And what do we know? The Glenlivet was matured in refill bourbon barrels and bottled by Gordon & Macphail for La Maison du Whisky as part of their Connoisseurs Choice cask strength line.

And what would this set you back? At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore – SGD 299.

What do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say about this whisky?

Among the favorite single malts of Gordon & MacPhail, the most famous Scottish independent bottler, undeniably figure Glenlivet. What’s more natural when you know that this venerable house is based in Elgin, the capital of Speyside. Very representative, this version invites us to discover a complex aromatic and gustatory palette within which fruits, flowers, spices and aromatic plants intertwine to unveil the landscapes of the region where it was born.

  • Profile: concentrated, the first nose is marked by candied fruits (lemon), peppermint, acacia honey and vanilla.
  • At aeration, it becomes floral (hyacinth) and grass (straw). Powerful, the attack on the palate is extremely fruity (pineapple, pear).
  • The mid-palate is spicy and finely wooded.
  • Affirmed, the finish is marked by notes of royal jelly, lavender honey and violet candy.

Other whiskies sampled at the Gordon & MacPhail booth, Whisky Live 2018:

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Gordon and Macphail’s Inchgower 13 year 55.1%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, I stopped by the Gordon & MacPhail booth with a simple goal – taste a few and decide if one made sense to bring it back home to Mumbai.

Of each, I had only a wee nip – mostly a sniff, swish and move on…

Inchgower 13 year (2005/2018) 55.1%

  • Nose – Coffee beans, toast and toffee, berries
  • Palate – Oak, a bit of spice, fruity jam and then the most fabulous toast, butter and kaya
  • Finish – Had a nice kick, salted nuts, creamy and delicious

Don’t laugh but I couldn’t help but define this whisky in my mind as a particularly yummy kaya toast – crisp perfectly dark golden toast, slathered in butter with that distinctive kaya coconut milk eggs and sugar combined to make an exceedingly tasty jam.

My sampling companion may be Singapore based but it seems this favourite SE Asian breakfast hasn’t made it into his culinary repertoire. Whereas for the young lady serving the whiskies? She immediately got the reference and completely agreed.

That is half the fun of sampling in Asia. Palate parallels are completely apt yet entirely different than what would find in Scotland.

As for this whisky, all through the next masterclass, I kept think of kaya toast whisky with a lovely nutty nougat finish…. so much so that I found myself at the whisky store, perusing the shelves to see if they still had a bottle remaining.

This whisky is part of their Connoisseurs Choice range matured in refill sherry hogshead. As for what it would set you back? At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, that would be SGD 200.

And obviously, you can tell, this is the whisky that has made its way back to Bombay.

What do the folks at Gordon & Macphail have to say about this whisky?

  • Nose – Delicate Sherry aromas accompanied by floral violets and zesty Seville orange. Undertones of toasted malt evolve with subtle hints of butter candies and toffee. 
  • Taste – Honeyed summer berries made into a tangy strawberry and raspberry jam develop into a slightly drying oak. With time, flavours of creamy hazelnuts and silky dark chocolate emerge. 
  • Finish – Long and lingering fruit and nut chocolate.

Other whiskies sampled at the Gordon & MacPhail booth, Whisky Live 2018:

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Gordon and MacPhail’s Miltonduff 10 year 43%

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, the Gordon & MacPhail booth is a great opportunity to sample fine whiskies and then pic the select one that might just make it home to Mumbai.

This colourful case flags that the Miltonduff is part of Gordon & Macphail’s new Discovery range – intended to explore the distinctive styles of sherry, peat and bourbon. In this case – it is a sherry cask.

My first brush with Miltonduff was part of the Ballentine’s 17 year old special box set featuring different component distilleries. This was followed by a Single Cask 21 year old.

So it was a pleasure to have a chance to try a different avatar in a teasing fleeting taste…

Miltonduff 10 year (2018) 43%

  • Nose – A delightful dry sherry
  • Palate – Stewed raisins and fruit cake
  • Finish – A lovely citrus orange finish

I wish I’d had more time and opportunity to enjoy… However that wee nip was enough to know I would welcome an opportunity to try it again in a proper setting…

And what would this set you back? At La Maison du Whisky in Singapore, SGD 150.

What do the folks at Gordon & Macphail have to say about this whisky?

  • Aroma – Chocolate and sticky orange marmalade transforms into juicy plump stewed raisins and sweet baked apple, freshly cut grass notes delicately balance the rich sherry influences.
  • Taste – Sweet and spicy: comforting butter candies weave with roasted hazelnut followed closely by orange zest, cinnamon, and mouth-warming pepper maturing into plum and fig jam. 
  • Finish – Long with highlights of chocolate and stewed fruit finishing with lingering winter spices.

Gordon & MacPhail at Whisky Live 2018

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Whisky Live 2018 – Gordon and Macphail

At Whisky Live 2018 in Singapore, one booth I simply couldn’t miss was Gordon & Macphail – both on the main floor and the VIP room.

While I didn’t sample everything, I did manage to have a “speed date” with a few remarkable drams…

Gordon & MacPhail at Whisky Live 2018

While the Caol Ila was an absolute stunner, it was clearly well beyond my price range!

Of the balance, the one that both was in my price range and sufficiently different to prioritize for bringing its way back from Singapore to Mumbai was the Inchgower.

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