A few days back I received a package from Gordon and Macphail that held an incredible array of samples.. These samples of which there are 6 have a maturation duration of an amazing 329 years and that just staggers belief.. all but one of the samples are from before my birth year and some almost seem like they are from another era all together.. Days of black and white tv.. no computers, no internet and 2 of the samples were laid down just a few short years after millions of people gave their life’s to give people like you and me our freedom.. One of the casks was laid down just a few days after the assassination of Gandhi.. This almost makes how these whiskies taste and smell totally irrelevant, it’s all about history and how we perceive what we are tasting.. If these casks could tell us stories from when they slept we probably would not comprehend the things we were hearing.. The drams that were sent to me are part of a special release from Gordon and Macphail and are all from the Speyside region of Scotland.. They comprise of an incrediable pair from the 1940s which are a 1948 Smiths Glenlivet and a 1949 Glen Grant, as well as these two there are a Strathisla 1953, a Mortlach 1954, a Longmorn 1967 and a Linkwood from 1972.. All the bottles are from sherry casks and are incredibly rare..
First up is the Linkwood 1972.. This was distilled on the 17th November 1972 and was bottled 3rd July 2013 at a whopping 40 years of age, and has an abv of 43%.. There are 277 bottles and the liquid comes from cask 14796 which was a First fill Sherry hogsheads..
Nose.. This carries forward subtle notes of dried fruits, cinnamon, ginger, orange peel, rich chocolate and gentle oak.. A little tropical fruit note is detected along with an earthy undertone and faint almonds..
Palate.. There is a distinct sweetness that costs the mouth so elagantly, soft vanilla mingles with dried fruits and spices.. Soft fruits combine perfectly with dark chocolate and rich coffee.. The oak is gentle for a 40yo and brings in a soft nutty flavour and citrus notes..
Finish.. This is soft and long with a lasting sweetness.
Next up is the Longmorn, distilled on the 31st of October 1967 at an abv of 43% and bottled on the 21st September 2015 at the tender age of 47.. This is from cask #4645 which was a First fill Sherry butt.
Nose.. Very soft and subtle.. Almost floral in the start with delicate dates, raisins and pear, a little hint of peaches and nectarines with soft vanilla aromas and soft spices..
Palate.. Again this is soft and subdued but in a classy way.. The oak shines with some spices and soft fruits. There is a sweetness that develops nicely with rich honey and hints of dark chocolate, toffee apples, cinder toffee and butterscotch.. Hints of marzipan and icing sugar can be detected towards the end along with almonds and liquorice..
Funish.. Medium with soft spices and oak.
This Mortlach hails from 1954 when it was distilled on the 27th January and later bottled on the 20th November 2012 at an incredible 58 years of age.. Bottled at 43% this whisky comes from cask #494 which was a First fill Sherry butt..
Nose.. A lot bolder than the previous two this one is showing it’s age.. An incredible burst of dried fruits with honey, cinnamon and oak.. A lovely old cigar box aroma lingers along with aniseed and mixed nuts.. Soft coffee notes caress while chocolate and orange notes tantilise..
Palate.. After 58 years the oak is quite dominant.. This leads into dark fruits, spices and soft tropical fruits.. Vanilla and burnt sugar bring a delicate sweetness while coffee and liquorice lead you on another path..
Finish.. It’s oak and spices all the way..
Thoughts.. This is a very elegant whisky, it is one that demands some loving and needs to be given time to open up.. There is something about this that screams after dinner dram with good friends and a blazing log fire..
This Strathisla was distilled on the 19th of December 1953 before bottling on the 20th November 2012 and carries just 58 years to its name.. Bottled at 43% this comes from a First fill Sherry butt and is cask #1614.
Nose.. This starts off quite sweet with lots of toffee and maple syrup notes before giving way to dried fruits, ripe banana and plums.. Soft apple and candied orange sit along side of cinnamon, tobacco, liquorice and marzipan.. Delicate oak and soft earthy notes come into play with cherries and Turkish delight.
Palate.. A little more spice at first with those dried fruits soon taking control.. The oak is softer with tobacco notes and lots of vanilla, toffee and caramel giving it a sublime sweetness.
Finish.. Fruity with a dark twist.
Thoughts.. This is getting into the realms of unbelievably mind blowing whisky that is usually reserved for the insanely rich.. The flavours are on another level and really just take you on a journey through the ages..
Glen Grant 1949.
This is bottle is from an age of mythical beasts and sorcery.. laid to cask in 1949 before being woken at the tender age of 64 on the 6th of June 2014 from casks 30 ( first fill Sherry hogshead 6th January 1949 ) cask 2200 ( first fill Sherry butt 3rd June 1949) cask 2764 ( re fill Sherry hogshead, 29th October 1949 ) cask 3182 ( first fill Sherry butt, 24th November 1949) and cask 3185 ( first fill Sherry butt, 24 th November 1949 )
Nose.. O this is different to my expectations.. Very fresh for such an old whisky. Spicy with a tropical twist, lots of soft fruits and orchard scents.. No real sherry hit but it’s there in the background.. honey, citrus and a touch at aniseed.. Very gentle tobacco and coffee beans all wrapped in a gentle wisp of smoke..
Palate.. Incredible.. This is so delicate and fresh.. where’s the oak ? Where’s the sherry ? This is very fruity and smooth (sorry) this is like a fruit basket with some spices, chocolate and nuts all sprinkled over the top.. There is the extremly delicate hint of smoke along with a smooth sweetness that just defines this..
Finish.. soft and elegant.
Thoughts.. This is so extremly different to what I could ever imagine.. So incredibly fresh and soft, very floral with hints of Sherry.. just WOW..
Smith’s Glenlivet 1948.
Another incredible release dating back to the 11th of February 1948.. This was then bottled an incredible 62 years later on the 26th January 2010 from a First fill Sherry butt #545.
Nose.. This is more of what I expected.. Rich dark fruits mingle with oak and earthy notes. This is filled with dates, raisins, figs and plums.. Some vanilla mixes with tobacco and aniseed while cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg give it a spicy edge.. Somewhere hiding behind all this is the softest hint of smoke.
Palate.. Wood spice and fruit.. the perfect mix of both along with dark toffee, caramel and burnt sugar.. Tobacco, coffee and chocolate lead the way for marzipan and boiled sweets ( pear drops and banana and custard )
Finish.. Aged perfection.
Thoughts.. Where do you begin with a line up like this ? I said earlier it’s not about the taste it’s all about the history but I’m not sure that’s entirely true.. All these are just mind blowing drams that on their own would completely outshine. The older expressions just blow your initial thoughts away and make you sit back and just realise what you have in your hands..
I feel really honoured to have had the opportunity to try these drams and will be forever greatfull to Gordon and Macphail for the opportunity they presented to me.. Thank you for the samples.. Words can not express my gratitude!!