We love Gordon & MacPhail around here. One of the biggest and most reliable independent Scotch whisky producers, its selection is insightful and its releases are utterly vast, with perhaps more than 100 bottlings on the market at any given time. Keeping up with G&M would be impossible even if it wasn’t incredibly expensive, but we were lucky to get our hands on two new releases from the exquisite “Private Collection” series. Thoughts follow.
Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood Cote Rotie Wood Finish 1991 – This 20 year old Speyside whisky spends 30 long months in ex-Cote Rotie wine barrels. I’ve had mixed luck with Rhone Valley wine barrel finishes, but this one hits on all cylinders. Rich and smooth, velvety almost, it starts with honey, vanilla, and nougat notes, then brings on lots of eastern spices — cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne pepper. Citrus oil fades in and out, along with some malty grain notes at the end. Complex but beautifully balanced and a bargain for a 20 year old malt. 90 proof. 1900 bottles made. A / $80
Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Hermitage Finish 1997 – Take a 14-year old smoky Islay and finish it in Hermitage wine barrels for 30 months and what do you get? Well, it’s interesting but a little muddy: Heavy peat on the nose, and plenty more on the tongue. The Hermitage tries to cut through this, particularly in the finish, but what manages to get across is little more than some relatively undefined orange peel sweetness. The color — a deep amber — hints at a lot of fruit. I do think it’s in there. Somewhere. 90 proof. 800 bottles made. B+ / $80