When a whisky is matured in 1st Fill Sherry Butts, you’d think it will sport dark color and big sherry notes in the whisky, but that’s not always the case because there are different kinds of sherry and different kind of casks.
Take for example this Caol Ila 2005 11 Year old from Gordon & Macphail. A vatting of 4 casks (Casks 301521, 301523, 301524 & 301527) that were all distilled on February 2005, lay asleep for a long time and then married together and bottled Last July. You wouldn’t think it’s a whisky matured in first fill sherry casks.
Caol Ila 2005 11 Year Old (Gordon & Macphail Cask Strength) (57.3%, £47.40/€69.95)
Nose: Classic Caol Ila peat smoke, red apples, lemon, smoke and saltiness, malt cereals, cream, cured meat and after a while some fruity fragrance. It’s a mellow nose and not a very complex one but it has structure and backbone. With a few drops of water it’s fruitier with more honey, a touch of pineapple, extra vanilla and pears, richer and stronger. Continue reading
Today’s dram is another fine example from Gordon & Macphail “The Wood Makes the Whisky” campaign. It’s a 16 or 17 years old BenRiach, distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2014 and it was matured in refill Sherry hogshead casks.
BenRiach 1997 Connoisseurs Choice (46%, Bottled 2014, £58.50)
Nose: Elegant and light sherry notes at first: sweet dried fruit with some fresh berries thrown in for a good measure accompanied by cinnamon. Then honey, cereals, pears and white fruit, soft and creamy vanilla with crushed nuts, quite a rich nose and after a while the lovely sherry notes comes back for good. Continue reading
I’m very fond of Craigellachie distillery due to the seemingly irrelevant fact that I slept at a B&B in the Craigellachie village on my first Scotland pilgrimage. Since then I tasted a few Craigellachie bottles, indie and official and it’s time to review another one, a 1997 vintage from the Connoisseurs Choice lineup of Gordon & Macphail.
It was bottled in 2014 (making it about 17 year old) and it was aged in refill ex-bourbon casks, unlike the 1997 vintage that was bottled in 2013 that was aged in first fill sherry casks. I do know that Craigellachie works well with sherry but how about bourbon?
Craigellachie 1997 Connoisseurs Choice (46%, Bottled 2014, £64.45/€88,90)
Nose: Fruity with apples, red apples peels, a touch of peaches, it very much reminds me some of official Craigellachie lineup traits with those apples, roasted/burnt matches and the oily and smooth feeling. bakery full of fruit cakes, some nuttiness, cream, ginger and spices. Continue reading
There are some distilleries you play love/hate games with and in my case one of them would be Dalmore. I usually just can’t stand the caramel and the chill filtration they do with their official line up, hence the sparseness of Dalmore reviews here. Of course when you go to special aged editions the situation is a tad bitter (like the 1981 Amaroso I reviewed) but the global picture is pretty gloom.
That’s why I was happy to receive a sample of an indie Dalmore from Gordon & Macphail. There aren’t too many of those in the market, and I instantly grabbed the chance to try this Dalmore 2001 – it’s au natural without additions or damaging filtering!
Dalmore 2001 Connoisseurs Choice (46%, Bottled 2015, £32.08/€54,90)
Nose: It’s a very fruity nose with a lot of pears and pineapple notes. Also some creamy malt, liqorice, bitter grapefruit and gentle oak wood spices. After it sat down in the glass for a few minutes there were red apples, lemon, herbal eucalyptus and light spearmint perfume. Continue reading
The Glenlivet Rare Vintage series is one I’ve been keen to taste for years as they had so many old (and expensive) vintages in this series, with even some whiskies from the turn of the 20th century!
And finally I get to taste a vintage from the series, courtesy of G&M and their “The Wood Makes the Whisky” campaign. This time it’s a Glenlivet 1974 vintage which is a vatting of whisky from refill American & refill Sherry casks.
Rare Vintage Smith’s Glenlivet 1974 (43%)
Nose: Relaxed, fresh, dried fruit with sultanas and figs, some eucalyptus, nutty, furniture varnish, getting fragrance & fruit sweetness, sherried by balanced by the american oak, in fact it mat be suggestive but there’s some vanilla note below the surface. What a lovely nose! Continue reading
One more young whisky from G&M in the “The Wood Makes the Whisky” campaign, but this time it’s a whisky from a powerhouse distillery that all but ditched the age statements from their main OB expressions: Macallan.
Luckily, we have independent bottlers to enjoy age labeled Macallans but even those are pretty rare and hard to find, that is, unless you’re Gordon & Macphail. I bet there’s some prior contract that supplies G&M with fresh casks from Macallan and so we can enjoy the Speymat range, from the expensive old to the young and affordable vintages.
As befitting the tone of the last few reviews, It’s a younger in that range that we check today, the Macallan Speymalt 2006 that was bottled in 2015 (17/11/2015 to be precise), making it approximately 9 year old. It was aged in various sherry casks, both 1st fill and refill casks which should give it a nice sherried touch, which is what Macallan built their brand upon.
Macallan Speymalt 2006 (43%, £32.95/€43.75)
Nose: At first sniff it feels even younger than 8 yo Glenrothes from the last review. There is a big malt and cereals mix and some beeswax. The sherry casks are felt at first with light dried fruits coupled with sweet and fresh red berries but then the impact slowly turns into a fruitier impact with some apricots and lemon peels along with the red and dried fruits, Continue reading
While we’re on a roll from last week, let’s check another young and low ABV whisky. Today it’s a 8 year old Glenrothes from Gordon and Macphail, another entree in the “The Wood Makes the Whisky” campaign, that was matured for 8 years in a combo of refill Sherry hogsheads and refill bourbon barrels before bottling back in 2011.
Macphail’s Collection Glenrothes 8 Year Old (43%, £31.95)
Nose: Malty and creamy coconut, vanilla with a touch of honey, oak wood spices, develops some green apples at the background with a surprising briney note and then slowly some weak sherry impact shows up: chocolate, nutmeg and cinnamon. A very gentle nose.
Palate: Spicy and sweet, oak wood spices, a little salt, vanilla, floral/herbal edge, some sweet lemon, chocolate and then walnuts in the background.
Finish: Lingering spiciness and walnuts, soursweet lemon and grapefruits, milk chocolate, short length
Thoughts: Relatively young and not an overly complex whisky (as it usually goes together), but it’s an easy to drink whisky with all those gentle and subtle notes.
Today we have a review of the last of the four samples that spearheaded “The Wood Makes the Whisky” Campaign from Gordon & MacPhail. It’s a Glen Grant that was distilled way back in 1954 and was bottled in 2006 for a whopping 52 years in the cask.
While G&M did release recently a 65 year old Glen Grant (for Wealth Solutions), even this ‘young’ whisky can teach us a lot on cask selection. Think about it: 52 years in the cask. You can’t pick up just any cask if you want the whisky to age well for such long time period without going over-wood and G&M has repeatedly show they can do over and over and over again. This time, refill sherry casks were used and I guess those casks weren’t too active.
Glen Grant 1954 (40%, bottled 2006, £1,049/£1,167.66)
Nose: Glorious old sherry, sour and sweet, where to start? Lots of berries here, strawberries and raspberries, dates, figs, sultanas, cherries chocolate and plain milk chocolate, cooked nutmeg and a dash of bitter herbals and oak spices. Very rich and very fresh despite the old age. Continue reading
After two peated whiskies that were matured in sherry casks, the third whisky from Gordon and Macphail “The Wood Makes the Whisky” campaign is a straightforward ex-bourbon matured whisky from Speyburn distillery.
We’re not used to see many Speyburn indie bottlings out there. In fact, there aren’t many official bottlings, but G&M have longtime relationships and connections with various distilleries and whisky producers and so they stocked a few casks from Speyburn, released under the “Connoisseurs Choice” brand. The latest one, which was part of the package is a 1989 vintage that was bottled in 2013 so it’s a 23-24 year old.
Connoisseurs Choice Speyburn 1989 (46%, £75.95/€97.99)
Nose: Bread dough, cereals, sourdough, grapefruits, honey, white pepper, gentle wet wood note. After 2-3 minutes it’s sweeter with added honey and then some traces of vanilla, gentle flowery and spearmint notes, not perfumed but hints at it and still lots of grapefruits Continue reading
The next sample from Gordon & Macphail ‘The wood makes the whisky’ is Ardmore 1996. The sample didn’t have bottling date so we do not know the exact age, but if we go by the assumption it’s the latest release, then it was most likely bottled in 2013 so the age statement is 16yo, just double the age of the Bunna I reviewed on Thursday.
The companion book of the campaign
The Ardmore was matured in Sherry Refill Hogsheads while the Bunnahabhain was matured in Refill Sherry Butts, so we have much more wood contact with the spirit and it spent double the time period so we should expect substantial increase in the sherry influence.
G&M Ardmore 1996 (43%, £53.99/€77.90)
Nose: Sweet and rich sherry impact: dried berries, stewed fruit and prunes and it’s bordering fruit compote. The peat is very subdued with delicate tingling smoke in the background. After a few minutes in the glass, the sherry impact is getting lighter while the smokiness stays at a steady level and we get to sniff some grilled red apples and even some spicy menthol. further on it gets some perfume edge and citrus. Continue reading