At the tail end of last year, leading independent whisky bottler Gordon & MacPhail launched its new Speyside Collection. Comprising six bottlings, the range brings together 329 years of whisky knowledge and history, with expressions from as far back as 1948.
Whiskies such as this deserve time and respect, so I managed to keep a hold of them until Christmas and then sat down with friend Steven Kersley – head of spirits creation at LoneWolf Distillery – to savour these six small sips of whisky history.
Both our thoughts on the first three bottles are below. Gordon & MacPhail have included some fun facts about the year that each whisky was distilled, so I’ve included some of those too.
Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood 1972 (43% ABV)
1972 was the year that the first scientific hand-held calculator was introduced; British coal miners begin a national strike; and Bobby Fish defeats Boris Spassky for the world chess title.
The Finest Cut: Very light on the nose. Lots of apples (both green and red) and a slight citrus zing reminds me of a sauvignon blanc. Sweet cinder toffee with a tiny hint of sherry. The palate kicks off with a bit of warmth, with those apples coming through again. White chocolate. A bit of play dough on the finish.
Steven Kersley: Nose – Massive green apples and white wine, orange rind, unripe banana, and tired wood. Palate – Black/pink peppercorns, green apples persist, and old oak giving a little cinnamon/mulled wine spice.
Gordon & MacPhail Longmorn 1967 (43% ABV)
In 1967, the first Super Bowl is played; the first heart transplant is carried out in South Africa; and the first ATM is put into service at Barclays Bank in London. My dad would also kill me if I didn’t include Celtic’s European Cup win!
TFC: Another very light dram. Unripened bananas, sat alongside sweet toffee and warming ginger. The sweetness continues onto the palate, shifting into oaky-ness on the rest of the palate. Vanilla. Baked apples and stewed pears, but I’m missing that ginger that was present on the nose.
SK: Nose – Cut grass, vanilla, green apples (again) with a little dark chocolate; noses like an old dunnage warehouse smells. Palate – oak astringency up front, vanilla partner’s chocolate sweetness but it lacks in complexity and my feeling is that much of the positive wood flavours have left.
Gordon & MacPhail Mortlach 1954 (43% ABV)
Roger Bannister breaks the four-minute mile in 1954; Elvis Presley’s music career begins; and Britain sponsored an expedition to search for the ‘Abominable Snowman’.
TFC: Lighter than I would have expected from a Mortlach. There’s still a warming sweetness and notes of stewed fruit, but very little spice. Again, the palate wasn’t what I was expecting from a Mortlach – much smoother, with a touch of tropical fruits and a nutty, cocoa finish.
SK: Nose – Interesting. Toffee/caramel and coconut milk up front. Ash, ink, dill and stewed fruit. Palate – Slightly one dimensions, little development throughout, remained the same from arrival to finish. Nutt dry wood, stone fruits, and a touch of butterscotch.
Three down and three to go – check back next week for our thoughts on the three remaining bottlings from the Speyside Collection.
You can find out more about Gordon and MacPhail on its website.