Gordon & MacPhail Speyside Collection – Part 2

Last week, Steven Kersley and I looked at the three “youngest” bottles from the new Gordon & MacPhail Speyside Collection. So, without further delay, here’s our thoughts on the three other bottles which make up the exclusive range.

Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla 1953
Queen Elizabeth II is crowned at her Coronation on 2 June; Watson and Crick discover the double-helix structure of DNA; and Ian Fleming publishes his first James Bond Novel, Casino Royale.

The Finest Cut: I struggled to find the nose on this one to start with. But it does start to reveal itself…and its emulsion paint that appears! There’s a sort of old leathery smell to it was well, but also a freshness from apples and a hint of lemon. The palate has got a good weight to it. Fresh, dry sherry notes mix with apple strudel and burnt brown sugar.

Steven Kersley: Nose – emulsion paint, tobacco/leather, marshmallows, burnt sugar and pastry. Palate – dry sherry, guaiacol, pine, citrus oils and it sits with a good denseness on the palate.

Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 1949
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is established; George Orwell publishes Nineteen Eight Four; and Chairman Mao formally proclaims the Communist People Republic of China.

TFC: Fresh floral notes on the nose give way to salted caramel and vanilla, with a tiny hint of streaky bacon on the finish. There’s a whole load of wood on the palate, with some hints of sea salt and cider vinegar, and an underlying sherry presence.

SK: Nose – Pritstick glue, floral for a second then a malty vinegar aroma appears, salted caramel, touch of mango, green apples, and the old oak is back. Palate – hay, salty, little dry with a grainy maltiness and sherry notes waving at you from another continent.

Gordon & MacPhail Smith’s Glenlivet 1948
London hosts the Summer Olympics; German sports car company, Porsche, is founded; and the first Polaroid camera is sold in the USA.

TFC: This one almost fooled me into thinking it was a bourbon to start, with a lot of banana on the nose. After I got over this, there was plenty of orange peel and something that reminded me of Play Doh. The palate had strawberry laces and the fizz from the sugar that coats them, burnt sugar/treacle and a tiny wisp of smoke.

SK: Nose – orange peel, lanolin, strawberry laces, touch of smoke? (not peat), cherry. AND OLD WOOD! Palate – caramel, lemon sherbet, oak vanilla with orange and dates/raisins making an appearance.

Overall Verdict
The Finest Cut
– There’s no doubting that this was an interesting wander into the whisky history of Speyside. The age of some of these whiskies is unbelievable and its testament to the skills and expertise of the team at Gordon & MacPhail. However, there’s no escaping the fact that the wood has overtaken the flavour profile of these whiskies, especially with the mouthfeel and weight, which was absent in most of them. With this factor in mind, I’d say the Strathtisla was my top dram, due to both its flavours and presence on the palate.

Steven Kersley – You can get a well-aged whisky, but does that mean it has aged well? In short, no. For me these whiskies, as rare as they are, just don’t deliver against the expectation pedestal that their age puts them on. The wood makes the whisky but it feels like the wood has overtaken the flavour profile of many of these drams. In saying that, the Strathisla was my favourite by far.

You can find out more about Gordon and MacPhail on its website.