The Scottish whisky industry is steeped in history. Not just its distilleries but also its independent bottlers, and none more so than Gordon & MacPhail. The Elgin based company might not be the oldest of the indies, but it arguably has the most storied history in single malt whisky.
The latest Gordon & MacPhail release is a tribute to a key figure in the company history, George Urquhart aka Mr George. He is a member of the second generation of Gordon & MacPhail’s owning family and this would’ve been is centenary year.
Only 235 bottles of the Mr George Centenary Edition — a 62-year-old whisky from Glen Grant, distilled in 1956 — are available worldwide. The whisky was laid down by Mr George himself in a first-fill sherry butt.
The most lasting legacy of George Urquhart is the creation of the Connoisseurs Choice range in 1968, giving little-known distilleries and Scottish single malt whisky a platform that is still going strong over half a century later.
Glen Grant 1956 62 Years Old (51.7%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Mr George Centenary’)
Nose: Intense and one of the more heavily sherried examples that I’ve tasted at this age. Beeswax, Demerara sugar, rancio, burlap and lots of dried red fruits. A few drops of triple sec, notes of roasted coffee beans, as well as a fair amount of praline chocolates. That balance! That complexity! My god, this is heaven… Taste: A syrupy mouthfeel is the first sign of good things to come. Rich and big bodied. Notes of menthol, but also cigar tobacco, leather, and bitter espresso. Rum-soaked raisins, as well as a hint of aceto balsamico. Some soft tannins, which is pretty remarkable at this age, and a whiff of liquorice root. A touch of smoke is in there as well. Finish: Lingering spices and charred oak. A whiff of pepper. Long and memorable.
Seriously world-class whisky worthy of remembering such a vital member of the Gordon & MacPhail clan. In terms of complexity and balance a notch above most other ancient releases from Gordon & MacPhail — or at least above the ones that I’ve been fortunate enough to try.
Available for 5,000 quid, which is a lot of money obviously, although not a sick amount in today’s whisky market — and yes, I do realise I just downplayed the cost of a five grant whisky.