Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection: Inverleven 1985 & Glenrothes 1974
The amount of stock Gordon & MacPhail has is awe inspiring. Not to knock Cadenhead’s, who are very impressive in their own right, but there’s no other company in the world that has stock dating back to the 1940s. And, if my memory serves me well, of approximately 100 different distilleries to boot.
Gordon & MacPhail often releases incredible old and rare whiskies, so much so, that last weeks new releases are barely a surprise anymore. Just a month after they announced Longmorn 1961 ‘twins’, Gordon & MacPhail now gives us the first releases of their new Private Collection: an Inverleven 1985, as well as a Glenrothes 1974.
The overhaul of the Private Collection—which is a label for individual casks selected by its own directors—is the final step in the redesign of the entire Gordon & MacPhail range. The samples I was sent were only 1 centiliter. This is not me complaining, but rather me forewarning, as it is a rather small amount to base an opinion on. Nevertheless, I tried…
Inverleven is a now closed distillery that was once part of the Dumbarton grain distillery. It’s pot stills however, are still in use at Mark Reynier’s Waterford Distillery in Ireland. The Lomond still has found a new home at Bruichladdich, where it now serves to producer their Botanist gin. Distilled in 1985, this whisky was then filled into a refill bourbon barrel. Only 130 bottles are available worldwide.
Inverleven 1985 33 Years Old (57.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, C#562)
Nose: Starting on whiffs of menthol and mint, accompanied by soft oak, but really needs a few minutes to open up. That’s when the tropical fruits start begging for attention—mango, pineapple and whispers of lime zest. The vanilla custard is also undeniable.
Taste: Fairly creamy mouthfeel with hints of cardboard and white chocolate, as well as a touch of ginger and white pepper, and whiffs of banana and vanilla. Finally a subtle oakiness.
Finish: Lingering vanilla and grassiness.
Glenrothes has often delighted me with excellent sherry matured whisky. This particular release was distilled in 1974, and the filled into a sherry puncheon. Only 276 bottles are released globally.
Glenrothes 1974 44 Years Old (49.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, C#18440)
Nose: Very elegant with notes of juicy plums, milk chocolate praline, and kumquats. The lightest touch of soy, and just a whiff of cappuccino and caffé mocha, before continuing down a slightly more earthy dunnage warehouse path.
Taste: Thick and juicy mouthfeel, with cinnamon and grapes, while the oak tannins are quite powerful. Some will find it a little too much, for me it balances right on the edge. Polished leather, dark chocolate, figs and black pepper are also present.
Finish: Lingering chocolate, as well as red apples.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Inverleven has also seen the inside of that Lomond still. It shares similarities with Littlemill and Inchmurrin, but the palate of this Inverleven lacked a certain fruitiness, which would’ve lifted it to another level.
The Glenrothes was excellent. Especially the nose displayed a beautiful balance and complexity. The palate couldn’t quite keep up, but overall a very rewarding experience.
Samples provided by Gordon & MacPhail
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.