Just last week, Gordon & MacPhail shocked by announcing their move away from independent bottling. And then this week they showcase their remaining, vast stock – a reminder not to worry for now. This year’s Recollection Series features 18 single casks from closed Scottish distilleries, including a Banff 1976, a Glen Mhor 1973, and a Port Ellen 1981, the oldest ever sold by the company.
Gordon & MacPhail’s Recollection Series is a range of rare single malts to “revive and celebrate the character of closed distilleries.” This is only the second batch (you can find reviews from the first at Ruben’s WhiskyNotes), which this year spans 15 distilleries.
Stephen Rankin, Director of Prestige at Gordon & MacPhail, said: “The whiskies released in our Recollection Series are some of the rarest single malts we have in our liquid library – including our oldest ever Port Ellen. This creates a unique opportunity for whisky enthusiasts to experience liquid from distilleries that haven’t operated for decades and are rarely seen in the market today; a true window into Scotland’s complex and colourful whisky history.”
Here is the full list of whiskies from this year’s Recollection Series (including their recommended retail price):
Glen Mhor 1973 – £6,000
Banff 1976 – £4,300
Caperdonich 1979 – £3,500
Dallas Dhu 1979 – £3,500
Glen Albyn 1979 – £3,500
Glenlochy 1979 – £3,500
Imperial 1979 – £4,000
Lochside 1981 – £3,750
Port Ellen 1981 – £10,000
Linlithgow 1982 – £3,000
Glen Esk 1984 – £2,200
Inverleven 1985 – £2,000
Littlemill 1991 – £1,600
Lochside 1991 – £1,600
Rosebank 1991 – £2,000
Pittyvaich 1992 – £1,200
Imperial 1997 – £380
Imperial 1998 – £360
Only the Banff 1976, Port Ellen 1981 and Glen Mhor 1973 will be available worldwide (all reviewed below), while other releases in the series will become available in select international markets. There’s no word yet on which markets.
Banff 1976 46 Years (50.4%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Recollection Series’, C#2887)
Distilled on 26 October 1976
Bottled on 3 February 2023
Matured in a refill sherry butt
Outturn of 109 bottles
Nose: Plenty of pollen and beeswax alongside jammy, tropical fruits. A good amount of preserved oranges, fresh plums, vibrant citrus zest, but also some gooseberries and mangos. Then a hint of fennel seeds, chalk, leather and furniture polish. Maybe even a hint of minerals. Old-style and complex. Taste: Oily and waxy mouthfeel. It has this more industrial, herbacious side to go with the kinds of fruit that come with this level of advanced maturation. Which means massively fruity – oranges, grapefruit, mangos – yet with notes of dried herbs, a pinch of pepper, sage, gingerbread. There are some definite traces of smoke. And chalky mint too. Finish: Long and fruity, but the herbacious side comes out even more. Remnants of cough syrup, earthy roots, but also a lingering creaminess.
Hugely fascinating and impressive, I have to dig very deep to remember a whisky in a similar flavour camp. How I would love to explore more Banff, but I’ll gladly settle for just this one.
Glen Mhor 1973 49 Years (47.2%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Recollection Series’, C#85026801)
Distilled on 30 April 1973
Bottled on 10 January 2023
Matured in a refill sherry hogshead
Outturn of 170 bottles
Nose: Rich with dried fruits, pralines, cigar boxes, old books, and polished leather, the sherry influence is strong in this one. And when I say strong, there’s still a lot of balance here. Plenty of freshness, so to speak. There’s even a touch of rose petals, a few sour cherries, then some gentle herbal notes (slightly minty) alongside some macadamia nuts and almonds. Taste: Creamy mouthfeel and somewhat meaty. There are roasted hazelnuts too, notes of pepper, stroopsoldaatjes, brown sugar and dark chocolate, but also orange zest, stewed apples, and a handful of blueberries. Some menthol too, and maybe even some coffee grounds. Finish: Medium to long. Just a few tannins and some gentle oak spices, alongside dried herbs, mint, and apricots.
I mean, I always try not to compare when tasting flights like these, but it’s hard. The Banff is the more interesting whisky to me, but I can’t bring myself to rate this Glen Mhor lower. Just so good.
Port Ellen 1981 42 Years (52.5%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Recollection Series’, C#290)
Distilled on 28 January 1981
Bottled on 6 February 2023
Matured in a refill sherry butt
Outturn of 181 bottles
Nose: Dark chocolate with charred meat, cigar tobacco, smouldering embers and wet chalk, alongside subtle hints of diesel, plums, cinnamon buns, wet wool and a waxed jacket. Also some notes of honey, beeswax and peaches. But then soft whiffs of red berries, cherry lemonade and Kalamata olives. It’s all so coherent. Taste: Oily mouthfeel. Then sweet, syrupy fruits (tinned peaches) alongside earthy peat, briny oysters and a pinch of white pepper. There’s even some rubber and tar, but also a touch of pink grapefruit, dark cherries and leather. And let’s not forget the hints of smoked peanut skins and menthol. Finish: Long. Soft medicinal peat, coastal, and sweet fruits.
Kind of gobsmacked. I'm lucky to have some experience with Port Ellen, but not at this age, and certainly not with this kind of sherry influence. That's an unbeatable trifecta.