At the Gordon and MacPhail tasting at the London Whisky Show I thought the two best whiskies were the first and the last ones we tasted. The 1953 Linkwood was the best of the four in my opinion, and will be reviewed tomorrow, and the 1951 Strathisla was the most interesting of the bunch.
Strathisla and G&M have a history, as Gordon and MacPhail not only were the “semi-official” bottler for the distillery, which is the signature malt for Chivas Regal, but have also bid to buy the distillery way back in 1950 after its former owner, Jay Pomroy, was jailed for tax evasion and the court mandated an auction. They lost the bid to….you guessed it….Chivas Brothers!!! It would be another 43 years before Gordon & MacPhail got their own distillery, buying Benromach in 1993.
This cask was selected by Michael Urquhart and his daughter Laura, who is the newest member of the G&M management team. She told me after the masterclass that she has just now completed her 18 month training program with the company and is now starting to fill a “real” position – Brand Manager. It was Michael’s retirement that actually spurred the creation of this series, as he’s the youngest of the third generation Urquharts and the last to retire. Michael also led the masterclass, presenting G&M’s illustrious history.
What sets G&M apart from all other independent bottlers is the fact that they source about 95% their own casks, and fill the new make they buy into their own barrels. The company has close to 35,000 casks in wharehouses and bottles about 1000 of them each year.
1957 Strathisla, G&M Private Collection Ultra, Sherry Hogshead #1736, 61 Bottles in Total (51.6% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: This is the darkest of the four bottles, with a deep mahogany tone. The legs are slow and leave a ring of beads on top.
Nose: Polished wood, freshly minced white horseradish, cinnamon, fresh fruit, dusty leather and that old sherry notes similar to old books.
This was the most interesting of the drams. It had that horseradish note I never had in any other whisky. The color is much darker than any of the other bottles, despite being the youngest of the quartet at “only” 57 years, really making it stand out.
This is also the oldest Strathisla ever to be bottled.