Private Cask Scotch
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BALMENACH 16 Year Gordon and MacPhail
I knew Gordon & MacPhail bottled a Balmenach for the UK market, so I asked the importer to bring it across the pond. Presto, now we have a tasty Balmenach for sale, and what a classic Speysider it is, too. This overlooked distillery lands firmly in the Spey tradition of biggish, fruit-driven malts with a deep, malt-fruit roundness and a chewy, firm, medium-full body. The impressive finish shows the fruit again, accented with vanilla, mint, currant, and a wisp of oak. Very, very nice.—JE
BUNNAHABBAIN 8 Year Gordon & MacPhail
This Bunny is clean and brisk in the finish, a style which belies the mostly ripe and rich off-dry maltiness and vanilla tones that define the nose and palate. Still, that ozone-fresh lift at the end belongs to Islay, belongs to Bunnahabbain. It is no small accomplishment to nail that essential character at just eight year of age and for less than $30. Bravo, Gordon & MacPhail!
BUNNAHABHAIN Peated 9 Year Signatory
Signatory's selection of Bunnahabhain 9 Year Peated Single Malt has a rich nose with notes of vanilla, nut and peat. The palate is fresh with youthful vigor that lends to notes of fudge, toffee and whiffs of delicate smoke. The finish is smokey and long with delicate peat notes.
COMPASS BOX Peat Monster
Compass Box Peat Monster has a wonderfully vegetal nose that is creamy with notes of smoke and peat. The palate is crisp, clean and has dense notes of charred wood and a touch of astringency. The finish is long and whispers peat bog.
COMPASS BOX Spice Tree
Compass Box Spice Tree is an alluring blend of Highland whiskies aged in casks of French oak with varrying degrees of toast that deliver a notes of rich complex flavors of leather, toffee, clove and dried spice. The finish is sublime and lengthy.
DALMORE 17 Year Duncan Taylor
Oh, how nice it is to have some PURE, unfiltered/uncolored Dalmore in the house. The true character of this fine distillery comes soaring through, with a complex of malt-orange-fruit-peat-smoke-butter-nougat-chocolate that tells the truth. Dalmore, when treated right like Duncan Taylor always does, is a terrific distillery long deserving a higher price point in the States than the <$25 it held for years. Independent bottlings of Dalmore are no so common, so don't miss this rare malt.—JE
GLEN GRANT 15 Year Gordon and MacPhail
Gordon and MacPhail's selection of Glen Grant 15 Year has a fresh and bright nose with notes of zest and spice. The palate displays notes of spice, dark stewed fruit and hints of char. The finish is lengthy with a warm spice fade.
GLENLIVET 1995 14 Year Signatory
This cask represents a splendid union of sherry cask with the grand old malt of Speyside: Glenlivet. The palate entry is very supple, with a juicy-apricot background, a nice interplay between dry and sweet. There's more sherry in the nose than the palate with rich, thick waves of buttery sherry oak aroma. First fill sherry butts of Glenlivet do not come along every day. Thank goodness it's unchillfiltered—thank you, Signatory!—JE
GONE >> AULD REEKIE 12 Year Duncan Taylor
Duncan Taylor's Auld Reekie 12 Year has a nose that is full of smoke with notes that lean toward astringent. The palate has balanced notes of soda cracker, smoked fish and dry leaves. The finish has legs to run and a seaside morning fade.
GONE>EDIT GLENISLA 29 Year Signatory
Signatory’s selection of Glenisla 29 Year has a rich fragrant nose that is dominated with honey. The palate has notes of caramel, vanilla and baking spice. The finish is long with a bready finish.
GONE>EDIT MORTLACH 15 Year Gordon and MacPhail
Gordon and MacPhail's selection of Mortlach 15 Year has a rich nose that is abundant with barley and grain aromas. The palate delivers notes of stewed fruit and fruitcake with hints of warm spices. The finish is generour with hints of sherry and a robust caramel fade.
GONE>EDIT MORTLACH 21 Year Gordon and MacPhail
Oh, hell yeah! An awesome new bottling (Oct. 2005) from G&M—Gorgeous & Mortlach! Straight up, the nose gives great fruit in a 3D-style, plus fresh oak, smoke, flowers and more. The mouth starts full, fat and smooth and then at midpalate veers into a hard, clear, surprising peatiness that sustains through the finish--stunning! This wicked 21-year-old strikes a near perfect balance between sherry casks, long aging, and distillery character. Love the peat in this, so old-fashioned. Ah, Mortlach...—JE
HIGHLAND PARK 8 Year Gordon and MacPhail
Well...that is one hell of a nose for thirty bucks: big and blowsy with classic H. Park items of peat and heather. It shows a bit more malt if you splash it with water. Criminy that's a good nose! The mouth likewise is a total winner, big and oily-creamy with pure peaty-rooty detail. One rarely finds HP at this age; who knew it could be so terrific? A bit thanks to G&M for sending this to America, at 86 proof, no less. So tasty. (Side by side against the distillery 12-year-old, this G&M shows quite a bit more Orkney peat, while the official bottling offers more honeyed richness. I would not say the young one is better, but it definitely is different. Highland Park fans should make room for both on their shelf, an easy task at just $29.99.)—JE
LINKWOOD 15 Year Gordon and MacPhail
Gordon and MacPhail's selection of Linkwood 15 Year has a rich nose with notes of oil and oak. The palate is ripe with flavors of vanilla bean, caramel and oak. The finish is deliberate with spice notes and an oaken fade.
LONGMORN 12 Year Gordon and MacPhail
If you want to be a bona fide, card-carrying Scotch connoisseur, you have simply got to be well acquainted with a good Longmorn. And brother lemme tell ya, this here Gordon & MacPhail is good Longmorn. One of the basic building block flavors of Scotch whisky is presented here in textbook, reference standard form. That flavor is barley malt. The quality of maltiness here is exceptionally high, a three-dimensional field of grain, just beautiful stuff, fat and ripe and glistening with grain goodness. Moreover, the malt is forward and juicy but also delicate; it's like the puff pastry of malt. Alongside the John Barleycorn melody is a harmonic of fruit, ranging from cut pear to pineapple—but this fruity bit is always subtle; I would not ever call Longmorn a fruity whisky. In the end, we should all work on a few glasses of Longmorn. Amidst the sturm und drang of peaty-popular South Shore Islay, and the buttery seduction of first-fill sherry cask, an understated, underrated, unknown and unexpurgated malt like this is not only refreshing, it is fulfilling. There's a reason this distillery is never closed, and commands a pretty penny for its goods: it's Longmorn, man.
MACPHAIL'S 50 Year Single Malt
The freshness here is quite astonishing, given the age. The nose begins with fruits (lemon-pear-kiwi) and a just a touch of oak, plus smoke and peat. That peat and smoke will return in the palate, which begins firm and full, turning quite smoky. The peat has real detail and depth, and a citrus-menthol note returns. It's all brisk, zesty, fresh, resembling nothing so much as old Bowmore--yet I never knew G&M to truck with any Bowmore. Great stuff, wonderfully fresh and complex.—JE
NOT ON - COMPASS BOX Asyla
Compass Box Asyla has a vanilla nose with notes of green herbs and lemon, sandalwood spiciness. The palate is sweet with bright notes of mint, woodruff and and midweight mouthfeel. The finish is long with notes of ginger and biscuit.
NOT ON - COMPASS BOX Hedonism
Copmass Box Hedonism has a fresh, light fruity nose that hints at notes of pepper. The palate has soft, delicate notes of spice and ripe cherry with hints of polenta. The finish is fragrant with notes of chocolate and hints of mint.
NOT ON - COMPASS BOX Oak Cross
Compass Box Oak Cross has a light, grassy nose with subtle floral perfume that has hints of spice. The palate is soft with notes of honey and sweet malt that favor citrus notes. The finish is sweet and try with notes of toasted oak.
NOT ON - COMPASS BOX Orangerie
Compass Box Orangerie has a very bright nose with strong notes of orange zest and dried peel. The palate is silkly and dense with notes of orange and baking spice. The finish is sublime and luxurious with notes of gentle whiskey raising.
NOT ON - GLEN SCOTIA CS 12 Year Gordon and MacPhail
Gordon and MacPhail\'s Cask Strength selection of Glen Scotia has a nose that delivers damp earth, peat and smoke. The palate is peaty with notes of malt and stewed fruit. The finish is dusty with a woody fade.
STRATHISLA 35 Year Duncan Taylor
Surely Strathisla does not get at all the credit it deserves as a long-lived whisky. For making old bones, it is right up there with Springbank, Macallan, Longmorn, Balvenie, Bowmore, etc., as this vibrant, fresh, aged yet living bottling so aply shows. Right off, the nose gushes a bloom of fruity-oaky aroma that has much to reveal. Likewise, the palate, with top-class grand cru quality development of the same flavors. This is superb Strathisla.—JE
STRATHISLA 35 Year Gordon and MacPhail
Gordon and MacPhail’s selection of Strathisla 35 Year has an oaky nose with notes of orange. The palate delivers notes of orange, honey and cocoa with nice dark fruit and toffee to round the flavors out. The finish is fleeting but lively with notes of sherry on the fade.
TAMDHU 8 Year Gordon and MacPhail
If this Tamdhu shows a bit young, it's only in the relatively narrow range of flavors; it is not overtly complex. But what flavors! Clean, delicate malt, a hint of fruit, and—what's this? Sherry? Actual sherry casks—and just a hint, always in balance with the malt—at less than thirty bucks? Score! G&M win extra points for bold execution of this recession-era dram. They hit all the right marks (a generous 43% strength, cask selection of first-fill and refill sherry) to craft a very good, but young and thus affordable whisky. Plus, it grows on me.—JE
WILD SCOTSMAN 15 Year
This is a thoughtful vatting, made with care with flavors ranging from Scottish Midlands-like nutty confection tones to much malt, some fruit, and firm yet balanced peat. Flavors throughout are clean, focused, juicy, forawrd. Smooth and medium-full, yet juicy and tangy, a very drinkable whisky. Good job, Jeff—it's always nice to see a local boy make good.—JE
WILD SCOTSMAN Black Label
Jeff Toppings Wild Scotsman Black Label is vatted from four different casks, are selected from four distilling regions around Scotland—Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside and Islay. A mix of ex-Bourbon and ex-sherry casks, the youngest being twelve years and the oldest eighteen, the Black Label is rather smokier than the 15 year. It's a ncie change up from the original Wild man, and a welcome addition to the range.—JE
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