Back in the middle of the 20th century, very few distilleries were bottling their own single malts, but visionary G&M director George Urquhart – aka Mr George – continued and expanded his father’s work. He filled spirit from distilleries across Scotland into casks that he had sourced – mostly old-fashioned sherry transport casks – correctly predicting the rise of single malt and the importance of great wood in its development. He then bottled these whiskies, creating some of the first available single malts from distilleries like Glen Grant, Strathisla and Longmorn.
Gordon & MacPhail have continued this tradition and filling and bottling over the years, helping to define the modern independent bottler. However, the simply labelled, unassuming distillery bottlings are often forgotten. Once you look closer and notice their vintages and bottling dates, a range of incredibly old, well-aged and comparably reasonably priced whiskies is revealed. Their lower bottling strength often puts cask-strength fans off, but it doesn’t detract from the incredible quality of the whiskies, revealing extra depths after years in cask and bottle.
We don’t think enough people know about these bottles, and this class aims to change that by showcasing some of the best examples of more recent years, distilled between 1953 and 1972 – the golden years of whisky production.
The Whisky Exchange ambassador Billy Abbott, and Diego Lanza and Jason Vaswani from The Whisky Exchange Old and Rare Spirits team will lead this tasting.
Glen Grant 1953 60 Year Old, Gordon & MacPhail, 40%
Glen Grant 1966 45 Year Old, Gordon & MacPhail, 40%
Glen Grant is one of the best known success stories from Mr George’s time at the helm of Gordon & MacPhail. It rapidly grew to become Italy’s most popular single malt – a position it still holds today – although with a focus on young spirit. However, G&M didn’t bottle all of its casks young, keeping many for decades, giving us an insight into how the distillery’s spirit changes over time.
Strathisla 1963 48 Year Old, Gordon & MacPhail, 43%
Strathisla 1972 40 Year Old, Gordon & MacPhail, 43%
Longmorn 1964 50 Year Old, Gordon & MacPhail, 43%
Without the Gordon & MacPhail distillery-label bottlings of Strathisla and Longmorn, the distillery’s single malts would be almost unknown to whisky fans. Even today, distillery bottlings are relatively scarce, and long-aged examples are non-existent. They’re very different spirits, showcasing different sides of the traditional Speyside character – Strathisla is lighter and fruit-forward, while Longmorn is big and cereal focused, with a famous pink-grapefruit note in many bottlings.
Glenlivet 1955 56 Year Old, Gordon & MacPhail, 43%
Glenlivet is one of the most famous distilleries in the world, but it’s rare to see a truly long-aged whisky from its own warehouses. Gordon & MacPhail’s stocks of old whisky from the distillery are almost as famous in whisky circles, and the combination of old-fashioned sherry casks and old-fashioned spirit shows a very different side to the distillery’s whisky.
Glen Grant 1966 45YO, Gordon & MacPhail, 40%
Strathisla 1963 48YO, Gordon & MacPhail, 43%
Glen Grant 1953 60YO, Gordon & Macphail, 40%
Strathisla 1972 40YO, Gordon & MacPhail, 43%
Glenlivet 1955 56YO, Gordon & MacPhail, 43%
Longmorn 1964 50YO, Gordon & MacPhail, 43%