To celebrate its 125th anniversary, the iconic whisky creator and specialty bottler Gordon & MacPhail (G & M) is planning to release four exceptional whiskies. All four whiskies are from either closed distilleries or were produced using Lomond stills that are no longer in production.
Expressions from closed distilleries, euphemistically referred to as “lost distilleries,” are among the most coveted bottlings among Scotch whisky enthusiasts. This is especially true when the distillery has been torn down and there is no possibility that it can restart production.
According to Stephen Rankin, G & M’s Director of Prestige and a fourth-generation member of the Urquhart family that owns and manages the company:
The whiskies we have chosen to commemorate our 125th anniversary are all truly unique and seldom seen in the market.
They are bottled from the last remaining casks we have from these distilleries, and marks an emotional moment for my family as they leave the Gordon & MacPhail warehouse after being left to mature by my grandfather many decades ago.
These single malts represent not only the skills and expertise in whisky maturation built and passed down through generations, but also the passion we have in advocating the discovery of rare whiskies from some of Scotland’s lesser known, but much sought after, distilleries.
Since 1895, Gordon & MacPhail has released single malts from over 100 celebrated, little-known, or closed distilleries.
The first of the releases is a Gordon & MacPhail 1972 from Coleburn Distillery in Speyside.
The Coleburn Distillery was founded in 1897 by the Dundee blending firm of John Robertson & Son. It was sold to the Clynelish Distillery Company in 1916, and was subsequently acquired by the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) in 1930. It underwent several renovations and expansions and produced whisky until it was mothballed in 1985. The distillery was located approximately five miles south of G & M’s Elgin headquarters.
The equipment and the property were subsequently sold off so there is no chance that the distillery can be reactivated. The dunnage warehouses, however, have survived, and since 2014 they have been used to mature stock for Aceo’s Murray McDavid brand.
During its latter years, almost all of the whisky produced at Coleburn went into the various Johnnie Walker blends. Diageo, the last owner, still retains the Coleburn brand. A number of distillery bottlings have been released by Diageo as part of its Rare Malt Edition, as have independent bottlings from G & M, Signatory and Cadenhead’s.
Gordon & MacPhail, 1972 from Coleburn Distillery, 47 YO, 62.4% ABV, Cask # 3511, 365 Bottles released, MSRP $2,000
The whisky was matured in a refill sherry puncheon and bottled at the original cask strength. It’s unusual for a 47 YO whisky to retain such a high ABV. It was distilled on October 6, 1972 and bottled on March 17, 2020. G & M describes the whisky as “sweet, intense, and complex with a sweet aroma and butterscotch notes.”
The color is gold. On the nose, there is a honey sweetness, along with notes of dried apricot, some peach, and baked apple. There is a distinctive herbal note in the background with a hint of mint.
On the palate, the whisky is sweet, with notes of stone fruit and a touch of licorice and a lingering pepperiness. The over proof strength of the whisky is readily apparent. It has a mouth coating quality with a pronounced palate weight and an oily, viscous texture that is typical of cask strength whiskies.
The finish is long and sweet, with notes of stone fruit and a lingering pepperiness.
Fans of Clynelish will find Coleburn a kindred spirit. There are very few casks of Coleburn left, so if you like this style best to grab a bottle while you can. Once it runs out, its gone for good.
The remaining single malts will be released over the next four months.