New Gordon & MacPhail Whisky Bottling Heralds From Obscure Distillery - The Whiskey Wash

New Gordon & MacPhail Whisky Bottling Heralds From Obscure Distillery

By Nino Marchetti / May 8, 2019

Scotch whisky independent bottler G0rdon & MacPhail is one of the best at the game of selling other brands’ whiskies out of Scotland in part because of the quality of their employees. They seem generally to be really capable of finding potential interesting casks that can later be turned into nice releases. Such is the case with one of their latest, drawn from the long shuttered Coleburn distillery in the Speyside region.

The new Gordon & MacPhail 1981 from Coleburn Distillery, according to those behind it, was laid down back on March 11, 1981 in cask 476, a refill sherry hogshead. It was matured in the bottler’s warehouse, resting alongside other maturing spirit from 26 mothballed or closed distilleries. The whisky was bottled at 55.9% ABV on March 14, 2019, making it a roughly 38 year old expression.

Gordon & MacPhail 1981 from Coleburn Distillery

Gordon & MacPhail 1981 from Coleburn Distillery (image via Gordon & MacPhail)

For those unfamiliar with Coleburn, it was founded in 1897 in Longmorn, five miles south of Elgin in Speyside. It was designed by a renowned architect by the name of Charles Doig, and unfortunately was one of many that closed its doors during a challenging period for the whisky industry in the 1980s.

“Our mantra has always been to ‘do right by the whisky’; recognising when it has reached its ultimate peak and then bottling it regardless of commercial pressures or notable birthdays,” said Stephen Rankin, Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige and member of the family with founded his firm, in a prepared statement. “Brought to you as a rare single malt, this 38-year-old release exhibits the true spirit of the Coleburn Distillery. My grandfather, George Urquhart, was always keen to champion the quality of the new-make from previously unheralded distilleries and this remarkable whisky perfectly exemplifies his vision. It’s one to celebrate and savour.”

As it stands now only 101 bottles are being made available globally for purchase as part of Gordon & MacPhail’s “Private Collection” range. It prices at £1,250, or around $1,650 USD. You’ll find some official tasting notes below for your consideration.

Colour: Mahogany.

Aroma: Sherry-soaked fruit aromas with a touch of beeswax polish. Juicy black cherries drizzled with rich caramel leads into fresh coffee with a subtle smokiness.

Taste: Dark chocolate, coffee, and ripe plums. Dried fruits and sherry-soaked cherries, reminiscent of rich fruitcake. Subtle flavours of oak and liquorice emerge with a slight nuttiness.

Finish: Long; rich fruitcake, coffee, and toffee notes evolve into leather with a hint of smoke.