Teaninich 2006/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, First Fill Sherry Hogsheads, AD/JFBG)

More than four years ago I wrote a review about another Teaninich from the Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice range. That one was distilled in 1983 and bottled in 2003, so that one was bottled before this one was even distilled! Reading back I see the mindset I was in at the time. The first decade I was interested in Single Malt Whisky, I hardly ever bought something that was reduced with water to “drinking strength”. If I bought anything from an independent bottler, it was most certainly bottled at cask strength. Today I still very much like my whiskies at cask strength, but I don’t have a problem anymore buying something reduced, as long as they didn’t reduce it too much. Old malts, distilled in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s seem to have some power left in them, when bottled at 40% ABV, but more modern malts need a higher a ABV. 43% seemed a bit of a compromise, but the 46% we see today, is doing the trick for me. So, two weeks ago I caught myself red-handed with a bag of no less than four of Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice bottlings! Go figure. As I’m a fan of Teaninich, I hardly could wait opening this one, so finally I didn’t even manage to wait for 24 hours…

Teaninich 2006/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, First Fill Sherry Hogsheads, ADJFBG)Color: Reddish gold.

Nose: Waxy, fruity and with a nice toasted oak aroma as well. Biscuity and a warm smell of lovely barley and cereal. Right now I already want to stop smelling this, and have a sip, but I’ll wait. The toasted aroma becomes more complex since it turns a wee bit into coal and even boasts a slightly tarry note. A breath of fresh air comes next, laced with alcohol. Reminding me of high quality and ultra soft rye Vodka. Hey, give it a break, it’s a very young Whisky. Bread and toasted bread obviously. Grassy and still waxy. Waxy, red blushed, apple skins? Slightly floral notes mixed in with coffee-creamer. Somewhat sweet and a nice note of vanilla. Since these are Sherry hoggies, I’m guessing the hoggies were made from American Oak. This is only a 7 or 8 years old Whisky, so it shouldn’t be too complex, but you don’t hear me complaining. I understand what it is, and I think it is pretty impressive already, at this age. Well balanced and I guess the casks were pretty good as well. They will do just nicely as second fill casks.

Taste: Definitely starts with a Sherry note. First fill casks all right. I guess they bottled this rather quickly, since the Sherry already starts to dominate the Whisky. My guess would be a Sherry matured under flor. Initially sweet (but not for long, because some white pepper comes to the fore). Waxy again and notes of paper and not of wood, although the paper note seems to make way for a more bitter woody note eventually. A tad funky and slightly less balanced than the nose promised. More Sherry (& flor) wood, with even some slight soapy notes. Don’t worry. Even though this is bottled at 46% ABV., it doesn’t even seem that strong. Sure its fruity, but in a more sugared kind of way. Perfumed lemon curd. Hidden behind the waxy and soapy wood. Surprisingly, the finish isn’t very long, giving away its relative youth.

Let me warn you about the new Gordon & MacPhail packaging. I had an open-topped Whisky bag and the experienced salesman, shoved the metal lids into the cartons instead of leaving them on the cartons. I would have lost them otherwise. I tried this at home and he was absolutely right. Just grabbing the carton and the lid already pops off, weakening the structure, with a possibility of dropping the lot on the floor. This is the 21st century isn’t it? Sort it out people. And it’s not only Gordon & MacPhail. Signatory have tins of which the lid comes popping off as well. The folded cardboard stuff some Diageo bottlings come in, can spontaneously unfold under your arm when carrying slightly too much Whisky at a time. That way I saw a bottle of Talisker slowly disappear from under the firm grip of my armpit onto the welcoming tiled floor.

Points: 84

16-3-2017: I just finished this bottle and I have to add that it got gradually better over time. This really needs to breathe to show all of its huge potential, even though its just a reduced young Whisky. A have a soft spot for Teaninich and this one really didn’t dissapoint me again. I Love it. I’ll give it a point more, and maybe I should have given two…

Points: 85

Glenugie 1966 (40%. Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label, 75cl, 4699)

Up next a blast from our collective Whisky past. This is only the second Glenugie on these pages, and rightfully so. It’s closed and it’s today, bottlings like this moved into the realm of collectors (who don’t drink it) and anoraks (who do). So what do we have here? A few years ago an anorak posted an article about what clues can be found on a G&M bottling to date it. We see that this bottle doesn’t have a neck label to date it, so it’s not from the 1991 batch, but earlier. We do know it is an 75cl bottle and on the bottom the glass code 4699 can be found. This particular glass container was used in between 1982 and 1991, which isn’t really helping, but narrows it down a bit. I’ve seen this bottle with different cardboard boxes though, so that isn’t helpful either. The box in the picture isn’t necessarily the box the bottle was sold in. Second we do not know if only one bach was released, looking like this. There may be different batches with different boxes who look exactly the same filled in exactly the same coded bottles. I’m guessing the one I’m about to taste is more form the second half of the eighties than the first half, but that’s only speculation. Let’s try it then shall we?

Glenugie 1966Color: Slightly orange gold.

Nose: Very dusty and old smelling. Funky dry Sherry. Deep grassy, slightly waxy and old soft oak(y). Time capsule. Some faint red berry fruit in the background. Add to that a more creamy, vanilla note and some burnt wood. It’s a mere hint that burnt note though. Adds to the character fo the Whisky. If you let it breathe for a while, more and more of this red fruit comes to the fore, cloaked in the wood and creamy notes. Diluted warm caramel and slightly dusty as well. This is an old gem, and needs to be treated as such. It’s fragile at 40% ABV. Don’t be hasty too. With even some more air, hints of licorice and a floral note emerges. Floral but not soapy. Elegant and distinguished florality. Vegetal (with some wood), floral and fruity, that sums it up.

Taste: The wax, diluted caramel and the wood are up front here. Diluted sweetness. It’s slightly sweet at first, but that is quickly gone. It’s so obvious that I do feel that some caramel colouring has been done. Yep, toffee, hard candy coffee bon-bon. More wood, slightly sappy and bitter. It has some creamy nuttiness to it. Does warm hazel-nut milk make any sense? Disappears rather quickly, hence it has a short finish. The finish is made up of toffee and it’s actually almost the only thing that is noticeable in the aftertaste (as well as a hint of paper…).

Wonderful old malt, that has been diluted too much and might have seen some caramel colouring. You know it’s there, but it lost its battle trying to show it to us, since it has been hindered by too much water. Bummer. I have to report this to the Whisky police and hopefully the culprits will be brought to the Whisky-tribunal. Smells great though, that’s where the potential is still noticeable, or should I say that’s where you can still get a glimpse of what could (should) have been…

Points: 83

St. Magdalene 1981/1999 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, II/BJ)

If you thought both Cragganmores were bottled a long time ago, then you must have a look at this St. Magdalene. This one was bottled one century ago. The 20th century to be precise. Nope its not antique yet since this was only bottled in 1999. Remember Prince? St. Magdalene itself is alas no more. Closed in 1983, it’s buildings now housing people ins stead of casks. An eternal shame led by economics of the eighties. In those days we had a Whisky loch (lots of unsold Whisky), and today almost a shortage. Big disappointment here, since St. Magdalene is my favorite Lowland distillery. Just have a look at my review of the legendary 1979 Rare Malt edition. By the way, bottles of this 1981 Gordon & MacPhail that were sold in Germany had stickers on the back that informed the public about caramel coloring…

St. Magdalene 1981/1999 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, II/BJ)Color: Gold.

Nose: Nice, grassy and citrussy. Quite nice and elegant after all those heavy hitters I reviewed before. Waxy and fruity, again in sugared and dried apricots. Quite grainy too, it’s almost like an old blend from the sixties. Vegetal, less grassy actually but more like fern and almost flowery. Sweetish and waxy apple skins. Marmalade. With some air mare grassy and vegetal. Dry grass and hints of hay, making this an easily recognizable Lowlander. Distant white pepper and some slightly rotting wet wood or bad breath. (not bad here). Not un-complex, and very pleasant to smell. A shame this style is almost disappearing. Do cherish your old Magdalenes and Rosebanks people!

Taste: Sweet (paper) and fruity. Pleasant stuff. Yes, quite light and fragile, but that is helped along by the sweetness. After the sweetness comes wax, paper and cardboard, still quickly overthrown by a delicious fruitiness. Warm apple juice with apricots, Short peak of prickly black pepper. Hidden behind the fruity (not sugary) sweetness a hint of black coal. Highly drinkable. Decent finish with a nice fruity aftertaste.

I thought this would be killed by reduction and caramel coloring, but no. It still has a lot of life in it, just like the ancient Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla 30yo I have on my lectern. That’s also elegant, brittle and light, but still giving a lot. I feel old malts could “take” a lot more than today’s modern Malts.

Points: 87

Dailuaine 14yo 1995/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Hogsheads, AJ/AAFI)

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection UltraUnlike Benrinnes, Dailuaine has been featured a few times already on Master Quill, the last one just a month ago, so it doesn’t need a big introduction, nor does Gordon & MacPhail, the big Scottish independent bottler with an even bigger reputation doing things yet even bigger. We all know Gordon & MacPhail have a lot of series like the Distillery Labels, Connoisseurs Choice, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve and Private Collection, to name but a view. Now there is even a bigger choice with four new, very old, Whiskies in the Private Collection Ultra.

Hey, what’s in a name! I was fortunate enough to have been able to try, three of the four, recently: The 61yo Linkwood (88 Points), the 62yo Glenlivet (89 Points), the 57yo Strathisla (88 Points) and finally there is also a 63yo Mortlach. Well these four are obviously very expensive and extremely rare. For us “normal” people who can’t afford those Ultra’s, here we’ll be reviewing a hopefully very good Dailuaine, one of my favorite amongst the rather unknown distilleries…

Dailuaine 14yo 1995/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Hogsheads, AJ/AAFI)Color: Gold

Nose: Floral and spicy. Dusty and spicy wood. Try to imagine the cask from the outside. Hints of mint. Icing Sugar and even some dried tall grass. Malt and honey. Quite some vanilla. After the Benrinnes I reviewed last here we have another refill Sherry cask that impairs a lot of vanilla to the Whisky. Sometimes it smells a bit like a rum with oranges. More fruit with apple skins. Apple pie, yes also cookie dough and with that the spice wood note. Acidic cinnamon. Very good!

Taste: Sweet. Apples, Apple skin, warm apple sauce. Spicy wood. Extremely nice. Well balanced stuff this is. Nutty wood. Nice hint of sweetness that complements the full aroma. I really like this one. I thought the Benrinnes was good, but this is even a little bit better. Spicy wood. Hints of nutmeg and plain oak. Sugared apple. Caramel. Sweet woody caramel and a tiny hint of bitter wood (sap). Not a very long finish, but very tasty. The finish resembles the body. Well made and very tasty stuff.

There you have it. A young and reduced Dailuaine, which when looking at scores is almost as good as the new Ultra’s. This is a new kid on the block, a teenager, and doesn’t have the experience and sophistication of the old Ultra’s. Although the price difference is staggering, there is something to say for both. (If you have the cash).

Points: 86

Benrinnes 18yo 1993/2011 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Hogsheads, AA/ABJG)

This time I’ll have a look at a bottling from a distillery which “works for me”. I tend to like Benrinnes, so I’m absolutely flabbergasted that this distillery never featured before on these pages!

Benrinnes was founded way back in 1826 by Peter McKenzie, but destroyed within three years. Most distilleries that are destroyed somewhere in their history, are destroyed by fire, but Benrinnes was destroyed by water (flood), but don’t forget about fire just yet. Five years after the flood, a new farm distillery was built a few miles away and was called Lyne of Rutherie. This distillery changed hands a few times eventually David Edward became the owner. He renamed the distillery Benrinnes in 1864. In 1896 the distillery was almost completely wiped away by…yes, a fire. When David passed away, his son Alexander takes over. Alexander also founds Craigellachie (1891), Aultmore (1896) and Dallas Dhu (1898). Alexander also purchased Oban in 1898. Quite a busy decade for Alexander.

Benrinnes 18yo 1993/2011 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Hogsheads, AAABJG)From 1955 through 1956, the distillery is again completely rebuilt, this time because of economics, not disaster. In 1966 the distillery is equipped with six stills, but are not configured in the expected three pairs which a normal double distilling distillery would have. Benrinnes have two groups of three stills which makes for a partial triple distilling configuration (sounds a bit like Springbank doesn’t it?).

Color: Gold

Nose: Full on aroma, flowery and perfumy Sherry. This leaps out of the glass and grabs you by the…nose, in a non-agressive way. Fruity sweet, dusty toffee. Tiny hint of roofing tar. Oxidized Sherry. Fino Sherry probably. Grassy and still floral. Horseradish. A promise of sweetness. There is some wood in here but it comes across as virgin oak, which also gives off some vanilla notes, so it seems to me this is from a Fino Sherry American oak hogshead.

Taste: Again lots of aroma. Sweet hops, Beer. Yes! Creamy sweet toffee and a hint of cardboard. Nutty, which again makes me think of an oxidized Sherry. When this is from refill Fino Hogsheads it picked up a lot of color, without it being reddish from Oloroso and such. Since this is from multiple casks, I’m wondering now if they would mix casks from different types of Sherries for this series, I’ll have to ask). The hoppy beer note stays well into the finish and that may be considered unusual and light, Late in the finish I also get some tangerine, with quite some vanilla. Interesting bottling. By the way, this one needs air and time.

The back label states this has a light body, but I sure beg to differ. Pretty special stuff if you ask me. The profile of this Whisky leaves me with some questions, so I’m not quite done with it yet. With bottlings like this I always wonder how the Whisky was before reduction, especially the finish. Benrinnes suits Gordon & MacPhail, would be a nice Whisky next to Benromach.

Points: 85

Glenlochy 1977/1994 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail , Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label, ID/AHD)

And here is the first Glenlochy on these pages, and only the second Glenlochy I ever tasted. (Amateur!). Glenlochy was founded in 1898 (some say 1897), during the Whisky-boom, but only started distilling in 1901. Glenlochy was closed in 1983 when a lake of Whisky was forming. Many others like Brora, Banff and Saint Magdalene, to name but a few, were closed during that year. In 1992 most of the Distillery was demolished. Now only Ben Nevis survives in the region (Fort William).

Glenlochy 1977/1994 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail , Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label, ID/AHD)Color: Gold.

Nose: Fresh, citrus and wax. Hints of smoked kippers and old stale water. Old damp storage room from the 19th century. Clay, some smoke and alas quickly fading at first, but getting better after some breathing. Some menthol (light) and heavy esters. A little bit of latex paint and the most minute traces of bitterness. From the wood obviously, but also connected to the waxy part.

Taste: Old wood, and some clay. Very fruity and also due to its low ABV, very drinkable. Vanilla and toffee. Wet leaves. Actually this takes me by surprise. After some extensive breathing inside the glass, it gets better and better. Probably a nice candidate to try in a big balloon glass. I quite like it, more than anticipated.

I would have loved it, to be able to taste this undiluted, because it oozes potential quality. The quality is here too, but a bit watered down. Very interesting dram this is, but it also shows why I didn’t buy a lot of Connoisseurs Choice bottlings in the past. I know, I know, there are a lot of stunners in this range, but I feel a lot were done some harm when diluted to 40% ABV. By the way, again this is a Whisky that needs a lot of air to open up. needs a bit of work, to show all of its beauty.

Points: 86

Lochside 1991/2003 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, JC/FG)

I once tasted the 2007 version of a 1991 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Lochside and really wasn’t too happy about that. It was very light as opposed to the Lochsides chosen for the Gordon & MacPhail Reserve range. I don’t know if its only reduction that shows the difference, or maybe better casks are chosen for the Reserve range. I said ‘better’ as opposed to ‘different’ since I know that in both ranges Refill Bourbon Barrels were used. If you want to compare this 2003 Connoisseurs Choice bottling with a Gordon & MacPhail Reserve bottling, Please take a look at Cask #15217 I reviewed earlier. There is a difference of almost 17% in ABV between these two!

Lochside 1991/2003 (43%, G&M, CC, New Map Label, JC/FG)Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Fruity and light, maybe slightly sweet. Hints of distant smoke. Slightly waxy and more yellow fruits. Peach, apricots that sort of fruit. Not banana’s! Slightly malty, but its a young Whisky. Besides this, it also has a powdery and dusty side to it. Hardly any wood and very clean and easy. Still I can’t get rid of the image of diluted sugar in the back of my mind. Clay and a little bit of wood after a few minutes in the glass.

Taste: Well this starts with, …wood and some clay! Something I would have never guessed smelling this. It starts with wood and some character building bitterness. Than a quick brake-down and very short finish. This all happens very quickly. Let’s try again and see what else is in this. Very malty and watered down yellow fruit syrup, again in the apricot part of the garden, but not very sweet. Floral again. Do I detect some smoke in the taste of this Lochside? It isn’t a rounded out Whisky. It has some markers and that’s it really. Unbelievably short finish, with more bitterness than expected.

Your un-complex and summer malt this is. Very light and inoffensive. light, clean and fruity and dare I say, feminine? It the Whisky worlds answer to Lemonade (just without the acidity). The sour part is replaced by some fruity sweetness and a floral perfume. On the palate the wood does its magic. Spicy and a bit bitter.

For me this Whisky really did suffer from reduction. When compared to other 1991 bottled by Gordon & MacPhail (at cask strength), this can’t match up to those. Is it the reduction, or the casks chosen for use in the Connoisseurs Choice range and the Gordon & MacPhail Reserve range?

Points: 80