Tuesday 13 August 2019

Tasted #460 - 462: Gordon & Macphail Summer 2019 Collection: Dallas Dhu 1969, Longmorn 1966, St Magdalene 1982

Those who have been following the blog for a while may have noticed we've been fortunate enough to try some incredible drams from Gordon & MacPhail lately. What started as a grocery business over 120 years ago has become a one of the most respected bottlers, distillers, retailers and wholesalers in the industry, with an enviable collection of casks that has allowed us to try beauties such as a 70 Year Old Glen Grant from 1948, a 50 Year Old Caol Ila64yo Glenlivet, a pair of 1961 Longmorns, a 46yo Benromach and many others.

Despite this ongoing stream of amazing whisky, it's always a nice surprise when another package arrives, such as it was last week when a box arrived containing a sample of these three gems:

Drinking whiskies at the ages of 36, 50 and 53yo is always going to be a special experience, but in this case especially so, as two of the three whiskies (the Dallas Dhu and St. Magdalene) come from closed distilleries - both having closed in 1983.

One thing I love about receiving these samples is cracking into them on the day they arrive (often mid-week). Some people say whiskies like these should be kept for special occasions. I say the special occasion is the fact that you have whiskies like these in front of you!

..and so it was that last Monday, I pulled out my trusty Glencairns (Crystal - these whiskies deserved it) and set to work, starting with the St. Magdalene... 

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection 1982 from St. Magdalene Distillery (53% ABV, 36yo, Cask#2092, Lowlands, Scotland, 161 bottles, £1,000 / $13,000HKD)
Bottled from a refill American hogshead, cask #2092.

Colour: Pale yellow sunset.

Nose: Big and fruity (hello!). Pineapple, rockmelon, baked apple tarts, and a green apple waxiness. After time a sweet, herbal lozenge note emerges.

Palate: Big, sweet candied pineapple chunks, followed by vanilla cream, flambéed banana and Banoffee pie. More pineapple, then some caramel.

Finish: Long but lighter than the palate, with the herbal notes returning, the slightest hint of well-matured tobacco, then a vanilla cream puff. Long, long, long.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. Delightfully graceful.

Next came the dram I was most excited to try - the Dallas Dhu. Ever since trying a Diageo Rare Malts Dallas Dhu in Italy, I've been hooked, always seeking to try as many different bottlings as I can.

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection 1969 from Dallas Dhu Distillery (43.1% ABV, 50yo, Cask#1656, Speyside, Scotland, 176 bottles, £6,950 / $75,000HKD)
Bottled from a refill Sherry hogshead, cask #1656, filled on 10th June 1969.

Colour: Dark rusty copper

Nose: Probably one of the most unique noses I've ever experienced. First up - Vegemite (yeast spread)! Then lots of cola, walnuts, then rich espresso, tobacco and tangerine. A mixed bag, but an enjoyable one.

Palate: Just super elegant sherry - wood polish, cigar humidor, Dakr Fruit'n'Nut chocolate, and Brazil nuts. Then sultanas, and a very slight amaro bitterness. Incredible elegance overall for a 50yo though - no overly dominant notes drowning out the others, and everything in harmony.

Finish: Restrained oak, slight vegetal note. Clean to the very end, with a Vietnamese coffee sweetness emerging at the very end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 94/100. Clean, elegant and hugely complex. Truly a unique and incredible dram. 

Last of all it was time to move onto the oldest of the trio - the 1966 Longmorn, at 53yo.

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection 1966 from Longmorn Distillery (46% ABV, 53yo, Cask#610, Speyside, Scotland, 398 bottles, £6,950 / $74,000HKD)
Bottled from a first-fill Sherry butt, cask #610.

Colour: Close enough to Coca-Cola. Deep brown mahogany.

Nose: Huge sherry notes (sultanas, muscovado sugar, glacé cherries, Christmas cake) but with an underlying herbal, almost spearmint note. After time, freshly cut flowers and sweet marshmallow.

Palate: Rich and creamy, yet subtle. All the trademark notes are there from a well-aged 1st fill sherry butt - coffee beans, sultanas, more Christmas cake, along with cherries, Espresso cream, some tobacco, caramel, rocky road and raspberries. 

Finish: Slight oak tannins behing to emerge, but a residual juiciness remains. Strong espresso notes round things out, with slightly dry oak at the very end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. A lovely sherried whisky made even more impressive by the fact that 53 years in a first-fill butt hasn't overpowered it! For me, not as complex as the other two, but still an impressive whisky.

A big thanks must again go to G&M for the drams, a diverse, unique and utterly delicious trio. The Dallas Dhu and St. Magdalene are likely to suit fans of the distillery (despite the latter being a departure from the often-sherried bottlings we see released), and the Longmorn is just a beautiful example of long-term sherry maturation done right.


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