Monday, 21 October 2019

Gordon & MacPhail’s "Mr George Centenary Edition" 1956 Glen Grant 62yo [Tasted #469]

Continuing with 2019's theme of "trying incredibly rare and old releases from Gordon & MacPhail", a sample of G&M's latest "Mr George Centenary Edition" 62yo Glen Grant arrived recently, distilled way back in 1956 and matured in a single first fill sherry butt for 62 long years.

The whisky was bottled to celebrate what would have been the Centenary of "Mr George" Urquhart - the man said to be "the father, the originator, of the current success and appreciation of Scotch Malt whiskies" (Charlie MacLean's words). Joining G&M in 1933, George was a champion of single malt (at a time when the world's attention was on blends), and was the creator of the Connoisseurs Choice range in 1968 - nowadays one of the most legendary series of Independent Bottlings of the era.
Now, you might think a man with a legacy like George's would deserve a very special whisky...and you'd be right. Not only is this a 62yo whisky, it is an absolutely stunning 62yo whisky, presenting elegance, finesse, complexity and power you rarely see combined in a whisky, let alone one that has spent 62 years in a first fill sherry butt.


When it comes to old Scotch whiskies (50yo+), I generally have four checks - the further along the list the whisky makes it, the more impressed I am:
  1. Is it technically still "whisky" (i.e. >40% ABV)?
  2. Is it still drinkable (i.e. not reminiscent of chewing on an oak stave)?
  3. Does it actually have some discernible notes on the nose and palate other than "oak"
  4. Is it enjoyable?
I've tried one or two 50+ year old whiskies that haven't gotten past 2, and most generally top out at point 3 or 4. This whisky however blazes through the list, and goes somewhere else entirely. It's no exaggeration to say that, for me, this presents floral elegance and clean sherry power you very, very rarely see in a whisky. Think some of the best Karuizawas, or most stunning, cleanly-sherried vintage Speysiders. The sort of whiskies that come along once every few years, if you're lucky. We're talking rarified company here.

This is the best whisky I've tried in 2019.



Gordon & MacPhail "Mr George Centenary Edition" 1956 Glen Grant 62yo (51.7%ABV, 62yo, Speyside, Scotland, Cask #4455, One of 235 bottles, £5,000)
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Colour: Deep orange walnut.

Nose: Power and elegance. There are big sherry notes - hazelnuts, ginger, rhubarb, and even some coconut, but also floral subtleties - pot pourri if you like. Everything combines harmoniously and no one character is competing for your olfactory senses. If someone told you it was a well-aged sherried Karuizawa, you'd believe them, such is the balance and finesse evident.

Palate: Initially very sweet, quickly settling into similar notes as found on the nose - floral elegance, coconut and ginger, with an underlying orange blossom note, and candied mandarin peel. After some time in the glass, raspberries and orange (flesh, not peel) emerge, along with some hints of sweet nutty chocolate.

Finish: Long, sweet, floral, with a residual smoky honey oak note.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale):  95/100. That's a big score (my biggest of 2019) but is entirely deserved. I feel my notes don't really do the whisky justice - this is simply a beautiful whisky - one that I hope every single bottle of gets opened and enjoyed.


A big thanks to G&M for a sample of a whisky that would no doubt make "Mr George" proud, were he around today.

Cheers,
Martin.

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