About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts. This will sometimes be accompanied by politically incorrect (whisky) opinions. You have now been warned! :-)
The views expressed here are entirely my own, unless otherwise stated.

Monday, 12 November 2018


As a part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the 'Connoisseurs Choice'-range, Gordon & MacPhail has during 2018 released some bottlings out of the ordinary. I'm about to review another below - stay tuned!

The Connoisseurs Choice-series has had different looks over the years, but if you're an experienced whisky drinker -and probably also if you're not- there's a good chance you will have come across these bottlings at some point.

© G&M Media Kit

I've already reviewed some recent bottlings released as a part of the 50th Anniversary celebration, their reviews can be found here and here.

For this next review we'll head up to the Orkney Islands just off the north coast of Scotland.

Now, Scapa distillery has long been living in the shadow of that more prominent Orkney Distillery - you know the one branding Norse Mythology and Vikings Galore (read: Highland Park) but I remember when visiting the Islands almost 10 years ago, locals telling me that they actually drank Scapa - not Highland Park... or they probably just collect Highland Park, but still drink Scapa ;-) 

This may have changed, of course, but I also have to admit I enjoy a good Scapa... There's not a lot of it out there - especially mature Scapa like the one I'm about to review...

Scapa Distillery seen from across the Scapa Flow, August 5th 2009 © The Malt Desk

Scapa 1988 30yo 53,8% (02.09.1988/13.09.2018) Refill bourbon barrel#10585, 148 bottles, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice

Quite an oily feel to this one...
Butter cream caramel and loads of vanilla, a dash of wet chipped wood, mineral notes, bit of chalk maybe? buttercups and freshly squeezed olive oil and a bit of salt/ozone as well. A couple of drops of water reveals oranges, sweet melon and a very honeyed side to this. Love this nose!

Thick creamy malt vanilla custard on a sweet bread sponge bed with lemons and orange marmelade on top and raspberries on top. A malt for The Great Bake Off! The malt is a driving force here, yes, but it comes along with a just a little oak influence to keep all the sweetness at bay.

It also still maintains its salty and mineral traits through to the palate as well.

I have a serious week spot for well balanced bourbon cask matured whiskies like this one and this really hits the spot for me!

Finally, before I'm flooded with questions on where to get this magnificent beast then -to the best of my knowledge- this hasn't been released yet.


Official sample provided by Gordon & MacPhail

Monday, 1 October 2018


As opposed to many other distilleries whos suffered multible openings/closures Longmorn seems to have maintained a fairly steady pace through history. It was opened in 1893 and even though it has changed hands a few times through history, it has always seemed to have kept running. Longmorn has for a long time been a favourite of blenders but has, through especially Gordon & MacPhail seen fame as a single malt also - I especially remember their 30yo offering as very good!

But lets take a look at these bottlings...
Gordon & MacPhail has launched these twin Longmorn casks from 1961, they're both refill sherry hogsheads, one from American oak and one from European oak. They've matured together in a warehouse in Scotland for 57 years

Marketed as Twin casks its then only befitting that Gordon & MacPhail Managers Richard and Stuart Urquhart is the G&M up-front image, being identical twins themselves.

These Longmorns are the oldest longmorns ever bottled as Single Malt and are only sold as pairs - or twins if you like - at a price of £30.000!

The 1961 twin casks, 512 on the right, 508 on the left © Gordon & MacPhail

Longmorn 1961 57yo (02.02.1961/xx.xx.2018) 40,8%, refill american oak sherry cask#512

© Gordon & MacPhail
Mellow and oozing salivating old oak, lots of malt and demerara sugar, Xmas Honey Hearts (baking), a cooling eucalyptus note and overripe oranges and brown banana, a pleasent gingery note and Muscato dessert wine as well. Very fresh for such an old whisky.

I was afraid the oak had gotten to this one, but no... Its there yes, but I don't find it at all invasive. It is, if anything wrapping and providing a litte wood sap. There's tea, ginger bread, a little tobacco, hints of walnut, more oranges and pretty much mirroring the nose except for a slight spicy (oak) attack on the finish.

Love this, even if it has a bit of oak - but thats to be expected in a whisky this old.


Longmorn 1961 57yo (02.02.1961/xx.xx.2018) 45%, refill european oak sherry cask#508

© Gordon & MacPhail
Clearly more sherried than its twin cask... again the nose is quite mellow but its delivering a minty and prune like nose along with very old school sherry notes, something not often seen today. Musty earthen floors, old wet oak, strong coffee with a dash of cocoa powder added. A slight burnt cask note adds to the experience. Stunning!

Lots of rhum and dark chocolate and espresso notes, mint, tobacco, prunes - all sorts of dark fruits in fact, some orange liqueur and very old cognac. Also a tad more drying than its twin...

Like with its twin above it there's a fair deal of oak present, but to me its not over the top. Just love, love love this old style!


To me, with these two, its simply just a matter of how much sherry you want in your whisky.

Read more about the casks here and watch a couple of youtube videos about these bottlings here: https://www.gordonandmacphail.com/longmorns/

Official samples provided by Gordon & MacPhail

Wednesday, 12 September 2018


Forgive me... a week has gone by since my last review was posted...

With the risk of sounding like you're sitting in a confessional at Mortlach Church this, yet to some unknown distillery, continues to have a following among whisky anoraks. Although some may have lost their faith and fallen from the good Mortlach grace, or atleast, fallen from the official bottlings from this iconic Speyside distillery, many continues to drink independently bottled Mortlachs.

Sadly there aren't many indie bottled Mortlachs out there these days even though a failed attempt by the distillers to re-launch Mortlach as an ultra premium malt in 50cl bottles should have left them with enough stock to sell on to independent bottlers as sales of that re-launch/revamping failed miserably.

Late July 2018 a press release revealed another attempt to re-lauch Mortlach,  this time with a 12, 16 and 20yo bottling (woohoo, ages statement is back in the entry level bottle) and pricing from £50 to £200, but this time in 70cl bottles.... However, with the general price increase, this will pretty much stay on level with the previous releases, sadly...

I know the bottling I'm about to review also will have carried a significant price tag as well, but as far as I know its sold out and I haven't been able to confirm its original price when writing this review but rest assured that I'd be happy to spend a good handful of money on a bottling like this.

Mortlach Stillhouse, May 1st 2010 © The Malt Desk

Mortlach 1981 31yo 54% Dist. 05.02.1987/bottled 03.07.2018 Batch 18/061 Refill sherry hogshead#425, 200 bottles, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength

Colour is dark mahogany - appearance in the glass is thick with slow logs on the side of the glass

© G&M
At first a dash of oak, then notes of old dark well matured Rhum and not whisky plus spiked Bailey's Iced Coffee, extra strong coffee added. Classic old style sherry notes with lots of dark fruits, add to that burnt toffee and wet bung cloth. Love this!

Quite a drying feeling upon arrival, but its them filled with brown banana, figs and dark chocolate and strong coffee notes.

The finish goes on forever with a bit of drying oak and those love old school sherry notes. Lovely, just... Lovely!

Its a sherry monster for sure and no real sherried sulphur notes in this one - only hints of Mortlachs own style of spirit sulphur. This one will be popular among the lovers of this particular heavily sherried style - incl. me


Official sample provided by G&M

Wednesday, 5 September 2018


We're staying north of Inverness for this next review.
Clynelish is one of my all time favourite distilleries and the standard 14yo bottling from the distillers at Diageo is one of the best reasonably standard releases out there, IMO

I last passed the distillery in late September 2016 on a whisky trip together with 4 whisky friends to discover the tours and prices had gone mad! Tours with tastings that were just the slightest bit interesting for the whisky anorak started at £100! Glad we had a bottle of Glenmorangie 1979 and Brora 1983 back at our holiday house, I had brought back to Scotland for our groups mutual enjoyment.

Prices aside, Clynelish makes a great whisky and this one from Gordon & MacPhail is no exception. Something extraordinary just happens to the Clynelish spirit when it passes 20+ years.

On to the review:

Clynelish Distillery fenced off during renovation in October 2014 © The Malt Desk

Clynelish 1989 28yo 49,8% Dist. 15.11.1989/bottled 26.06.2018 Batch 18/035, Refill American hogshead, 221 bottles, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength

Colour is straw - quite thick feling to this when swirled gently in the glass

A slight dusty and moldy warehouse note pops op at you right away only to be pushed aside by mild oak and bit of that trademark oily/waxiness often found in Clynelish. Just after that an incredible fruit burst comes through with lots of apple, pears and bananas accompanied by honey and a faint briny note. Just lovely!

Lovely thick and mouth coating. There are juicy fruits of a more tropical style this time like a multi fruit juice style thing. A few drops of water brings out a little ginger and turns it more citrussy in style and adding some sugared candy sticks notes to it as well.

A lovely Clynelish for sure! I'd love a full bottle and the time to explore this further..


Official sample provided by G&M

Saturday, 1 September 2018


Its been quiet here for a while - the reasons are many and some of it personal, so on to the whisky :-)

Whisky Merchant and Independent Bottler, Gordon & Macphail, based in Elgin (Speyside), Scotland is celebrating its 50th birthday of their Connoisseurs Choice series this year and that means new bottlings galore, 37 in total actually, including some bottlings over the age of 30.

I've chosen to start with a review of an Old Pulteney from 1998, a bottle that I've also just recently bought a bottle of. I've always had a soft spot for this distillery and its remote location in the far north of Scotland in the town of Wick has only left me to visit this place just under a handful of times even though I travelled Scotland at least a couple of times a year for the past 18 years.

Like I said, I've always had a soft spot of this distillery, especially the 17yo official expression and the oh, so glorious hand bottlings offered to those who make their way up to the north of Scotland. Often these handbottlings have been matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks as the Pulteney from G&M I'm about to try, so expectations are high.

Cask available for handbottling on 20th October 2014 © The Malt Desk
Old Pulteney 1998 19yo 57,5% Dist. 26.08.1998/bottled 21.06.2018, Batch 18/049, First fill ex-bourbon cask, 192 bottles, Gordon & Macphail Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength

Colour is copper - quite heavy and oily in the glass

Initially quite heavy on the oak but more is lurking in the background. Have to give it some time zzzZZZzzz... After a good 15mins the oak has settled to a sawdusty note, vanilla spongecake, malt and breakfast tea.

Water makes this go cloudy in an instance (Welcome NCF) Out comes hints of citrus fruit before its all oak and malt galore.

Lots of oak on the palate as well, so you have to like that. Again some fruit (overripe apples and pears) is present behind the oak, but its struggling a bit to come out. The finish is all on oak, malt and hints of dark chocolate.

Luckily I like a bit of oak in my whisky, but I think this one has maybe spent a year or 2 too long in the cask. 19 years in a first fill bourbon cask is a long time and it shows in this whisky. Am I glad, I bought a bottle before tasting this sample? Yes! Will I be drinking it and not passing it on? Certainly! It just posseses a style that is maybe not to everyones liking...


Official sample provided by G&M