Strathisla 42 (Gordon & MacPhail 1969/2012) Review

This is a 42 year sherried Strathisla that was bottled by G&M in 2012 at 43% ABV.

Nose: Super fruity and rich sherry right up front – maraschino cherries, blueberries, brown sugar, and raisins. Fruits are slightly tempered with some nutmeg and leather – oak is surprisingly muted given its age.

Palate: Oak much heavier here as expected, but still loads of fruit from the sherry. Some cinnamon butter appears with milk chocolate.

Finish: Mostly oak now as the fruits fade, but not too tannic which minimizes the bitterness here.

Rating: 92/100 – I love these old sherried Strathislas – they really strike the right balance of oak/sherry despite their age.

Value for the money: I bought into a sample split where the bottle was purchased at $535 – I wouldn’t buy a bottle at that price, but given its age, it’s a relatively decent price.

Strathisla 1972 (Gordon & MacPhail 1972/2013) Review

This is a roughly 40 year old Strathisla that was distilled in 1972, matured in ex-sherry casks, and bottled in 2013 at 43% ABV.

Nose: Super sweet sherry full of raisins, pears, peaches, apples, bananas, and surprisingly little oak. A real fruit bomb on the nose.

Palate: The fruit fest continues with peaches, spiced apples, pears while some milk chocolate notes develop. A bit of slate as the oak shows up, but the oak is still surprisingly mild given the age.

Finish: Peach and sweet sherry notes linger on with the oak coming up a bit stronger, but still held in check by all the sweet notes.

Rating: 92/100 – A fantastic sherry bomb if you enjoy very sweet/fruit heavy malts. I’ve had a few old ones like this where the oak is just too overbearing, but this one is perfectly balanced.

Value for the money: Looks like this originally retailed around $550 or so, and I think that’s a pretty fair price.

Banff 28 (Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur’s Choice 1976/2005) Review

This is a 28 year Banff that was bottled by G&M in 2005 at 40% ABV.

Nose: Pineapple and mango with hay, big sweeping oak notes, and almond oil.

Palate: Quite oaky up front with some banana and muted cantaloupe – turning butterscotch and toffee heavy. Some grassy notes and anise arise on the rear palate.

Finish: Dry oak with subtle cantaloupe and star anise.

Rating: 83/100 – Hints of a very good malt that was watered down a bit too much. Would love to try this at cask strength.

Value for the money: Not a lot of auction history, but most recently this went for €266. I’d pass at that price. I wouldn’t pay over $100 for this particular bottling.

Caol Ila 9 (Gordon & MacPhail 2004/2014) Review

This is a 9 year Caol Ila from G&M that was distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2014 at 59% ABV.

Nose: Very malty with clay, heavy licorice notes, bananas, playdough, and subtle berries.

Palate: Licorice, putty, mild peat, vegetal notes, and strawberry candies – a bit all over the place, but in an interesting fashion.

Finish: Mild finish that fades fast – mostly malt and peat.

Rating: 85/100 – A fun, young Caol Ila that somehow masks a lot of the peat to let some other notes come through.

Value for the money: I believe this retails around $100, and I’d say that’s a fair price.

Highland Park 8 (Gordon & MacPhail 2007/2016) Review

This is an 8 year Highland Park from G&M that was matured in refill bourbon casks and bottled at 59.2% ABV.

Nose: Heavy banana taffy with guava, a briny malt, smoky oak, and black cherry. Haven’t encountered such a fruity Highland Park before.

Palate: Big banana taffy continues with leather, apples, black pepper, and a relatively dry oak.

Finish: Banana lingers on with red hots candies.

Rating: 85/100 – I was slightly skeptical given the young age, but this young HP is quite nice.

Value for the money: This can be found in UK online shops for around $55 which is a great value.

Longmorn 42 (G&M Reserve 1969/2011 Cask #5294) Review

This is a 42 year Longmorn that was matured in a first fill sherry cask and bottled in 2011 at 59.4% ABV.

Nose: Thick, meaty sherry with a cloud of oak and old, worn leather hanging over. Blueberry pie emerging after a bit alongside fresh ground pepper.

Palate: Tart berries up front before a blend of sherry and oak explode across the palate. Musty yet slightly sweet with pepper tossed toasted walnuts.

Finish: Vanilla and toffee notes develop as oak becomes bitter and tannic.

Rating: 88/100 – The oak is a bit overbearing on the palate/finish throwing it out of balance for me. Still very nice overall.

Value for the money: It looks like this originally retailed around €425 or so, and that’s not a terrible price for a 42 year malt, but I wouldn’t buy this particular bottle for that much.

Imperial 15 Port Wood Finish (Gordon & MacPhail 1991) Review

This is a 15 year Imperial expression from G&M that was finished in Port casks and bottled at 46% ABV.

Nose: Sweet port full of dark cherries and apricots tucked in potent sawdust notes with some older oak in the background. Grape juice comes through more cleanly after a bit with vanilla and wax.

Palate: Very strong port influence still with a blend of cinnamon, tart apples, beeswax, and nice balance of oak.

Finish: Remains quite waxy with dry oak and spiced fruits.

Rating: 85/100

Value for the money: I believe these retail between $75-$100, and I’d say it makes a pretty solid buy at that price if you’re into port finishes.

Strathisla 25 (Gordon & MacPhail Reserve 2006 Cask #8510) Review

This is a 25 year Strathisla bottled under the G&M Reserve label in 2006 at 48.7% ABV.

Nose: Black cherries with heavy yeast combined with a slight raw barley profile. Anise, blood orange, melon sorbet, rich vanilla, and damp wood chips.

Palate: Fresh dough with honeydew melon, sour malt, a bit of tang, black pepper, and old oak.

Finish: Pepper lingers with some bitter oak and slightly acrid smoke notes – a bit of tangerine cuts through after a bit.

Rating: 90/100

Value for the money: I paid in to the bottle split at about a $285 valuation. I wouldn’t buy a bottle at that price – I’d be a consumer maybe around the $150 mark.

Ardmore 16 (Gordon & MacPhail 1998/2015 Binny’s Selection Cask #5587) Review

This is a 16 year Ardmore that was matured in a refill sherry hogshead, selected by Binny’s, and bottled by G&M at 55.5% ABV.

Nose: Fruity sherry with a bit of a sulphur note – bananas, caramelized apples, glazed donuts, and some gunflint.

Palate: Sherry takes a spicy turn with red pepper flakes and nutmeg – oak presents quite dry with tart apples dusted with cinnamon.

Finish: Turns heavily herbal as sherry fades rapidly. Spicy peppers remain on tip of tongue as musty oak takes hold in the rear palate.

Rating: 87/100 – One of the spicier sherried expressions I’ve tried which results in a nice contrasting profile.

Value for the money: This retailed for $100 at Binny’s which is a pretty fair price for what you get.

Balblair 21 (Gordon & MacPhail 1993/2014 Cask #1962) Review

This is a 21 year Balblair that was matured in a first-fill sherry butt and bottled at 53.4% ABV.

Nose: Bold, heavy sherry notes with bananas foster, vanilla, grape juice, and a bit of a smoldering log smoke note.

Palate: Strong sherry here again with biting oak and tobacco – heavy on the grape side with some subtle baking spices.

Finish: Sherry fades rapidly leaving behind a bitter oak and black pepper.

Rating: 86/100 – Intense sherry but a bit on the dark/heavy side – wish there were some brighter fruit/citrus notes to help balance it out a bit.

Value for the money: This retailed for a little over $100 which is a pretty decent price for what you get.