Two superbly aged whiskies but only for the most demanding palates.
By J.M. Towers
Whisky lovers know that if we age the golden liquid in oak barrels that previously contained sherry—for a long time—we will obtain better results. If we add that the whisky can be of exceptional quality thanks to the outstanding care used in its production, we will find products as rare and unique as these two impressive Scotch whiskies.
Gordon & MacPhail is an independent bottler and distiller founded in 1895. Its headquarters are located in Elgin, in northeast Scotland.
Over the last 120 years, G & M—as the company is known—has established strong relationships with producers all over Scotland. Their oak barrels are sent the most prestigious distilleries to be filled with different whiskies, and subsequently, they are stored for many years at the distillery of origin or in their cellars in Elgin.
These oak barrels are carefully removed and regularly reviewed until they achieve the desired standards. It's a job that requires patience, as it is a slow and parsimonious process which cannot be rushed.
An example of their excellent work is the Mortlach 75, a malt whisky that epitomizes the G & M approach and its long-standing relationship with the Mortlach distillery in Dufftown, Speyside, which has the honor of being the first legal distillery founded in this area in 1823.
Mortlach 75 years is a superb whisky, with an intense amber color and ruby highlights. Its aroma is fresh and clean, floral and fruity, with hints of figs, pomegranate, ripe pear and peach juice. There is also a faint trace of vanilla and coffee in the background. In the mouth, it is acidic, fresh and dry, with notes of bitter almonds and an ending reminiscent of sandalwood. It is a sublime and elegant whisky priced at $30,500.
The Scottish Balvenie Distillery has produced only 219 bottles of The Balvenie 50 for worldwide distribution. This rare treasure is one of the best malt whiskies produced by the master distiller David Stewart.
The Balvenie 50 matured in two sherry barrels of old European oak. The barrels were filled on the same day in May 1963 and rested in the cellar of the distillery for over 50 years.
The barrels were prepared separately to create two different expressions, offering connoisseurs the opportunity to explore the uniquely complex characteristics imparted by each barrel. One barrel was given the number 4567, and it yielded 88 bottles and the other--with the number 4570--produced 131 bottles. The first ones to go on sale were the 88 from barrel number 4,567.
The unique and long maturation has created two whiskies that are fragrant, floral, velvety, and sweet with a well-balanced combination of soft citrus notes and hints of honey and spices. Dry and robust, Balvenie 50 comes in a hand-blown glass bottle protected by a wooden case designed by the Scottish craftsman Sam Chinnery. It shows 49 rings of seven different kinds of wood from lush Scottish forests. The price of each of these bottles is $25,000. ■
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