Gordon & MacPhail started as a grocery business in 1895. This year they’ll be celebrating their 125th anniversary with a series of 4 limited editions. bottled from the last remaining casks they have from these distilleries.
The first is this single cask Coleburn 1972 drawn from a refill sherry puncheon at a whopping strength of 62.4% ABV, massive for a whisky of this age.
Coleburn distillery was located between Glen Elgin and Speyburn, incidently at just four miles from G&M’s home. The name should be taken literally: there used to be a lot of charcoal production in the area. It has always been a blender’s whisky, mainly for Johnnie Walker. The distillery was closed in 1985 and bottlings (either independent or semi-official) are very rare.
Expect three more anniversary releases later this year, all very rare whiskies with the youngest being 35 years of age.
Coleburn 47 yo 1972 (62,4%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’ 2020, refill sherry puncheon #3511, 363 btl.)
Nose: wow, coming right at you. Plenty of lemon balm, menthol, beeswax and gorgeous polished oak. Some sweet buttery touches (apple pie, bannoffee) as well as light hints of quinces and guava. A fruitiness that is perhaps closer to cognac than to whisky. Lamp oil, hints of white flowers and worn leather. Citrus peels and ginger. A lovely old profile, much less austere than the other Coleburns I tried. More paraffin if you add a drop of water. Gorgeous.
Mouth: very sweet and spicy. There are oranges, apricots, bananas and grapefruits. Quite some lovely varnish before it goes into peppery notes, ginger and cinnamon. Hints of green tea and rubbed mint leaves. It’s quite hot, by the way, so it’s good to know it does take water well, bringing out more menthol and a bright lemon note. Subtle oak char and liquorice in the end, but no overdose of oak whatsoever.
Finish: long, minty, with sweet lemons and waxy notes, as well as some dried rosemary.
This is quite a huge whisky, I’m sure this is the highest ABV I’ve come accross at such a high age. For a Coleburn, it’s also a surprisingly round and attractive expression (although my tasting record is modest). The intensity of the flavours is impressive – quite a unique anniversary dram indeed! Around £ 1500. Available from The Whisky Exchange for instance.