The Glenlivet 70 by Gordon & Macphail: Part 2

So, a couple of weeks ago, Lucas and I tasted something that was unbelievable. It still feels a bit like a dream. A 70 year old Glenlivet, in Edinburgh Castle.

So, how was it?

The Glenlivet 70 from Gordon & Macphail

The Glenlivet 70yo
First fill American white oak sherry butt
Bedded down in 1940 during the Battle of Britain, bottled 2010
45.9% Abv
100 70cl decanters and 175 20cl bottles.
If you have an extra 13 grand, buy it here

Nose: At first, the impact is blood oranges, tangerines and a waxy nature. Then what follows is vanilla pastries, Jaffa cake jelly, bananas and a biscuity malty note. Really fresh. It jumps out of the glass and has such life for something with such age.

Palate: Slight hint of ash, slight hint of peat, again an orange jelly and zestiness. Creamy and slight hints of a Ruby Port.

Finish: Beautiful. Liqueur chocolates, stewed apples and high-cocoa dark chocolate. A nice citrusy note followed by the first taste of dry oak. This tiniest bit of dryness entices you to taste again. Sadly my sample is all gone.


The questions

We were lucky enough to get a chance to talk to Stephen Rankin (John Urquhart’s great grandson and Sales Director for Gordon & Macphail) about this release and Gordon & Macphail in general.

Chris: When it comes to managing these ancient casks, are you deciding the releases by what they taste like or are there other considerations (marketing, disappearing abv)?

Stephen: To give you an idea of this Whiskies history, this was one of 15 Butts filled originally. Through the course of time, each of these butts has been used in a vintages. Essentially, this means in the 1960′s, 70′s 80′s and 90′s these whiskies have been continually tasted and released as and when it is deemed they are ready.

Chris: Are there any casks that you have had to chuck away?

Stephen: Through good cask management, we have caught a few whiskies that have been very close to dropping below 40% but we have never had to chuck anything away

Chris: What are the key principles to ageing whisky for such a long time? Do you feel there is any whisky you can’t age for this long?

Stephen: One of the key principles is a nice strong bodied spirit, with an element of peat and excellent cask selection. You want a spirit that is going to be able to stand up to the strong casks flavours. It has to have a unique strong spirit character to last and age well. Columns of Strength and body.

When it comes to the Cask, we select what we feel is the best cask for a distilleries style. We send the cask to match the spirit.

Lucas: To what extent is this part of your cash turnover and what part is it pr?

Stephen: To take this a step back, this is a small family run company in a vibrant worldwide industry. This is a story of our great relationship with our distillers. This is to show the quality we produce and to encourage consumers to try Gordon & Macphail. It is a very high quality product.

On a final note, Stephen mentioned something his Grandfather had said to him: “Cover costs, treat suppliers and customers fairly and offer value for money”. Within this market, this Glenlivet 70 is value.

Thanks to Stephen for answering our questions and thanks to Gordon & Macphail for inviting us.


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