Whisky Advent Calendar 2015: Day 20

20 12 2015

We’re getting close to being able to call this the #GandMCCWhiskyAdvent calendar:  tonight is the FOURTH offering from independent bottler Gordon & Macphail’s Connoisseurs Choice portfolio to come out of the 2015 KWM calendar, after Day 4’s Ledaig 1999, Day 10’s Auchroisk 1996, and just two days ago, Day 18’s Caol Ila 2003.  Thankfully G&M has sufficient options in its insanely huge lineup of whiskies not to have to repeat a distillery, so Day 20’s Connoisseurs Choice has a brand new origin, the Inchgower Distillery…which I can confirm I’ve never heard of before tonight.  This is because almost nothing it makes is bottled under its own name:  less than 1% of its production is labelled and sold as an Inchgower malt, with the bulk of its whisky being routed for major blends like Bell’s, Johnny Walker and White Horse.  Inchgower was somewhat optimistically founded as “The Great Distillery of Inchgower” in 1871, but it won’t surprise you if you’ve been reading along this season that it was liquidated in 1903, sold in 1936, sold again in 1938 and sold at least once more in the 1980s.  It was apparently near-impossible to keep a distillery open and belonging to its original owner in the 20th century.  Inchgower is now part of the Diageo empire, and Gordon & Macphail are one of the very few independent bottlings showcasing it on its own.


G&M are famous for their absolutely impeccable wood cask selection and whisky maturation program (a massive focus since they don’t make the spirit themselves), to the point where they have an entire separate website devoted only to their cask matching program, which is actually found at wood.gordonandmacphail.com.  You can’t make this stuff up.  They chose refill sherry casks for this Inchgower, a vintage whisky distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2014; the re-used nature of the casks definitely tones any sherried notes way down in the scotch, to the point where the type of barrel didn’t really stand out at all for me.  In fact, not much stood out, in a good or bad way:  the Inchgower had a grassy, stalky, cream soda- and maple-tinged but otherwise very quiet nose, to the point where I got out my Vinturi Spirit aerator to see if it could coax something more out of it.  Post hyper-decant, the aromas may have come across as rounder, but they were still subtle and subdued.  Things brightened up somewhat on the palate, a more energetic mixture of honeycomb, pancakes, whipped cream and vanilla bean, without the vegetal edge I had been smelling.  All in all, though, a pretty straightforward whisky, with a mouth-drying finish.  After some of the incredible values we saw last week sub-$90, I’d be pretty choked to shell out $108 for this unless I was a true whisky connoisseur (maybe the G&M range name is onto something) seeking out a solo Inchgower effort.  That would be some serious scotch dedication.



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