Today I sit down with two new single malts from Gordon & MacPhail. These are the first two bottlings in the new redesigned ‘Private Collection’ range. Each whisky in this revamped range will be selected by one of the directors and all will be released at cask strength. The range will feature single casks from celebrated, little-known and closed distilleries. Besides that you can expect releases with a wide variety of different finishes.

So let’s start with the first one, which happens to be an Inverleven. If you never heard of this distillery, it is not entirely strange. The distillery closed its doors in 1991 and casks are really hard to find. Mainly because all of the spirit produced at Inverleven was used for the Ballantine’s blend.

This Lowlands distillery is bit of an odd one, since it was built as a sister distillery to the now also closed Dumbarton grain distillery. Both were founded in 1938 and both are closed nowadays. Although Inverleven was closed in 1991, its stills are alive and kicking! Spirit is running through the stills again since 2015 at Waterford Distillery in Ireland.

This Inverleven has matured in a refill bourbon cask and is bottled at 57,4% ABV.

Inverleven 1985 tasting notes:

Nose: Pears and in the background some flower-like notes. It’s quite closed in the beginning. Then quite some menthol flavour, vanilla custard with a small amount of heather and it’s leaning towards lavender. This is all followed by lemon grass. Later it’s becoming a bit tropical, mango and clearly bananas which becomes quite outspoken. In the end a hint of some new oak.

Taste: It’s quite creamy. A hint of rose petals and there are the bananas again. Again some vanilla and a touch of oak. Some ginger in the mix and it’s a bit peppery too.

Finish: The finish is short to medium. Mostly on vanilla and pepper.

For me this is not something really special, although it has a quite a typical lowland profile and it’s quite delicate. I find the nose the most interesting part but I expected a little bit more of it. Especially if you look at the pricetag of this bottle. It might be because of the fact that it is a closed distillery and casks are very hard to find.

Score: 85

The second one is a 44 year old Glenrothes, distilled in 1974. The current owner of this Speyside distillery is Edrington which also owns Macallan and Highland Park. And you might know this brand from his odd shaped bottles. Personally, I haven’t tried many Glenrothes whiskies yet. So I can’t tell very much about it.

This Glenrothes has matured in a refill sherry puncheon and is bottled at 49,5% ABV.

Glenrothes 1974 tasting notes:

Nose: Oh wow, quite the surprise here. This is very nice! Blueberries, brambles and prunes. A hint of apple. Some vinegar and grapes. A little bit of chocolate and coffee beans. Beautiful and all balanced nicely!

Taste: Chocolate, apples, oak here as well. Some cinnamon too, but I miss the nice fruits that I got on the nose. The taste does not meet the promise of the nose, but it is still nice.

Finish: A long finish mostly with chocolate.

The nose is beautiful, really great but the palate doesn’t live up to the expectations. That is a shame as that would have made this a stellar whisky. It is still good though.

Score: 88