Welcome to KWM Whisky Advent Day 10!
Well I am a dram short and a day behind but we’ll get caught up today come hell or high strength whisky… Day 10 has us sipping on another Gordon & MacPhail bottling. I did a bit of a write up on Gordon & MacPhail on Day 4 which you can read here to refresh! But there is so much more that can be said about this family firm. Gordon & MacPhail was opened on the 24th May 1895 as reported in the Elgin Courant: “in New, Centrical, and Commodious Premises, No’s 38 and 40 South Street… a Family Grocers, Tea, Wine & Spirit Merchants”. The firm was founded by James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail, and one of their first employees was a 15 year old John Urquhart. One of his jobs was to help select and purchase casks of malt whisky for the shop. John also helped created house blends for the firm’s many customers in the north of Scotland.
When Mr. MacPhail retired in March of 1915 John Urquhart was made a partner. Two weeks later he became the senior partner when James Gordon suddenly passed away. The business has been in the Urquhart family ever since, currently in its 4th generation. John continued to grow the whisky brokering side of the business begun by James Gordon and began filling his own casks of whisky from distilleries across Scotland. This is a practice the firm continues to this day, setting them apart from other independent bottlers. Most of the casks were Ex-Sherry casks acquired by the firm through their wine business. John Urquhart also began the practice of laying down stocks of whisky for extended periods of time, an uncommon practice.
John’s three children joined him in his business beginning in the 1930s with George and Betty in 1933 and Gordon in 1950. By the 1950′s Gordon & MacPhail had the largest range of bottled whisky held by any firm in the world. Few distilleries bottled their own whiskies as single malts in that day. In the 1960s distilleries like Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Macallan, Glenmorangie and Bowmore began bottling their own single malts and promoting them globally. During the same period George Urquhart released a new line of single malts under the Connoisseurs Choice range which caught on very quickly in markets across Western Europe and the US.
In the KWM Whisky Advent Calendar today we have another Connoisseurs Choice single malt today, this one is a 1996 from the Auchroisk distillery. The distillery was built in 1974 by J&B (Justerini & Brooks), located in the heart of the Speyside, in the hills between Rothes & Keith. Auchroisk is a whisky almost never seen, save from independent bottlers like Gordon & MacPhail. Its pronunciation, “oth-rusk”, is also a bit challenging for many. The distillery is owned today by Diageo and is primarily produced for blends.
G&M Connoisseurs Choice Authroisk 1996 - 46% – Refill Sherry Hogsheads – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: butterscotch, flowers and freshly cut green grass; honey with dried cherries and cranberry, soft leather and spices. Palate: soft, honeyed and fruity with more dried cherries and cranberry but also some honey dew melon and orange slices; there is a lot of spice that builds towards anise and fennel, some soft leather and more floral-grassy malt; Finish: peppery and drying the fruits are still vibrant with fading leather and spices; Comment: this is a classic Auchroisk, lacking some of the hard rough edges of some bottlings; flavourful and good value. - $139.99+GST
Stay tuned for Day 11 of KWM Whisky Advent Tomorrow (Technically today…)