Welcome to KWM Whisky Advent Day 20 – G&M Connoisseurs Choice Inchgower 2000
We talked a fair bit about Gordon & MacPhail during KWM Whisky Advent on the blog: Day 4 we sampled a Ledaig 1999, on Day 10 a 1996 Auchroisk and just a few days ago on Day 18 a 2003 Caol Ila. We won’t retrace our steps here tonight so we will instead speak of Gordon & MacPhail’s distillery, Benromach. As long as they have been in the whisky business the Urquhart family wanted to own a distillery, it wasn’t until 1992 that they finally got the chance. Construction started in 1898 with the distillery’s first production in 1900. Located in the town of Forres (under which name it occasionally operated) west of Elgin didn’t stay open for long. The distillery operated intermittently throughout the 20th century closing the doors firmly and almost permanently in 1983.
When Gordon & MacPhail purchased the distillery in 1992 they acquired the buildings and all of UDV (Diageo’s) remaining stock. The distillery itself was in a poorly state and it took them six years to rebuild and kit it out. They could have done it sooner, but the Urquhart family doesn’t rush into anything, it was going to be done right. Gordon & MacPhail recognized that it would be impossible to completely recreate the old Benromach style, so they settled on a creating a traditional lightly peated Speyside whisky. If you wound the clocks back 60, 70, 80 or more years you would find that all Speyside whiskies would have had some degree of peating. In 2004 they released the first whisky distilled and bottled under the Urquhart family’s stewardship, Benromach Traditional. This year they reached a milestone, bottling Benromach 15 Year, distilled and bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. Benromach has become a worthy compliment and asset to the family firm which owns it.
But we aren’t talking about Benromach distillery tonight, we are talking about Inchgower, a distillery you have very likely never heard of before, so lets shift gears. The distillery was built in 1871 near Buckie in Banffshire, its owners were looking to replace the Tochineal Distillery. The distillery went bankrupt several times between 1900 and 1936 when the town council of Buckie bought the distillery for £1,600. They did quite well off their investment, selling it for £3,000 in 1938. Had they just had the foresight to hang on to it for another decade they could have sold it for many times that. The buyer in 1938 was Arthur Bell & Sons, a firm that would eventually become a part of UDV and the Diageo. Today its whisky is almost never seen bottled as a single malt, it is almost exclusively used in blends. Independent bottlings of Inchgower, like this Gordon & MacPhail botlting are very rare, but then Gordon & MacPhail seems to have a lot of rare whiskies others do not!
G&M Connoisseurs Choice Inchgower 2000 - 46% – 14 Year – Refill Sherry – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: leathery and nutty, subtle sherry notes and orangey fruits; there is a soft woodiness to it with, pine resin and cedar, also a note of Earl Grey Tea; Palate: big, rich and very nutty, the, sherry notes are much more prominent and pleasant than expected; Fruit Roll Ups with brandy soaked cherries, vanilla and honey; as it settles down some notes of candied orange and Earl Grey Tea; Finish: medium long and sherried, a cascade of tingling spices and more Earl Grey Tea Comment: this is not a book to judge by its cover, the palate and finish are much better than the nose!” - $107.99