KWM Whisky Advent 2017 Day 20 – G&M Auchroisk 2005
We have our second Connoisseurs Choice whisky of KWM Whisky Advent 2017 tonight, for Day 20 we are featuring the Gordon Macphail Auchroisk 2005. We’ll get into the whisky, but first a little about Gordon Macphail. The firm opened its doors for the first time 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 create 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.
About the Connoisseurs Choice line (Courtesy Gordon Macphail): “In the 1960s George Urquhart, one of the first of four generations of the Urquhart family to shape the future of Gordon & MacPhail, pioneered a range of single malt Scotch whiskies, which he selected, matured, and bottled. In doing so, he effectively invented a category in a market previously focused entirely on blended whiskies. The ‘Connoisseurs Choice’ range broke innovative new ground, giving a platform to many of Scotland’s single malt distilleries from across all regions, some of which had never before been bottled as a single malt. Over the past five decades, we have maintained our belief that every distillery has a personality of its own. The collection of whiskies in the ‘Connoisseurs Choice’ range is constantly evolving, aiming always to highlight the unique characteristics of the individual distilleries.”
Auchroisk 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.
Gordon Macphail Connoisseurs Choice Auchroisk 2005 – 46% – Refill American Oak Hogsheads – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: very honeyed, vanilla cream liqueur, sandalwood, woodshop dust and a bag full of assorted Jelly Bellys; fresh cut wet grass and chocolate Jell-O pudding cups. Palate: round, creamy, malty and toasty; loads of wood: freshly sanded maple, singed oak and sandalwood incense; still honeyed, fruit candies and Jell-O pudding. Finish: light, fresh, floral and malty. Comment: Auchroisk does well in Ex-Bourbon, more so than Sherry IMHO; sadly this is not a whisky we will have for sale in minis or full size bottles; it is a WAC exclusive!” - $N/A