A Rare Old Evening

Rare and Old Tasting –  17th October 2014

At this time of the year, the night before Wee Dram Fest we like to do something a little bit special. This year we welcomed a good friend of ours, Stephen Rankin of Gordon and MacPhail. Incidentally we also use this tasting to give a little to charity, this year we raised £1500 which was split between two Charities – Bluebell Children’s Hospice and The Prostate Targeted Therapy Group at The Royal Marsden Hospital.  

The Line UpGordon and MacPhail is owned by Stephen’s family and they who have been maturing and bottling Single Malt Scotch whisky for four generations and have been distillers since the last century. Well actually Stephens’s granddad George Urquhart, along with his sons, daughter and grandkids reopened Benromach distillery in 1998.

Anyway I digress Gordon & MacPhail arguably do old Single Malt Scotch Whisky better than anyone else so that’s what we asked Stephen to do for us, this is what we tasted:


Bunnahabhain 2004 – 43%

Made on the shores of The Sound of Islay overlooking Jura on the magical Isle of Islay, Most Islay whiskies are very peaty but Bunnahabhain is the lighter side of Islay, the malt is not peated so is usually a soft delicate malt.

This bottling is from The MacPhail’s Collection

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Pale Gold.

Aroma: Sweet and fruity initially, with ripe banana, kiwi and vanilla aromas.  

Body: Medium.

Taste: Sweet and creamy, with hints of soft tropical fruits and a lingering milk chocolate edge. With water becomes spicy and sweet initially with fruity elements, ripe peach and melon flavours.

Finish:  Medium

Cask type:  Refill Sherry Butts

Balblair 10 y/o – 43%

From a Northern Highland distillery situated at Edderton. Again a lighter style, the first two single malts were just to get you in the mood

Stephen Rankin

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Pale Gold.

Aroma:  Toasted malt and peach aromas with a touch of raspberry. A sweet vanilla note lingers.

Body: Light to Medium.

Taste: The palate is peppery initially with milk chocolate, orange and ripe banana flavours. With water, Sweet vanilla and pear flavours. Mild spices with a touch of ginger and milk chocolate.

Finish: Medium and sweet.

Cask type: Refill Sherry Hogsheads and First Fill Bourbon Barrels.

Now we really got going


Speymalt – 1994 – 43%

Speymalt is made at Macallan Distillery matured and bottled at G&M’s Warehouse’s in Elgin  Macallan is one of the most famous and well-loved whiskies in the world. This bottling is no exception.

Tasting Notes:Guests

Colour:  Dark Oak

Aroma:  Tropical fruits and red berries, complemented by subtle beeswax and aniseed notes. A lingering hint of tobacco develops. With water, fresh fruit salad with pomegranate and vanilla.

Body:  Medium

Taste: Cracked black pepper with ripe banana, pear and red apple. These combine with charred oak and coffee flavours. With water Kiwi and watermelon flavours initially. Sweet honey and cocoa elements develop with lingering peppermint edge.

Finish: Medium.

Cask type: 1st Fill and Refill Sherry Casks.


Benromach 1976 – 43%

Established in 1898 the distillery experienced many closures and changes of ownership prior to 1993 when George Urquhart, Stephen’s Granddad, rescued it. After being extensively re-equipped, Benromach was officially re-opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1998. Just two experienced distillers create Benromach using the finest Scottish barley and the purest spring water from the nearby Romach Hills. They personally ensure that only the highest quality spirit is filled into sturdy oak casks before being left to mature at Benromach Distillery for many years.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark gold.

Aroma:  Decadent crème brûlée with orange touches and rich fruit cake aromas… watch out for hints of kiwi and figs developing. With water white chocolate with hints of coconut, lemon and a subtle Sherry.

Body: Biggish (got fed up with saying medium)

Taste: It’s delightfully peppery at first with orange zest and apricot flavours, followed by a creamy milk chocolate edge and subtle nuttiness. With water it’s less spicy with more intense chocolate. A subtle menthol and gorgeous tobacco flavour.

Finish:  Long, sweet finish. 

Cask type: 1st fill and refill Sherry Hogsheads



Linkwood 25 y/o – 43%

Linkwood distillery is situated just on the outskirts of Elgin.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark golden

Aroma:  Burst of freshness – hay like notes, with a defined hint of well toasted malt. Some candied fruits emerge and a subtle Sherry influence lingers. Herbal with a touch of Rosemary. With water Toasted malt, with a Sherried sweetness. Hints of citrus notes (lemon zest) linger and a defined vanilla edge becomes apparent.

Body: Medium

Taste: Mouth-watering with a sweet and creamy edge. Some delicate hints of bonfire embers develop. Vanilla emerges and a hint of peppery warmth comes to the fore. With water Initially sweet and warming with hints of mixed spices and a defined dark chocolate nose. A subtle touch of peat smoke lingers in the background.

Finish: Long.

Cask type: Refill Sherry

Glen Grant 1956 – 40%

Glen Grant distillery is situated in the town of Rothes right in the heart of Speyside. The distillery was founded by the Grant brothers in 1840. It’s the only distillery named after a Scotch Man.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Golden amber.

Aroma:  Very fruity – strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe melon, Hints of hessian and old leather. With water Fruitiness continues with hints of red apples. Aromas of aniseed, leather and old books also develop.

Body:  Full, very big and bold.

Taste: Deliciously smooth, bursting with fruit. Menthol notes underpin smoothness. With water mild spices with fresh grapefruit and lemon citrus flavours. Subtle menthol elements develop.

Finish: Long and fruity and a bit longer and then a bit more.

Cask type: 1st fill sherry cask.


At the end of the evning we played a little game, all for the charities, to win a bottle of the Benromach 1976 – donated by Stephen. Not a bad prize as this whisky was on sale at £490, and that was vastky reduced for the evening !

The Winner

Playing The Game