August 2013 Archives

Gordon & MacPhail - Blair Athol 1997


Gordon MacPhail Blair Athol 1997

If there is one distillery which can lay claim to creating a spirit that is a contradiction in its own right, it is Blair Athol. If there is one independent bottler who can take a spirit and bring out its most ethereal qualities, it is Gordon & MacPhail. When you bring these two together, you get a stunning example of a whisky which is both delicate and yet rich at the same time.

With only four stills, Blair Athol (originally named 'Aldour') is one of the smaller producers of scotch whisky in the highlands. Virtually all of the whisky produced goes into the Bell's blend, so we are fortunate to be able to sample their single malt thanks to independent bottlers such as Gordon & MacPhail. This expression was distilled in 1997, matured in refill sherry hogsheads, and bottled in 2012.

Nose: Light essence of pears and floral bouquets give away the delicate nature of this dram. Very refined, there is no worry of alcohol burn on your olfactory bulbs here, and a deep inhale exposes sweet brown sugar mixed with orange cream. There is a slight mustiness surrounding these notes which provides a hint of the less refined aspects to be found on the palate.

The conference room at the main office of Speciality Drinks in London, England is an awesome sight that would make any whisky-geek weak at the knees. Lining the walls of this room are glass covered cabinets containing the most impressive collection of whisky I have ever seen. Arranged by distillery, the 4000 or so bottles represent a sizeable part of the vast and carefully curated collection that Sukhinder Singh has meticulously acquired over the course of his remarkable 25 year career. Every bottle here has a story and a special significance to Sukhinder whose genuine interest and passion for spirits, particularly whisky, is truly inspiring.

IMG_0412-001.JPGOver the past 14 years, he and his brother Rajbir have built The Whisky Exchange (TWE) from a small online retail business in the early days of the web to the world's largest and most respected online retailer of wine and spirits. 

A luminary in the drinks industry, Mr.Singh is approachable, professional and refreshingly candid about his career in the drinks business. Over the course of the interview we discuss his path to success, the challenges of bottle collecting, his views on trends in the sector and the upcoming prestigious Whisky Show being held this October 5-7 in London.


Recent Comments

  • Ryan commented on Forty Creek Heart of Gold:

    You're embarking on quite the quest; good luck Marc!

  • Marc commented on Forty Creek Heart of Gold:

    I have a bottle I've been hanging on to. As bad as I want, I can't bring myself to open it. I would love to track down another bottle so I can try this sweet nectar.

  • Ryan commented on Old Pulteney 12 Year Old:

    One of our favourites for sure!
    Personally, I'm always a little sad when I finish a bottle of Old Pulteney.
    I've got a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of 21 year old OP that is simply magical. The standard OP 21 was named Whisky of the Year in 2012 but this one is less sweet and more refined IMO. Matured in a re-fill bourbon barrel, it's loaded with peach, tropical fruits, beeswax and honey, ending with milk chocolate tones and a hint of brine...and now I'm salivating.

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