In celebration of its 125th anniversary, the iconic Scottish whisky maker and specialty bottler Gordon & MacPhail is releasing four ultra-aged expressions from distilleries that are either closed or from ones that utilized stills that no longer exist.
All four releases represent the last barrel of whisky owned by G & M from each of those distilleries. According to Stephen Rankin, G & M’s Director of Prestige,
We are releasing our last cask from each of these distilleries. All these whiskies are consigned to history. Never again will these rare whiskies be bottled under the Gordon & MacPhail name.
The first release was a 1972 Coleburn. A distillery that closed in 1985. There is very little Coleburn still available for bottling, although Diageo, the original distillery owner, is rumored to still have a small stock left.
The second release is a 1984 Glenury Royal; another expression from a long-closed distillery.
The distillery was built by a group of investors (Barclay Macdonald & Co) led by Captain Robert Barclay Allardice, the Laird of Ury, in 1825. It sits in the southeast corner of the Speyside whisky producing region not far from the town of Stonehaven on the North Sea coast.
It was among the first legal distilleries in Scotland following the passage of the 1823 Excise (Wash) Act. In 1835, it received a Royal Warrant from King William IV, one of only three Scottish distillers to receive a warrant from William IV.
Barclay was a larger than life figure in the region. Royal confidant, notorious gambler, and something of an agronomist. His claim to fame, however, was his feat, among many others, of walking 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours. On another occasion, he also managed to walk 100 miles in 20 hours.
The distillery had a checkered history. Only weeks after it opened, a fire destroyed portions of the facility. Barclay died in 1854, and the distillery was auctioned off in 1858 to William Richie. His descendants ran it until 1938.
It was part of Train & Macintyre, a division of National Distillers of America, until 1953, when it was sold to Distillers Company Ltd (DCL). That company would eventually morph into Diageo, the world’s largest whisky producer.
During the 1960s, the distillery’s capacity was doubled with the addition of a new set of stills. It was shut down on May 31, 1985. The distillery was demolished in 1992, and in 1993 the land was sold to a property developer. Diageo still retains the rights to the brand.
In 2003, Diageo released an official bottling of a 50 YO Glenury. It was limited to just 498 bottles. A second release of a 36 YO bottling followed in 2005. It was limited to 2,100 bottles. It’s not clear if Diageo still owns any Glenury stock.
Gordon & MacPhail, Glenury Royal 1984, 35 YO, 49.1% ABV, 750 ml, Cask # 2335, first fill sherry butt, 397 bottles released
This Glenury Royal bottling was distilled on Thursday June 7, 1984, and bottled on Friday May 29, 2020. The color is a deep, rich amber.
On the nose, there are distinctive notes of dried fruits, especially golden raisin, fig and citrus zest. The whisky has the classic Christmas cake aromas typical of sherry matured whiskies. There are additional notes of chocolate and cinnamon, along with some caramel and toasted oak aromas and a hint of a saline tang.
On the palate, there are dried fruit notes along with dried orange zest, as well as anise, a bit of caramel and mocha flavors of coffee and chocolate.
The whisky is viscous and oily with the distinctive palate weight of sherry matured whiskies. The overproof alcohol is noticeable but well integrated. The salty tang is more conspicuous on the palate. There are also some notes of toasted oak.
The finish is long with a lingering dried fruit sweetness, some pepperiness and a slight bitter note.
This is an outstanding whisky. The sherry cask maturation adds distinctive dried fruit notes to the sweet and fruity character of this classic Speyside whisky.
Glenury is a relatively rare whisky as a single malt. Historically, most of the whisky was earmarked for King William IV Blended Whisky before it was discontinued in the 1970s. Certainly worth a taste and if you like it putting away a bottle or two. Remember, there is little stock of this rare whisky. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.