Tasting Gordon & MacPhail’s 72-Year-Old Single Malt

And it’s as good as it is old.

By Jonah Flicker 26/07/2022

Scottish independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail is no stranger to releasing single malts aged for more than half a century. But the newest release is one of its oldest, a 72-year-old whisky distilled in 1949 that has not lost the pep in its step.

Really old single malt whisky, or whiskey of any sort, isn’t always very good–it can lose its character, be overtaken by oaky and tannic notes and just generally be more satisfying to ponder than savour. But it is always, without fail, extremely expensive. Surprisingly, this new Gordon & Macphail whisky holds up after over seven decades in a cask that was filled for the company back in 1949. And, of course, it’s also very expensive, with just 180 bottles available with a retail price of approx.. $87,000 (£50,000 this will vary from market to market, however). The whisky was distilled at the Milton Distillery, which changed its name to Strathisla in 1951 and is now the home of Chivas Regal and is owned by Pernod Ricard.

Gordon & MacPhail 1949 Milton Distillery

Gordon & MacPhail

The whisky in question, which we were lucky enough to get to sample, was aged for its entire 72 years in a first-fill sherry puncheon and bottled at 48.6 per cent ABV. On the nose, you get fruity notes of mango and orange, with just a few tendrils of smoke curling through the bouquet. The palate is striking for its brightness and crispness, two notes not usually found in a whisky this old. There is a bit of citrus, along with tobacco, new leather boot smell, spicy tannin and a bit of anise. The finish stretches out with some grapefruit and a hint of smouldering campfire the morning after a night of making s’mores.

“Milton, or Strathisla as it is known today, has small copper stills with a distinctive shape that helps to give the spirit its rich, fruity and full-bodied character,” said Ewen Mackintosh, managing director at Gordon & MacPhail, in a statement. “Whether it was produced under the name Milton or Strathisla, greatly aged single malts from the site have always been met with anticipation. Given that so few releases have ever carried the Milton name–and that this bottling represents the oldest and our last–we expect demand for the 180 decanters to be extremely high.” The whisky will be available at select high-end retailers, or you can contact Gordon & Macphail directly if you’re interested in trying a piece of this rare liquid history for yourself.

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