Review: Imperial Gordon & MacPhail 1995

Gordon & MacPhail earlier this year bottled a 1995 vintage from Imperial distillery that was recently demolished. Unlike many other distilleries that are no longer in existence, Imperial has never experienced much attention from enthusiasts, collectors or investors. Partially this is due to the start-stop nature of its history, being overshadowed by neighbours such as Glenfarclas and not having the retail presence of its own range of official single malts.

More than most distilleries it has been left to the independent bottlers to highlight the potential quality of Imperial whisky. Perhaps over time we will come to appreciate what Imperial may have been capable of, when it’s too little too late. While we can mourn the passing of a distillery, Imperial was demolished by the Chivas Brothers in 2013 to make way for a new distillery called Dalmunach. This new distillery is intended to support the Chivas blends, so in the future it could well have to rely on independent bottlers to highlight its wares. In a twist of symmetry we may have to discuss Dalmunach in the same context one day?

This sample was kindly provided by the Jolly Toper, so without further ado we’ll highlight the relevant bottle details and then try some tasting notes.

Distillery: Imperial
Distilled: 1995
Bottled: 2014
Strength: 43%
Additional: refill sherry butt
Price: £65.69
Colour: golden syrup
Nose: not the hugely sherry influenced nose I was expecting. Really modest in fact; the fresh sweetness of nectarines, a surprising coconut note, more almonds and Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

Taste: this is a really light Speyside whisky and one for a summer’s day rather than an evening in November. A tangy edge from the cask with marmalade, fresh vanilla and caramel.

The cask hasn’t brought much to the equation over 19 years and there isn’t anything distinctive happening. It’s a solid enough whisky but with Speyside offering such a huge variety and range of drams being average isn’t enough. Priced competitively you’re forking out for the opportunity to try a departed distillery than anything truly memorable.

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