I’ve made my thoughts pretty clear on the newly revived Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice range—so much so, in fact, that I expect they’ve crossed me off their mailing list. To quote Clark Gable, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.
You, the reader, come here because you value our honesty, transparency and the pursuit of the truth; not the desire to remain in favour and receive the next shipment. Such ideals are important to us, as is the desire to remain independent. Personally, I’d rather not be sent anything by anyone. Case in point, the gutwrenching bowel movements I experience when a letter or package arrives from Highland Park are not pleasurable whatsoever. Neither is the thought of having to create yet another piece to summarise a particularly inept whisky. This reached breaking point last year with the Whisky Barrel exclusive North Star Spirits Orkney whisky, of which I flatly refused a sample. Thankfully, Phil stepped in to save the day.
Last year represented our first full calendar year since our relaunch in 2017. We clocked over a million views, and then some. Even dry January is anything but, looking at the statistics with another six-figure month in the bag. Total madness is what we have right now, and where things are conceivably going. At the heart of our success—for want of a better phrase—is “telling it like it is.” Whisky is no longer a cheap commodity, and the new Connoisseurs Choice range pushes the price point on what we’d normally associate with a single cask release.
Some releases sell themselves regardless of price, such as the 30-year-old Scapa that I was more than happy to score a nine. For those of you new to Malt, including any PR marketing types, please do check out our scoring guide. Trying to sell a Glendullan—or in this instance, a Glen Scotia—for nearly £200 (if not more) is a very hard sell, especially when other bottlers are dropping the concept of any fancy packaging and just giving the consumer the whisky. Recently, I picked up a special edition Edinburgh Cadenhead’s shop bottle for £105. This was also bottled at 26 years old, a single cask, and presented at cask strength. Almost two for the price of one.
The market is quite competitive right now, and casks are everything. Gordon & MacPhail do have an inventory that is the envy of many. It has taken their family decades to compile, to build and to cultivate these relationships with distilleries and their owners. This inventory, in essence, is their life’s work, and is the lifeblood of any future successes. A restructuring of the sales division began late in 2017 as the company looked towards international growth, and not just in the United Kingdom or Europe. As part of this transition, the revamp of the Connoisseurs Choice range arrived just under a year ago, to mixed reaction. It’ll be interesting to see the next set of sales figures, and whether the good times keep on rolling for Gordon & MacPhail and the rest of the industry going forward.
These are boom times, and the question is, until when? The spectre of Brexit and a “no” deal could deflate any goodwill, as well as the prospect of continued growth. The stark realisation is that consumers are spending less and being more cautious with their disposable income. Individuals are querying the price of things more, and are asking why so much? The carefree and frivolous ways could be coming to an abrupt end. All those new distilleries set to release their first whisky might find the market a little less welcoming to a 50cl, three-figure price release. 2019 is going to be extremely interesting, so hold on tight.
This Glen Scotia was distilled in 1992 before being bottled on 26th June 2018. A first-fill bourbon barrel resulted in an outturn of 200 bottles from batch 18/036, with a strength of 55.5%. It’ll cost you £190 from the Whisky Exchange, or Amazon comes in at £219 for this release; remember, though, that we always recommend trying your local retailer, such as the Carnegie Whisky Cellars.
Connoisseurs Choice Glen Scotia 1992 – review
Colour: HobNob biscuits.
On the nose: Salted peanuts and pine cones. This is clearly an active and rather good cask we’re dealing with here. Plenty of honey and butteries – a formidable fat busting delicacy from the Aberdeen region. Beeswax, sandalwood and a touch of ginger root. Frangipane tart slightly warmed and time reveals humbugs. There’s a slight autumnal note, banana leaves, salted caramel and mint chocolate.
In the mouth: What a texture! Pine shavings, shortbread and milk chocolate. Vanilla, caramel wafers and creamy nature. Actually, there’s a great deal of vanilla in here. Cotton sheets, resin and a touch of cask char with a salty finish. Flashes of bourbon? A weird one on the palate, but interesting.
I quite enjoyed this oddity from 1992 and Glen Scotia. My only concern with this range, once again, is the price. This isn’t too far off £200, which for a 26-year-old might seem reasonable? I’d wager that if Cadenhead’s were bottling this, it’d be nearer to £100 than £200, and other bottlers would be more midway. Consequently, that’s disappointing, as I’d like to explore this one further. I’d suspect it’d grow and develop more on the palate.
If this new Connoisseurs Choice range ditched some of the bling and gave us a more sensible price, it’d be extremely popular at retail. Releases such as this Glen Scotia deserve such popularity. As it currently stands, I’m happy to deduct a mark for the retail price, making this…
My thanks to the Carnegie Whisky Cellars for the opportunity to try this release. Lead image from the Whisky Exchange. There are commission links in this article which we’re happy to highlight because it never influences or opinion.