Today, we have a rare sighting of a Gordon & MacPhail release here at MALT. Since the family business uprooted and went chasing profit on an increased scale, we’ve lost touch. Prices have risen and the reality of actually purchasing a bottle for me and I’m sure for others has diminished considerably.
The business model has changed at the expensive of core customers who would have supported Gordon & MacPhail. I actually cannot remember the last tasting or gathering where a friend pulled out a new release by the company. It’s been a while and unless things change, a trend that will continue. And that’s a sad fact as many of us have been brushed aside in favour of new money and new markets. There are always positives in any situation and I include a bottle of Jura in this view.
Change whether good or bad, expected or unexpected, always brings about new opportunities.
As one playground bully leaves the school, those left behind regroup and a new dawn arises. In their place, we have the healthy support that many smaller independents are now receiving. Bottlers such as Chorlton Whisky, Dramfool and North Star Spirits. These enterprises might not have the legendary inventory or buffed shine of a Gordon & MacPhail release, but they are affordable and they treat their consumer base fairly. No excessive pricing or over the top packaging. Things are kept simple and this is reflected in the price itself.
As whisky consumers, we need to be fickler and vote with our wallets when we’re not happy. Generally, I find many enthusiasts, drinkers – call it what you will – are far too loyal. We seem to cling onto the hope that things will get better and greedy companies will change their ways. Except we still buy into the next limited release and go chasing around retailers in the hope of picking up a spare bottle. Don’t be taken for a mug and break the habit.
We’re all still waiting on the bubble to burst. The accepted fact is that eventually growth will end and a decline will commence. When is the only unknown piece of the equation. And when this moment does arise; companies retreat to their business plans, pondering their overheads and dusty inventories. Where will they turn to? The former customers who still buy whisky on a regular basis to enjoy for their own consumption. The ones that they cast aside without too much thought previously.
I’m a stubborn person and I am loyal to my friends and the work ethic that keeps this place ticking over. However, once someone has crossed the line there are very few second chances. This is something that the distilleries, corporations and bottlers should understand and respect. Our support should never be guaranteed or taken for granted. We are consumers after all. This brings about the opportunity of choice and the freedom to spend our cash where we want.
All of this brings us to this 1984 Miltonduff bottled by Gordon & MacPhail if you didn’t already realise it. This distillery is one of my under the radar favourites. They do produce a very good drop and there have been some excellent single cask releases recently. We’ll talk more about its history in a future review and in the meantime, I’d suggest you check out our growing crop of reviews.
This release was bottled at 30 years of age and at a disappointing 43% strength, which is a typical ploy from the bottlers. Taken from refill barrels there are very few details available about this release. It has since sold out, but is still available via Whiskybase. There was a similar release in 2015, but here we’re reviewing the 2014 edition. I have to thank Noortje and Dirk again for the sample, both of whom are fans of this distillery as well. You will more likely see a 10-year-old expression as part of the distillery label series if you shop around. If you’ve never had a Miltonduff then you’ve never lived!
Gordon & MacPhail Miltonduff 1984 – review
Colour: gold leaf.
On the nose: apricot, rubbed brass and red apples. There’s white pepper, caramel and flashes of orange peel. Familiar comforting vibes of nutmeg, tinned peaches and a touch of smoke. Time reveals wild strawberries, honey and passionfruit then rhubarb and a creamy nature.
In the mouth: gentle and refined with stewed apples and golden syrup. Apricot jam, woody bitterness, white chocolate and cherries. Drying towards the end with a chalky nature, brassy with a metallic tint.
It’s fine, it really is, but you’re left wondering what a higher strength would actually deliver. There’s a promising mouthfeel with this Miltonduff that I’ve felt in younger ages; most recently the SMWS 72.73, The epitome of enjoyment. A banging ‘duff at just 9 years old and 60.8%, which impressed Noortje and me during a recent SMWS Vaults visit.
Would I pay the asking price for this from Gordon & MacPhail? The answer is no. I could pick up a case of the 72.73 and still have enough left over for a six-pack of Irn Bru and a haggis supper. I’d be happy with that alternative or sleep soundly in the knowledge that another bottler like Cadenheads would be nearer half the price.
At the end of the day, this Miltonduff is a very good whisky with a slightly flawed presentation and a disappointing price point. The fact that it has sold out almost suggests that others are happy to pay the entry price; as consumers, we have that power.