Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood 15 Year Old

It’s hard to kick a habit. Many books and life coaches would agree. My college days instilled all sorts of different frugal habits in me. How to cook a meal using only one bowl, how to wring the life out of dryer sheets, how to stretch leftovers, the list goes on longer than I’d like to admit.

One habit that has spread into many other facets of my life is shopping for “damaged goods.” A habit like this starts when a bunch of tomatoes have been discounted at the grocery because they don’t look great but, in reality, are perfectly good.

“Two dollar discount?! I’d be mad not to take them!”

And you’re off, down a slippery slope of pragmatic decisions.

This habit soon bled into my wine buying. In the beginning, I didn’t have the budget for anything grand, so I only bought young wines that were meant to be drunk fresh. Which is great for a lot of wines. However, impatiently curious me always wanted to see a little further down the road. I wanted to try wines with a little more age to see what difference it made. So, I would look for bottles in stores that were alone and hopefully had collected some dust. It didn’t always work, but sometimes you got a wine that was a little more in its prime or had a bit more depth to it.
It’s the little victories.

This habit then wriggled its way into my whisky shopping, even though distillates stay pretty consistent once bottled. However, to this day, I still enjoy finding bottles that have been stickered with a few sale tags in a desperate attempt to get them out the door.

Again, it doesn’t always pay off, but it did help me find a great bottle of Auchroisk that I thought was long gone, and for a few hundred dollars less.

More recently, I found a beaten-up display of Gordon & MacPhail bottles, and decided to investigate.

All the telltale signs were there:

  • Cardboard box display wrinkled and sagging
  • Bottles covered in dust
  • Several price stickers placed over one another to show it had been marked down a few times.

The college student in me brimmed with excitement. What goodie had been overlooked again and again?

It turned out to be a 15 year old Linkwood Single Malt.

Linkwood has always had a solid reputation as blending material. It’s an unsung distillery in the Diageo stable who’s single malt I also enjoy very much. The distillery ferments the wort a long time (around 75 hours) to make it as clear and fragrant as possible. The finished distillate is fruity, grassy, and refreshing. This is a style of malt that is usually best suited to age in used bourbon barrels, however today’s Linkwood was aged entirely in sherry casks.

Was my spontaneous splurge a mistake? Am I in for a jamboree?

Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood 15 Year Old – Review

Discounted on the shelf for $78. Bottled at 46% ABV.

Color: Black Tea.

On the nose: You get a lot from the first whiff: Molasses cookies, figs, sticky date cake, allspice, white pepper, and fruit leathers. Yes, there’s lots of sherry influence here, but happily the aroma never teeters into something saccharine or artificial. Underneath all the cask notes there is a backbone of creamy malt.

In the mouth: Initially, there is that clean creamy malt that was hinted at in the bouquet, along with shaved chocolate. Then it’s back to the sherry cask: smoked tea, dried figs, caramel apple, and dark honey. The finish leans drier with mild spice and wood tannin. Again, like the aroma, it’s never overtly sweet.


The ABV is just right on this. The sherry cask already speaks loud and clear. Both the aroma and palate are free of any unnecessary heat from the alcohol, leaving just the flavors.

While I wish there was more of a give and take between flavors from the distillate and the cask, I like this whisky. Being able to enjoy these rich flavors without the heavy sweetness that usually comes with them is a welcome surprise.

I waffled on how to score this bottle as I checked around for prices. Stores were selling this whisky anywhere from $100 to $140, which is a pretty big window. Though even if I had seen this bottle for $100 I think I’d have still been excited. In these days of bloated whisky prices when was the last time you saw 15-year-old whisky for $100?

I would have been happy to have bought it at either price. However, at what I paid, the whisky drinker and thrifter in me is gamboling home with a smile.

Score: 6/10

CategoriesSingle Malt

Sam is from New York. He developed a taste for whisky at his first job after college. Since then his tastes have taken him to Scotland, France, and various parts of the U.S. in order to better understand what he's drinking.

  1. SpartaTodd says:

    I was looking around for a solid Linkwood and found the same bottling at a good price. G&M have some really great bottles out there if you can find them. I agree also, the whisky is solid if unspectacular and the sherry cask was most likely refill so the distillate doesn’t get overwhelmed.

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