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Gordon and MacPhail Inchgower Distillery 2005 (Connoisseurs Choice)

Review: Gordon and MacPhail Inchgower Distillery 2005 (Connoisseurs Choice)
Single Malt Scotch Whisky   85.5/100
Posted on September 19, 2018

The Connoisseurs Choice is a series of malt whiskies from various Scottish distilleries many of which are no longer producing whisky.  Boasting over 40 different single malts available from the Scottish regions The sheer variety of styles and flavours of whisky available from Gordon and Macphail’s Connoisseurs range is staggering.

Inchgower distillery is a whisky distillery producing a single malt of the same name located on the outskirts of Buckie, Moray, Scotland.

The Inchgower Distillery was built in 1871 in the Lowland Region of Scotland. The facility is currently owned by Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd (since 1938), however the current operator of Inchgower is the spirits conglomerate, Diageo. The Distillery has four operating stills with the whisky produced contributing a major portion of Bell’s Blended Whisky.

Gordon and MacPhail Inchgower Distillery 2005 (Connoisseurs Choice) is a Single Malt Whisky which was distilled in 2005 and bottled in 2016. It was matured in refill sherry casks with no special finishing. The Spirit was bottled at 46 % abv.

Note: I was invited to a private Scotch Whisky Tasting where I sampled several expressions in the Gordon and Macphail Connoiseur’s Choice Line-up including Inchgower 2005, Tomatin 2002, and Caol Ila 2003. As a guest at the tasting, I was given small 50 ml samples of some of the spirit to take home. At the tasting, I took brief tasting notes for some of the spirits and compiled this review based upon those tasting notes as well as from tasting sessions with my small sample of Inchgower 2005.

In The Bottle 4/5

The Connoisseurs Choice range arrives in a beige cardboard box with corner cutouts on the front and back. If the bottle is placed in the box properly, then the one view displays the front label and the other view displays the opposite side of the bottle where the back label tells you many things you might want to know about the bottle you are purchasing. For example, it provides very a brief summary of whisky notes which hints at what I can expect to encounter in the bottle, (although in many cases the tasting notes provided by the seller sometimes seem to be a work of poetic license on their part). With the wide range of flavours one can encounter within Scotch Whisky, these tasting notes at the very least can steer one towards (or away from) particular oak finishes or levels of peat.

In the Glass 8.5/10

Colour: Pale Straw

Legs: Medium-small droplets which are reluctant at first but then develop into medium-slender legs which fall slowly.

Initial Aroma: Fine oak spice and butterscotch and vanilla with candied fruit (orange peel and red licorice) as well as an influence of sherry (dates and raisins)

Decanted Aroma: Baking spices appear as does a light impression of marzipan and perhaps hints of marmalade. Hints of chocolate and walnuts.

I didn’t notice it at first except as a vague niggle but we also have some menthol and resin which gives me an impression of furniture varnish. (Without that niggle the whisky would have scored 9 instead of 8.5 on the nose)

In the Mouth  51.5/60 

Alcohol push and Spice:  At 46 % alcohol by volume the whisky has just a touch more bite than I would prefer when sipping neat, a touch of ice (or perhaps water) helps immensely. Oodles of woodspice follow keeping the palate heated.

Initial Taste: Herbal flavours mixed with butterscotch, oak and vanilla, peppery spices (black pepper, cloves and hints of cinnamon).

Follow up: Fruitiness of both dry fruit (raisins and dates) and fresh fruit (apples and orange peel) begins to develop with a ribbon of Apricot brandy appearing as well.

With Ice: Bits of cola and chocolate emerge as well as roasted walnuts.

Mixed: I am becoming more than just a little enamoured with my Fees Aztec Chocolate Bitters, so I mixed an old-fashioned cocktail featuring those bitters. The bitters work well with the sherry influence within the whisky. (See recipe below)

In The Throat: 13/15

Body and Length: Medium bodied with a spicy heated finish.

Flavours during Swallow: Somewhat bitter oak and woodspice (almost reminiscent of rye)

Lingering Flavours: Menthol and chocolate with hints of raisins

The Afteburn 8.5/10

The dram is off the beaten path so to speak with interesting flavours and a firm spicy bite. I like it much better with ice than without, and I also suspect my appreciation would have grown if my sample had been larger. There is a real “once you get used to this ou are really going to like it” quality about the whisky.


Suggested Recipe:

Old Fashioned Cocktail with Chocolate Bitters

1 1/2 oz Gordon and MacPhail Inchgower 2005
1/3 oz  Simple Syrup (1:1 ratio)
2 dashes Fees Aztec Chocolate Bitters
2 large Ice Cubes
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first four ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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