Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Distillery 1968 & Glenlivet Distillery 1954

Philip Day looks at Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Distillery 1968 & Glenlivet Distillery 1954, part of the company’s ‘Private Collection’

In his feature about Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Distillery 1968 & Glenlivet Distillery 1954, Philip provides the brand’s tasting notes as well as his own tasting notes.

Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Distillery 1968 & Glenlivet Distillery 1954

Nobody is certain what effects Brexit will have on the UK economy. Whatever happens, the popularity of malt whisky, worth over £1.1 billion to the UK economy last year, will continue impervious to any possible changes. Well aware of the significance of this market, Gordon & MacPhail, the specialists in Single malt Scotch whisky maturation is releasing two new, very desirable ultra-rare single malt bottlings, as part of its newly redesigned ‘Private Collection’ range of rare and exclusive single cask releases, from celebrated, little-known and closed distilleries, which have been specially selected personally by a member of the Urquhart family that has owned the Gordon & MacPhail company for four generations.

The two new ultra-rare single malts unveiled by Gordon & MacPhail are stunning additions to its ‘Private Collection’ range: a 64-Years-Old single malt from Glenlivet Distillery and a landmark 50-Years-Old from Caol Ila Distillery – the oldest Caol Ila single malt ever bottled and released onto the market.

Both of these ultra-rare single malts were selected for bottling by Stuart Urquhart, Gordon & MacPhail’s Associate Director of Whisky Supply and member of the fourth generation of the Urquhart family, who determined that the two malts, being matured in Gordon & MacPhail casks, had achieved their peak potential and were ready to be bottled.

Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Distillery 1968 & Glenlivet Distillery 1954

Stuart Urquhart

Each of these exceptional malts is beautifully presented in a hand-blown crystal decanter, which is encased within a handmade, exquisitely veneered, wooden presentation box.

In 1968, single malt whisky from the Caol Ila Distillery was allowed to mature in a Gordon & MacPhail refill Sherry hogshead. Fifty years later it has been bottled at a cask strength of 52.5% ABV.

Given the extreme rarity of this single malt bottling, only 199 decanters will be available worldwide at a UK RRP of £7,500. (Please note that the price in international markets may vary as a result of additional local taxes and import duties.)


Caol Ila Distillery 1968 (Private Collection) 52.5% ABV

Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Distillery 1968 & Glenlivet Distillery 1954

Region: Islay

Distilled: Thursday, 21 March, 1968

Bottled: Friday 6 July, 2018

Age: 50 years old

Cask No.: 4021901

Cask Type: Refill Sherry hogshead

Outturn: 199 bottles


Tasting notes by Gordon & MacPhail

Colour: Dark Gold

Aroma: Delicate wisps of peat smoke combine with aromas of honey-cured meats and vanilla pods. Fruitcake-laden notes of nuts, raisins, and plump sultanas develop. A hint of menthol runs throughout. Undertones of zesty citrus and aromatic lemongrass linger.   

Taste: A refined and subtle, yet warming, spice opens into raspberry, cranberry, and sweet baked apple flavours. Thick cut Seville orange marmalade and gentle Sherry influences develop with time. Mature oak notes add a slightly drying character.

Finish: A lingering finish of smouldering bonfire embers combine  delicately  with lemon zest and charred oak.


Personal tasting notes (Official sample provided by Gordon & MacPhail )

Nose: Fresh, fruity and vibrant, in spite of its maturity. Complex aromas of a delicatessen store-room where musty salami hang next to sides of honey-cured hams and bacon. There’s the occasional whiff of bonfire smoke rising from dying embers, mixing with aromas of Sherry soaked Dundee cake, accentuating the nuts and plump vine fruits. Hiding in the background are zesty citrus notes and a slight scent of menthol.

Taste: Warming spices on the palate immediately make their presence felt, followed by tart fruit flavours like cranberries and kiwifruit. The influence of the Sherry helps to bring forth more candied fruit flavours with hints of sweetened apple purée.

Bitter citrus notes deliver top quality Scottish marmalade made with the finest Seville oranges. Smoky oak notes provide a rather drying influence.

Finish: A rather long, perfect finish with just the right balance of taste of charred oak mixing pleasantly with traces of citrus zest.

With Water: A fresh briny coastal note is added and the hint of menthol is accentuated reminiscent of an expensive brand of toothpaste. More lemongrass notes are more discernible in the finish.

In short, a lovely old dram, that has aged gracefully. On the nose it promises much. On the palate it delivers a refined and extremely rewarding experience. I thoroughly recommend it.


Glenlivet Distillery 1954 (Private Collection) 41.0% ABV

The second ‘Private Collection’ release dates back to 1954 when a carefully selected refill Sherry butt was filled at Glenlivet Distillery in Speyside.

This exclusive single malt has lain maturing in Cask 1412 for sixty-four years before being bottled by Gordon & MacPhail at cask strength (ABV 41.0%). Only 22 decanters of this well-aged single malt whisky will be available globally at a UK RRP of £9,950.

(Please note that the price in international markets may vary as a result of additional local taxes and import duties.)

Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Distillery 1968 & Glenlivet Distillery 1954

Region: Speyside

Distilled: Thursday, 15 April, 1954

Bottled: Friday 27 April, 2018

Age: 64 years old

Cask No.: 1412

Cask Type: Refill Sherry butt

Outturn: 222 bottles


Tasting notes by Gordon & MacPhail

Colour: Dark gold.

Aroma: Initially sweet with hints of brown sugar and toffee apple; light herbal aromas evolve into candy notes. Traces of cinnamon and aniseed add depth whilst sweetness arrives from lemon curd and vanilla undertones. Aromatic fresh- roasted coffee beans balance orange zest.   

Taste: Silky, smooth and intense golden syrup mingles with stewed fruit and rum and raisin. Touches of dark chocolate complement the delicate Sherry flavours. Sweet brown sugar remains whilst hints of walnut add a slightly drying aspect. 

Finish: A refined and elegant dram with a black peppercorn and lingering mature oak finish.


Personal tasting notes (Official sample provided by Gordon & MacPhail )

Nose: Waves of sweetness with layers of candied fruit and caramel, aromatics like cinnamon, star anise or fennel and vanilla. A suggestion of dark chocolate orange and whiffs of freshly ground mocha coffee beans.

Taste: Beautiful mouth feel: unctuous and seductive. An intense syrupy taste, cloying but not unpleasant that reminds me of tinned cling peaches added to expensive creamy rum and raisin ice cream sprinkled with shavings of a high quality dark chocolate. The Sherry flavour is a constant in the background more -oloroso than amontillado. The hint of lightly toasted pecans add a slightly drying character.

Finish: A long, refined finish with mellow wood notes and slightly peppery or spicy undertones. Moreish.

With Water: Not added, therefore I cannot comment.

Out of the two excellent samples tested, for me this one is more outstanding. It made me stop and savour every single drop. Both releases deserve to be part of any serious whisky aficionado’s collection, each being distinctive in their own way. Don’t miss out!

Of these unique releases, Stephen Rankin, Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige and fourth generation member of the Urquhart family, said:

“Our ’Private Collection’ range allows discerning whisky enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy some of the oldest and rarest single malts in the world. These latest releases epitomise the expertise and commitment that has gone into pairing spirit and cask over 123 years and four generations of the Urquhart family. Thanks to the foresight of my forefathers, we have one of the most extensive single malt whisky libraries in the world, with expressions from over 100 Scottish distilleries.”

Indeed, among Gordon & MacPhail’s maturing stocks are casks from no fewer than twenty-six closed, mothballed or demolished Scotch distilleries – a liquid archive unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

Stephen Rankin, further commented:

“For over a century my family has been maturing whisky and using our skills, experience, and passion for single malts to recognise exactly the right moment to bottle a spirit that will be loved by discerning whisky drinkers around the globe.”

The latest ‘Private Collection’ releases will be available to purchase from specialist whisky retailers.

Further ultra-rare releases from the new ‘Private Collection’ will be revealed in coming months.

For further information, please visit their website at


Gordon & MacPhail Whiskies

Established in 1895, family-owned Gordon & MacPhail is renowned as a curator of some of the world’s finest and rarest single malt Scotch whiskies from over 100 distilleries. Four generations of the Urquhart family have continued to pursue the perfect partnership between spirit and cask.

Since its foundation, Gordon & MacPhail has carefully matched spirit to the highest quality oak casks which are sent to distilleries throughout Scotland, filled with new-make spirit, and matured either at the distillery of origin or in the firm’s own bonded warehouses in Elgin.

Managing a portfolio of casks is a complex business. The Urquhart family have honed their expertise over generations allowing them to fully comprehend how the different styles of spirit produced by Scotland’s individual distilleries will mature in cask.

Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Distillery 1968 & Glenlivet Distillery 1954

It is this simple but endlessly complex pairing that creates an intriguing and unique portfolio of expressions – single malts that Scotch whisky lovers will not find anywhere else.

It is this in-depth knowledge and experience of cask curation that allows them to consistently deliver a range of perfectly matured whiskies.

“Our maturation management creates complex, balanced and subtle single malts, which will only carry the Gordon & MacPhail name when ready”.


The Gordon & MacPhail core malt whisky portfolio:

In 2018, the company unveiled its new portfolio:

  • Discovery – Utterly dependable, this flavour-led range is the perfect introduction to our portfolio of quality single malt Scotch whiskies.
  • Distillery Labels – A range celebrating our long-standing relationships with Scotland’s distilleries.
  • Connoisseurs Choice – The heart of our portfolio – always unique, these non-chill-filtered, natural coloured, small batch expressions are genuine one-offs.
  • Private Collection – Greatly-aged single malts from celebrated, little-known, or closed distilleries specially selected by members of the Urquhart family.
  • Generations – A prestigious collection of old, rare, and exclusive masterpieces.

(See website for more details)

In addition to possessing an inimitable knowledge of Scottish single malts and passion for matching spirit with oak, the Urquhart family long held an unfulfilled ambition to own its own distillery. This desire finally became a reality in 1993 with the purchase of the Benromach Distillery on the outskirts of Forres, just twelve miles from the steps of their world famous shop in Elgin. Following five years of careful and deliberate re-equipping, Benromach Distillery was officially reopened by HRH Prince Charles in 1998.


Company Details:

Address: Gordon & MacPhail, George House, Boroughbriggs Road, Elgin, Moray, Scotland, IV30 1JY

Telephone: +44 (0) 1343 545 111

Website:  Twitter: @gordon_macphail

Email: Facebook: @gordonandmacphail

Instagram: gordonandmacphail



Media materials and complimentary samples kindly provided by Gordon & MacPhail on:



Images kindly provided by Gordon & MacPhail on:

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