Speyburn 1991, 46% – Gordon & MacPhail

Upon launching their ‘The Wood makes the Whisky‘ campaign, Gordon & MacPhail have sent out quite a few samples to bloggers around, well, Europe I guess. In the past I’ve reviewed a couple of them, but it was about damn time I did some others. They don’t send samples out to be kept quiet about, right?

I initially thought this bottling was done for La Maison du Whisky in Paris, but upon doing some more research, I find it’s a regular release in the Connoisseur’s Choice range. Speyburn is not a big name in whisky, although the guys from the currently-under-construction Dornoch Distillery seem to like it. At first I thought they were joking, but I’m not so sure anymore.

What Speyburn does is focus on malt. And being old fashioned about it. Maybe because they don’t do many fancy high exposure releases they’re a bit of an underdog. If I had known about this dram before, that would have changed for me.

Very malty, that’s the first thing that will surely hit you. Then you get minor hints of oak and dried apple. Ever so slightly minty as well, and maybe some crumble pastry. Very old fashioned and quite rich, even though it’s not overly complex. What’s awesome about it is that it’s completely unpretentious, and it reminds me a lot of ‘whisky’. As in, it’s more or less the quintessential scent of whisky, and that’s great.

Tingling with peppery hints. Mostly black pepper, maybe a bit of white for added heat. Malty again, including wet husks and hay like notes. Slightly more oaky than on the nose. Crumble pastry, apple, dried apple. The pepper keeps building and makes the palate surprisingly hot. After a couple of seconds a wood and straw dryness sets in.

The finish feels a bit oily at first, but quickly comes back with a more mellow version of the palate. Malt, oak, some minor fruity hints and pepper. Quite a long finish, but it’s mostly the dry barley and pepper that linger.

I really, really love this dram. What helped, maybe, is that I went in completely without any expectations since I don’t have any positive or negative prejudice about Speyburn.

This one just works. And it works well. As said in the tasting notes it’s more or less the base flavor of whisky with lots of malt, and slightly minor hints of oak and fruit. The combination of flavors is spot on and makes for an awesome sipping whisky.

Still, while being fairly straight forward, there’s just enough to discover to keep you occupied for a while. Simply spot on.


Some others like it quite a bit less than I did, however (whiskyfun, whiskynotes)

Speyburn 1991-2015, 46%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur’s Choice. Available for € 131 at Best of Whisky in The Netherlands

Thanks to Gordon & MacPhail for sending this sample. Much obliged!


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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