Inverleven 19 1986 Gordon & MacPhail Rare Old

Another Lowland? Fuck yeah, another Lowland.

I am a big fan of Lowlands. Period. Full stop. I don’t get them enough, I don’t work with floral foods enough, and they interest me. As such I jump at the chance when a special one pops up.

Enter Inverleven 19 1986 Gordon & MacPhail Rare Old, a not-quite-cask-strength release from a mothballed ex-Lowland distillery.

In 1991 it was decided to close down Inverleven, which used to be part of the Dumbarton complex. So it’s not really it’s own distillery: It was a pair of stills that happened to be at the site since 1938, and then three stills from 1959 on when it took over a Lomond still (which made whisky named Lomond). However the Lomond stopped being used in 1985 (for now).

Inverleven made both single grain and single malt whisky.

It’s not all over for Inverleven: Bruichladdich has reopened Lochindaal, and now the stills from Inverleven exist in Islay. The Lomond still is now used to make Botanist Gin. The other two still stuck around as tourist attractions, and then eventually were moved to Waterford distillery in Ireland.

So we have a single malt whisky from the region I love that eventually ended up in another region I also have strong feelings for. Guess that’s a reason to try some Waterford at some point.

Before we get into Irish whiskey, we’re here for Scotch. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: € 499

Region: Lowland

Vintage: 1986

Bottled: 2015

Cask number RO/15/09

Number of bottles 211

Abv: 46%

Colour: 5Y 9/6

Nose: Lots of pear syrup, cloves, a cask worth of cider, creme brulee, pot pourri

Lots of pear and apple notes. Very strong, nice amount of sweet and effervescent aspects. Eventually the sugar goes to a burnt flavour and there’s this strong dry flower smell.

It’s like someone took the idea of Lowands (floral) and then decided it needed a few tons of stone fruit to really balance it out. Not unpleasant but it’s a bit much.

Taste: Apple pie, grass/anise, Werthers, mangosteen, floral

Buttery, grass, and overall a lot better than the nose. Tropical, more stone fruit, spice, and caramel.

If I have anything against the taste, the floral aspect is taking a backseat. Which is only an issue if you’re having this whisky with the plan to drink a typical Lowland whisky. Or like getting all of the bonus points on a quiz but skipping some main questions.

Finish: Apple, orange, cloves, brine, floral

Fruit, bit of spice, nothing special. Not a bad finish, just nothing special.

Conclusion: The finish ain’t it. However let’s take a step back on this:

If you bought this at the original price then you have a rare whisky from a distillery that you don’t see often. End of the day this is a whisky that was destined to be in a blend but didn’t quite fit. The nose is really nice and the taste is an interesting mix of flavours. The finish is forgettable and frankly the main thing holding the whisky back.

If the finish was complex, or long, or even had some of the more developed flavours to it this would have been one of the more unique and interesting Lowlands I’ve ever had. As it stands it’s a solid whisky that differs from it’s regional terroir (got I hate myself for using that sentence) and just about anyone would enjoy. Are there better, less expensive Lowlands with more flavour?

Yes. Easily. This is rare because it doesn’t exist anymore, and the price is too high. That doesn’t impact my score, but seemingly the idea of reviews is to read them to make decisions before buying things.


Scotch review #1443, Lowland review #62, Whisky Network review #2131

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