Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Glenburgie Single Malt Scotch 10 years - Gordon & MacPhail

When you hear the words "Scotch whisky" you probably think "Glenlivet" or "Glenfiddich" or maybe just visualize the iconic green triangular Glenfiddich bottle. Of course, there are so many other distilleries, even ones that start with the first four letters: Glen . . . but then you draw a blank having never heard of them.

You probably have never heard of "Glenburgie," but you may actually already be familiar with it. Glenburgie is a little known Speyside distillery that produces a lot of malt whisky for some blended Scotch whiskies that are household names: Chivas Regal 12 years, Ballantine's Finest, Old Smuggler.

It is always an enjoyable exercise to try the core malts that make up famous blends to see if the malts are better on their own.

I was able to try Glenburgie because the independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail have released a 10 year old, which I picked up for the very reasonable price of $44 in Canada. In the US, you will get this much cheaper.

'Independent bottlers' are companies that typically do not own distilleries, but still manage to have a hand in bringing to market great single malts. These companies buy up stocks of surplus malt from various distilleries, age them in various casks, and then bottle when they consider the malt is at its zenith. Some of these companies do a brilliant job in this regard. Gordon & MacPhail is one of them.

By way of astute cask selection, aging in their own warehouses, Gordon & MacPhail is able to take what was a mediocre or subpar malt and transform it into an interesting and sometimes even marvelous single malt.

They have succeeded with Glenburgie 10 years.

Malty, cereal, warm apple pie.

Sweet entry of baklava/marzipan, vanilla, oatmeal with a dash of brown sugar.

Florida oranges, crisp red grape skins, lemon zest.

General Impressions
Great value for money here.  A little complexity too!  Virtually no peat or smoke, so if you are a novice whisky fan who is put off by Islay malts, rest assured Glenburgie is a traditional Speysider that will not offend. Smooth, not offensive, very quaffable malt that starts sweet but nicely transitions and become drying by time of the finish.

Highly recommended!


Jason Debly


  1. Jason,

    I really enjoyed your review of a whisky by an independent bottler -- it was a nice change of pace. Sounds like a nice malt, too. I'll keep it in mind in case I ever come across it.

    Looks like you got it at a great price. I checked online and didn't see any U.S. stores selling it for less than $50.

    - Josh

  2. As a McPhail - or originally known as MacPhail I am biased somewhat. I am actually sipping on Old Smuggler right now. Great post Jason, I hoep to read much more in the future

  3. Sounds complex but very rich ?). Hopefully I'll find some to try.

    My state has a system of "state stores" through which liquors are sold. At one time, the state held a monopoly but we also have "package stores" now, which are independent of the government.

    The "state stores" I've been browsing normally have the largest selection but single malts are generally limited to a half-dozen or less of the better-known names.

    I wonder if perhaps any of your other followers are from the Deep South and have any advice as to where I might find a better selection.

    And thanks, Jason, for another to-the-point review. Much appreciated.

    1. Fellow Southerner,

      If you are ever in Houston, visit the downtown location of Spec's Liquor. Their Scotch selection is very good, and their prices are usually below the local competition. FYI - I'm not affiliated with them in any way, just a mostly satisfied customer.

      Paul M.

      P.S. - Thank you for another good, informative review, Jason!

    2. I have been to Spec's Liquor in Houston and must say that I was impressed by the great selection, very competitive prices and customer service offered by their staff. I picked up the Talisker Storm their that became the subject of a review.

      I also managed to watch the Houston Texans play. They are doing better this season than last. Let's hope it continues!

  4. I live in the US and looked into this whisky after reading this review... It's $70 a bottle here in Oregon D:

    1. It is not worth $70. There are better options at that price point for that particular flavor profile.

  5. Jason, Ummm, this is awkward.

    To be polite, we tried this malt a couple years back and it was an identical twin to Ballantine's 12y. It went straight to the home of our Ballantine's loving member. However, it was priced like a malt and drinks like a blend ! Who wants that ? It was a plain old huge cereal sweetie with apples and finishing bitters. Terrible deal around SoCal for $65. I don't think I'd buy it at $40, not when I can pour guests the Ballantine's 12y for $30. I don't care about a pour being being a malt or a blend per se; I care about the extent to which it rings the chimes for the imbiber from their glass and how much I have to pay for it ! Gotta be fair here, Jason. The Glenburgie 10y from Gordon & MacPhail is as about as poor a value as one can find for $40, let alone for $65 (US). Cheers ! JK

    1. I am surprised you found it that way. But, I welcome the diversity of opinion as it may aid other readers. Thank you for contributing!