Review – Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Inverleven 1985

This release from Gordon & MacPhail, alongside the Glenrothes 1974 I looked at last week, marks the relaunch and re-branding of their Private Collection range.

Inverleven isn’t a particularly well known distillery. It was situated within the Dumbarton Grain distillery and was operational from 1938 until 1991. At this time the stills were moved on to a new home on Islay with the wash still being situated outside the Bruichladdich distillery and one of the Inverleven Lomond style stills is currently being utilised to make The Botanist Gin.

The old Inverleven still now has another new home after being transplanted from Islay to Waterford Distillery in Ireland. Waterford Distillery being the new project of ex-Bruichladdich owner Mark Reynier.

What was left of the Inverleven and Dumbarton distilleries was demolished in 2002.

This particular expression was matured for 33 years in a refill bourbon barrel, cask no: 562, has an abv of 57.4%abv and is limited to 130 bottles. It has an RRP of £1000.

Inverleven 1985, (33 year old), IB – Gordon & MacPhail, 57.4%abv, press sample.

Gordon & MacPhail launch Private Collection Inverleven 1985 - pack shot HRfE

In the glass the liquid is somewhere between dark gold and almost amber and leaves medium thick and slow legs around the glass.

The nose is surprisingly fruity, smashed green apple, peach and pear, all wrapped up in some deep vanilla notes. Given time a spot of treacle is also present, alongside some toasted oak, a little resin and a few faint floral notes.

The palate is creamy and round however not quite as complex as the nose flavour wise. Th vanilla is the most prevalent, alongside some creme brûlée, Caramac bars, and a little hint of cigarette tobacco. There are a few red fruit elements giving it a slight zing, alongside a few malty notes.

The finish is of medium length and is against mostly about the buttery vanilla notes. Theres a woody influence here too, charred oak perhaps, and a few twists of white pepper.


I’ve never sampled an Inverleven before so I don’t have much of a frame of reference for this. It is tasty with a nice mouthfeel but the complexity of the nose is lessened in the mouth and lessened further on the finish.

A strange choice perhaps to launch a new range with a more unknown distillery but Gordon & MacPhail are refreshing in their approach that it is not one of the bigger marquee names, such as Macallan, that they have chosen as a launch vehicle.

There is also that closed (demolished actually) distillery mystique surrounding this that requires the due reverence befitting its limited nature.


You can find more tasting notes and whisky news in the Amateur Drammers Archives.

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