Bought: Whisky Broker, 25th May 2016
84.33/100 – Whiskybase (from 5 member votes)
My only other example from the closed Dumbarton grain distillery is a 1961 Signatory Vintage miniature I bought at auction in May 2015, which cost a small fortune. After winning it I discovered on Whiskybase and Malt Maniacs that it was one of the worse whiskies in my collection. Since then I’ve been trying to get another example of Dumbarton that wont make me screw up my face if I decide to drink it. I narrowly missed out on a 25-year-old, 70cl, being sold by Edencroft for £110 in autumn 2015. Since then a similar example by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) regularly appears at auction for a comparable price. Therefore you can imagine my surprise when I found this 29-year-old Dumbarton being sold as new for £60 by the independent bottler Whisky Broker. Before it had sold out a bottle had been ‘flipped’ at auction for £140.
Dumbarton distillery opened in 1938 and closed in 2002, gradually being demolished between 2006 and 2008. As you can see from the aerial view below, there’s not much left of it. The output was mainly for the Ballantine’s blend but the distillery also produced the Inverleven and extremely rare Lomond single malts (not to be confused with ‘Loch Lomond’, a distillery further north).
84.33/100 on Whiskybase is a very good mark. This is clearly a significantly better example of Dumbarton single grain than my miniature. An upgrade successfully achieved!
Here’s a fly-over of what’s left of the Dumbarton distillery (Sept 2015):
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 20th May 2015
78/100 – Whiskybase (based on 2 member votes)
21/100 – Malt Maniacs (based on 7 member votes)
Whisky auctions – I hate them but I keep going back to them like a fly to a cowpat. May 2015 and I’m at it again with another auction of whisky miniatures. I was specifically after examples from closed distilleries missing from my collection. I did my research and worked out a sensible top price for bottles of Glen Flagler, Glenury Royal, Glen Mhor, Millburn, Port Ellen and St Magdalene. As the auction came to a close I’d been outbid on all but a bottle of Dumbarton, a grain distillery closed in 2002. Hurray! At least I’d won something.
Unfortunately my celebration was short lived when I started to hunt for reviews of this vintage dram. My first port of call was Whiskybase. 78/100 might not sound bad but the only scorer to leave a review summarises with “extremely chemical and totally undrinkable” and finished with “a true collector’s item, not to be opened.” It was time for a second opinion so I tracked the bottle down on the Malt Maniacs’ database. OMG, even worse! With an average score of 21/100 from 7 maniac votes, that’s the lowest rating I’ve ever seen for a whisky.
Even though I collect whisky, I still believe that, ultimately, whisky should be drunk. It seems that statement doesn’t apply to this Dumbarton. Other examples from the distillery score very highly in the Whisky Bible and on Malt Maniacs, so it’s not as if this miniature by Signatory is a fair example of what a Dumbarton tastes like. There’s no point in drinking it but, as a rare example from a closed distillery, it should do well as an investment. In 20 years time, when my blog has died and reviews are hard to find, I’ll sell it for £1,000s and buy a holiday home in France.