Bought: Prize from Lady of the Glen, 16th November 2016
89/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)
If you’re interested in buying an example from the Speyside distillery my advice is to avoid anything bottled at less than 46%. This will protect you from getting early releases from the distillery such as the 10yo and Drumguish range. Drumguish is one of the few single malts on the planet where adding coke isn’t regarded as a sin. Yes, it’s that good! Your best bet is a cask strength version such as this example from ‘Lady of the Glen’, an excellent independent bottler from Fife in Scotland.
The first distillery called ‘Speyside’ started in 1895 but it only lasted 10 years. The latest incarnation dates back to 1956 but the first spirit didn’t flow from the distillery until 1990. A 10yo appeared in 2001 after several NAS (no age statement) bottlings under the Drumguish name. The distillery uses ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks with a house style of medium-sweet, medium-body, fruit, floral, malt and nuts.
One annoyance I have with the Speyside distillery is the name. It shows a total lack of imagination and naming it after the region is confusing. Most bottles with ‘Speyside’ on the label refer to the region and are mystery malts from an undisclosed Speyside distillery. And when discussing a distillery, saying “Glenfiddich, Speyside” makes sense, or “Old Pulteney, Highlands”, or “Ardbeg, Islay” but “Speyside, Speyside” is just ridiculous. It’s like someone with the surname ‘Taylor’ giving a child the first name ‘Taylor’. You’d have to question their sanity.
This 22yo single malt by ‘Lady of the Glen’ has a fantastic natural colour after spending over two decades in a 1st fill sherry butt. Still a potent 61.3% after so many years it scores an excellent 89/100 on Whiskybase from 2 member votes.
Tasting notes from Lady of the Glen:
Nose: Sumptuous rum raisin ice cream with chocolate strawberry notes
Palate: A black forest blend of fruits containing raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
Finish: A sweet dark cherry finish
Bought: Whisky Barrel, 6th May 2015
90/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
76.27/100 – Whiskybase (average from 13 member votes)
When I started collecting whisky in 2013 there were only 8 bottles listed from the Speyside distillery in the Whisky Bible. None of these scored into the 90s. I decided to get a miniature of the controversial ‘Cu Dhub’ to tick the distillery off my list. Two years later and I decided to revisit what Speyside had to offer and, WOW, what a turnaround! The number of bottles listed in the Whisky Bible 2015 had doubled to 16, and several scored 90+. Not only were there new independent bottlings but the distillery had been busy too with a 12yo, 18yo, ‘Chairman’s Choice’, ‘Royal Choice’ and the ‘Tenné’. Of the 5, the Tenné scores the highest in the Bible with 90/100.
I’m a bit disappointed with the low rating on Whiskybase for the Tenné. You have to wonder if this is due to the Speyside’s lowly reputation, rather than how the Tenné actually tastes. Looking at individual reviews written about the Tenné on the internet, comments are very favourable. To quote the description of this whisky from The Whisky Exchange – “aged initially in bourbon casks, Spey Tenné is finished for six months in Tawny Port casks. With a minimum age of eight years, this is a sweet and fruity whisky.”
The Tenné is a limited release of 18,000 bottles, so less than the Talisker 25yo I previously blogged about which was 21,000. It’s already sold out in various places. Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, loves it, saying of the taste “creamy, sugary, and melt-in-the mouth; the cherry-grape fruits are omnipresent.” He observes that the bright colour comes from using “brand spanking new port casks” but, instead of being a negative, he says “those Tawny Port casks have brought something magical to the table. And glass.”
I have bottle number 1738 of 18,000. It contains no added colour, is non chill-filtered and has a sturdy 46% vol. Not only that, the bottle shape is very elegant.
Here’s Horst Luening with his thoughts on You Tube (May 2015):
Bought – Single Malts Direct, 3rd October 2013
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
53.54/100 – Whiskybase (average from 88 member votes)
Of all the whiskies I’ve acquires so far, this is probably the most controversial among the critics. My confusion lies over what year of release reviews relate to. The bottling first appeared in 2003. Malt Madness give Cu Dhub 50/100 but don’t say when the review was performed. The average mark from 7 reviewers on Malt Maniacs is 46/100 but again there is no way of telling when the drinking of the whisky was done. With such damning scores the one grain of hope I have for the Cu Dhub is Jim Murray’s comment in the 2013 bible of “a malt which has improved beyond recognition in recent years”. Whatever the outcome, at £4 for a miniature I think it was worth the gamble!
53.5/100 on Whiskybase is one of, if not the worst score I’ve seen on there. Comments include “probably the worst whisky that I have tasted” , “very close to undrinkable” and “this is not whisky”.
Expert whisky reviewer Mark Dermul scores the Cu Dhub 52/100 and here are his thoughts on You Tube (December 2013):