Bought: Berry Bros & Rudd, 31st July 2018
87.28/100 – Whiskybase (average from 60 member votes)
For my 700th blog post I wanted to add something special, and Daftmill distillery came to my rescue. When I started getting interested in whisky in 2013 Daftmill had been distilling spirit for 8 years but nothing had been released from the lowland distillery. Surely something would appear soon? But we had to wait until 2018 before the 12-year-old inaugural release hit the market. I can’t remember exactly how much it was advertised for (£300?) but the 629 bottles sold out very quickly. Formed from 3 barrels it had a cask strength of 55.8% and scores a very respectable 86.3/100 on Whiskybase from 37 votes.
In July 2018 the second release from Daftmill arrived at a more pocket-friendly £95. This ‘summer batch release’ was formed from 7 barrels and limited to 1665 bottles. According to Berry Bros & Rudd I got the last bottle they had in stock. The reverse label says, “distilled and filled in the summer of 2006, these ex-Bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill in Kentucky have waited patiently in the bottom storey of Warehouse No 1 for nearly 12 years”. The only thing daft about this release is that some shops are now listing it as £799. The current auction value is about £180.
Although diluted down to 46% my summer release from Daftmill scores a point more on Whiskybase than the older and stronger inaugural release. People really love this stuff, which must be very encouraging for the Cuthbert family who own and operate the distillery at their farm in Fife. Comments about the taste mention lemon zest, peaches, honey, shortbread, spices, fresh marzipan, mint, key lime pie, tangy oranges, greengages, toffee and a youthful floral complexity. Sounds delicious!
I can only find two YouTube videos about Daftmill distillery, both of which take a tour with the owner Francis Cuthbert in 2010. He’s interviewed by Charles MacLean for SingleMaltTv and then by Ralfy who gets to nose a 4-year-old barrel of spirit. Ralfy likened the aroma to the former lowland distillery Linlithgow, which Francis thought was a fair comparison. A comment on Whiskybase feels the summer release resembles Rosebank, so you get the impression that Daftmill whisky has fantastic lowland pedigree.
When you research Daftmill distillery on the internet it soon becomes clear how generous the owner Francis Cuthbert is with his time. He has given numerous people a tour of his facilities even though I don’t believe the distillery is officially open to the public. It’s a working farm after all and has been in the Cuthbert family for 6 generations. But among the lowing cows and fields of barley (they grow their own, which is malted elsewhere) there is a real passion for making whisky. I have a feeling the distillery will go from strength to strength.
Bought: Cadenhead, 5th December 2017
84.78/100 – Whiskybase (average from 11 member votes)
When you look at Old Pulteney (OP) in Jim Murray’s ‘Whisky Bible 2018’ you realise how rare it is to see independent bottlings from this illustrious distillery. In fact Mr Murray only mentions Cadenhead and Gordon & MacPhail. Of these only the two bottles by Cadenhead are cask strength. The distillery itself rarely releases a whisky that hasn’t been diluted down. But if you’re a fan of a particular distillery it doesn’t take long before you want to try the raw liquid straight from the barrel. And as a fan of OP, this 11yo by Cadenhead gives me my change to do just that. It’s Old Pulteney au naturale.
My OP 11yo is made from a combination of two hogshead casks distilled in 2006 and bottled at 55.8% in 2017. It comes from ex-bourbon barrels, which is the standard wood used by the distillery. 570 bottles were produced. Although Jim Murray doesn’t review this particular dram he scores a similar Cadenhead 2006 11yo a very respectable 87/100. This was also an ex-bourbon hogshead but only one barrel was used to produce 294 bottles. It scores 82.39/100 on Whiskybase from 25 votes. My 11yo scores a fantastic 84.78/100 from 11 votes so far, which suggests a marginally better dram.
Cadenhead release cask strength Old Pulteney quite regularly so if it’s something you’re interested in then keep an eye on their website. My 11yo was bottled in 2017 but Cadenhead have already bottled two OP 12yo cask strengths in 2018 (one of which is still available on their website for £54.30 from a run of only 282 bottles, so cask strength AND single cask).
Tasting notes by Cadenhead:
Nose: Toffee popcorn, cereals, barley sugar, developing rich notes with this coastal dram. The nose is great now into the palate!
Palate: The palate is driving in some incredible richness with some fresh ground black pepper, haggis crisps, cardamon pod. We also find a sweet note after this dram is left to open in the glass.
Finish: The finish is really good with a hint of red liquorice, banana loaf and marshmallow, the finish coats the palate with a lingering sweetness before the spicy mid note on the palate comes back in for a few moments.
Posted in Old Pulteney
Tagged 11yo, 2006, 55.8%, 70cl, Cadenhead, Cadenhead Shop, Cask Strength, Highland, Highlands, Old Pulteney, Single Malt, Small Batch
Bought: Master of Malt, 2nd August 2017
87.75/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)
According to Whiskybase there haven’t been many distilleries to mature or finish whisky in Bordeaux casks. Arran, Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch have done a small handful but Edradour are the experts when it comes to using wood from this illustrious French wine region. The small Pitlochry distillery, owned by Signatory, produced 25 Bordeaux cask releases since 2005. 20 of these were their unpeated ‘Edradour’ range but in 2017 they added 5 variations of their peated ‘Ballechin’. All 5 were from single casks, amounting to just over 400 50cl bottles per cask, and gradually released through 2017 as part of the ‘Straight from the Cask’ series.
Peat and French wine? Really? It’s fair to say that in the early days it didn’t always work but since 2012 none of the Edradour Bordeaux releases have scored less than 82/100 on Whiskybase. Of the 5 ‘Ballechin’ bottlings produced this year, 3 are rated and mine is fractionally the lowest with a fantastic 87.75/100. Bottled ‘straight from the cask’ at a natural strength of 55.7%, all 407 bottles of this 11yo quickly sold out. I’m glad I got one and can now tick ‘Ballechin’ off my whisky wishlist.
Note: ‘Bellachin’ is the name of an estate in Perthshire and also the name of a distillery in the same region that operated between 1810 and 1927.
Tasting notes from Master of Malt:
Nose: Salted & pepper crackers, truffle oil, raisins and dried apricot.
Palate: Jammy red fruit notes are up-front and lip-smackingly sweet, with burnt oak and cut grass notes in support.
Finish: BBQ meats with a honey glaze.
Posted in Ballechin (Edradour)
Tagged 11yo, 2005, 50cl, 55.7%, Ballechin, Bordeaux, Cask Strength, Edradour, Highland, Highlands, Master of Malt, Single Malt, Straight from the Cask
Bought: Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 17th October 2016
0/100 – Whiskybase (awaiting votes)
4/5- Philip Storry (his review here)
Although there are no ratings yet for this Dailuaine single malt on Whiskybase, of the five 11-year-old bottlings by the SMWS with scores, the lowest is 81/100, then two at 86/100, one at 86.5/100 and finally an excellent 88/100. This is similar to how Dailuaine by the SMWS does in the Whisky Bible across all ages. At one point a 10-year-old scores an amazing 94.5/100.
11 years seems to be a good age for Dailuaine single malt and this cask strength version packs a punch at 60.1%. The distillery uses ex-bourbon casks, which are usually finished in sherry casks when destined for single malt (e.g., the Flora and Fauna 16yo) but the SMWS have taken this cask as it comes, matured in first fill ex-bourbon barrels.
Distilled in 2005 and bottled in 2016 this Dailuaine is named ‘Lively and Entertaining’. Here are the notes provided by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society:
Flavour profile: Young & spritely
Constantly changing aromas; candied ginger, lemon and honey sponge cake, sour apple sherbet as well as aniseed and ginger thrown in for good measure – this one just would not sit still! So we took a sip – what a surprise; spicy chocolate-dipped pineapple with sea salt as well as sour cherry and black pepper ice cream – we certainly did not get bored with this one. Water calmed it down – well, a little – slightly smoky white peppered strawberries with a balsamic vinaigrette on the nose and milk chocolate with zingy coconut lime and sea salt in the finish.
Drinking tip: If you want to be entertained
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 19th June 2015
81.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)
30 years ago, in a Speyside distillery, a whisky was put to bed in a cask where it slept for 11 years. Some mornings the staff at Strathmill could almost hear it snoring. When it was awake it was quietly lapping the flavour out of the barrel. Eventually the independent bottlers Signatory bought the cask and bottled it up in 1996. The Whiskybase link leads to the full 70cl bottle but I have a miniature, number 2004 of 2460.
Single malts from Strathmill aren’t exactly common but in 1993 Oddbins bottled an expression from 1980 which kick-started independent bottlings from then on. The house style is fruity, spicy, sweet, medium-bodied and fragrant. The whisky is unpeated and usually stored in ex-bourbon casks.
Bought: Whisky Galore, 6th March 2015
88.75/100 – Whiskybase (based on 10 member votes)
Having really enjoyed the Glendronach ‘Revival’, which I tasted in 2014, I was browsing on the ‘The Whisky Shop’ website when another Glendronach caught my eye. It was a cask strength, limited release of a 2003 11yo. Unfortunately it had sold out. Damn! But it was £60, so quite expensive. A few days later I got an email from Whisky Galore (also known as ‘The Green Welly Stop’), which mentioned their 50th Anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, they had a special bottling of Glendronach, 2003, 11yo. It was practically identical to the bottle on ‘The Whisky Shop’ with a similar limited release (649 bottles) and cask strength. But it was under £50 and came with a commemorative engraved Glencairn glass! A bargain I couldn’t resist.
Scoring 88.75/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score, especially when you consider that the legendary 15yo ‘Revival’ scores a point less. But saying that the standard 12yo ‘Matured in Sherry Casks’ scores a healthy 88.34/100. Looking at the whole Glendronach range from the distillery on Whiskybase clearly shows that scoring around 90/100 is very typical. The distillery clearly has its fans and my Whisky Galore example is a good one.
Bought – Whisky Galore, 1st August 2013
81.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
If I’d got the ‘Whisky Bible 2013’ before I ordered this Scapa I probably wouldn’t have bought it. Although 81.5/100 still falls into the catagory of “good whisky worth trying” Jim Murray says of it “not in the same league as previous incarnations”. Oh well, it’s Scapa and it’s bottled by Gordon & MacPhail so it’s bound to be good stuff. By the time my ability to taste whisky is as refined as Mr Murray’s this bottle will be long since empty.
Bought – Demijohn, 4th September 2013
Quote about the whisky from Demijohn: “This delightful single malt whisky is from cask no. 317, filled on 12th December 2001. It is one of the first few casks produced by Armstrong Brothers’ Raymond and Colin at their Bladnoch Distillery after taking ownership from United Distillers in 2000.”