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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

December 6, 2013


Dufftown thirty years after

I know I've been tasting many new whiskies this year, probably too many in fact, and I feel I've been neglecting the 'old glories'. It's just that old glories can wait, they'll only become even older. However, having both new and old bottlings within the very same session can be fun too. Let's try that again today, with some Dufftown...

Singleton of Dufftown 18 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Singleton of Dufftown 18 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013) Two stars and a half We had only tried the Singleton 12 yo until today, a fair ' introductory' malt. Colour: gold. Nose: relatively soft and quite leafy/leathery at first nosing, while it would rather develop on overripe apples and old walnuts. There's also a little tea and tobacco, before it becomes maltier. No big nose but there's some complexity. Mouth: I like the profile quite a lot, a shame that it's so light and thin. Really feels diluted but the profile itself is quite wonderful indeed, with oranges (both bitter and very fruity), overripe apples, oriental pastries (with honey and orange blossom water) and then a little quince jelly. Touches of crushed bananas. Finish: short, sadly, but love the sultanas and the tea (earl grey). Comments: a superb composition almost murdered with Scottish water. The world needs a cask strength version! Or even 45.8% vol. would do! Loses a good nine or ten points because of its very frustrating weakness on the palate. SGP:451 - 79 points.

Let's go back in time and see what a higher strength can do...

Dufftown-Glenlivet 8 yo (80° proof, OB for Ghirlanda, Italy, +/-1968)

Dufftown-Glenlivet 8 yo (80° proof, OB for Ghirlanda, Italy, +/-1968) Five stars We've already tried several old 8s but never with this label bearing a 'red distillery' (instead of a white one). Geek stuff, I agree, but 80° proof UK means 46% vol... And warning, these old Dufftwons 8 can be either 'meh' or utterly stellar. Colour: straw. Nose: not meh for sure. Old Highlands style in full swing, with great whiffs of shoe polish, metal polish, engine oil, Seville oranges, camphor, soot, ashes and walnuts. Same kind of tobacco as in the current 18. Perfect power. Enough! Mouth: absolutely superb, just like their bros the Blair Athols from the same era could be, although the Dufftowns used to be fatter and less fruity. That's exactly the case here, it's very waxy and kind of petroly, with then a lot of old liqueurs, tars, oils and crystallised oranges and citrons. An unbeatable style. Finish: long, pleasantly sour (towards lemons and green apples), which further 'lifts' it. Wonderful freshness and the aftertaste is unexpectedly salty. A wee bit of mustard too. Comments: fabulous. Now, watch out, the versions at 46% or 80° proof are incomparably better than the ones at 40% or 70° proof. So make no mistake, should you try to find these old bottles. SGP:552 - 92 points.

In theory, we should stop here but the flesh is weak... Will this baby manage to 'climb over' the glorious old 8, despite a lower strength?...

Dufftown-Glenlivet 1963/1977 (70°proof, Berry Bros & Rudd, 26 2/3 FL OZS)

Dufftown-Glenlivet 1963/1977 (70°proof, Berry Bros & Rudd, 26 2/3 FL OZS) Five stars So, only 40% vol. but these bottlings are legendary... And more sherry may do the trick. Colour: mahogany. Nose: philosophical, theological and introspective (to the point, S.!) That translates mainly into roasted chestnuts, furniture polish, chocolate and black raisins, then a whole bag of herbs and dried flowers. Orange leaves, wormwood, chamomile, eucalyptus, honeysuckle... Also a little soy sauce and some iron (old tools). After twenty minutes, we're almost nosing an armful of Habana cigars. An amazing nose, extremely profound and... philosophical. Mouth: the sherry works as an amplifier, as expected. The 40% vol. (probably more like 37% vol. after 35 years in the bottle) feel more like around 43 or 44% vol. And there's a lot of menthol, eucalyptus, camphor and liquorice, which makes this baby as fresh as some lightly sugared Chartreuse (so a very old bottle that got really dry).  I'll spare you the chocolate and all the other flavours, I can hear the anti-maltoporn brigade coming. Finish: all right, it does lose a little steam now, but the profile remains superbly mentholated. Comments: quite stunning despite the low strength, only the finish is a little weak. Malt lovers often mention G&M or Cadenhead when talking about 'the greatest early indy bottlers'. Do not forget BBR! SGP:462 - 92 points.

(with thanks to Olivier)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Dufftown I've tasted so far







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