Miltonduff 14, 1997

Miltonduff 14Miltonduff is in the Speyside and is one of Chivas Bros.’ workhorse distilleries, producing mostly for blends–in particular for the very popular Ballantine’s*. I don’t think there are very many official releases around of the single malt, and a lot of what has been put out by the indies has got it a spotty reputation. This particular release is from Chivas Bros.’ series of limited edition 500 ml cask strength bottles that are theoretically meant to be available at the distilleries only–at least that was the case when the series was inaugurated, I believe. There have been releases in this line from Glenlivet, Longmorn and Glenburgie among others, and they’ve generally been very well reviewed. As I’ve never had anything from Miltonduff before I’m hoping this means that my introduction to this distillery is going to be a good one.

*Can you, without googling, name the Tom Waits song that mentions a character who “knew that he’d be ready with a stainless steel machete and half a pint of Ballantine’s each day”?

Miltonduff 14 CS, 1997 (58.3%; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Ah yes, this is rather nice. Malty sweetness, apple and pear juice, a little bit of honey and some toasted wood to boot. After a minute the juices get slightly fermented/musky and there’s just a hint of lime too. Gets quite rich with time as some vanilla emerges as well and the fruit is more than slightly musky now. Let’s see what water does. Hmmm is that the faintest hint of smoke? I think I may have imagined it. At any rate, not much change with water

Palate: As on the nose but there’s more lime here and it’s generally brighter. A bit of pepper too with the toasted wood. Very nice texture and remarkably drinkable at full strength. Not much change with time, except the pepper expands and provides a nice counterpoint to the sweeter fruit. Water brings out more lime and more pepper and a dusty aspect in the wood.

Finish: Shorter than expected. Not much development at first. Then some lime and slightly rawer and spicier wood than on the nose or palate. Finish lengthens with water–more pepper and spicy wood at first and then gets a little bit astringent with time.

Comments: This is really quite good. There’s not a whole lot of development on the nose or palate but I don’t mind as I quite like what there is. The finish I’m not crazy about and that’s what pulls this down a bit for me. An auspicious introduction to Miltonduff though and I hope it’s not all downhill from here.

Rating: 87 points.

Thanks to Florin for the sample!

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