Well, as my first Miltonduff was pretty good I figured I’d open a recently purchased independent bottling and taste a bit right after so as to make a direct comparison to an official bottle. This one is in Signatory’s Cask Strength Collection and is a single cask selected by K&L in California. I’ve generally liked all the K&L selections I’ve had in the last few years so I’m optimistic.
Miltonduff 18, 1995 (56.9%; bourbon barrel #4115; from my own bottle)
Nose: Not quite as expressive as the 14 yo; not quite as much fruit at first nosing. It’s a freshly opened bottle though, so let’s give it some time. Okay, with a few minutes to breathe it does open up a little: there’s more vanilla now and more musky, malty sweetness; fruit too but it’s more tightly coiled. Water should help, I’d think, but let’s take a sip or two first. Ah yes, with water it’s much brighter–more lime now and more vanilla and cream and a little malty/sweaty sweetness.
Palate: Very drinkable at full strength just as the 14 yo was but again not quite as expressive. There’s lime peel and pepper and some apple and some vanilla but it feels a little tight. With more time there’s more honeyed fruit and the lime expands too. Okay, time to add water. As on the nose, water makes this much brighter and more acidic; more peppery too. After a bit it’s sweeter too but there’s also a leafy/herbal note now and there’s more of an orangey note too.
Finish: Medium. Vanilla, mostly and then later more malty sweetness. With water the malty sweetness trumps the vanilla and the finish gets longer.
Comments: This may possibly have suffered from close juxtaposition with the OB 14 CS, and also from the fact that these notes were taken very soon after the bottle was opened. At any rate, I didn’t really get any of the phenolic and earthy notes that K&L describe in their notes–seems like a fairly standard-issue fruity bourbon cask Speysider to me with a malty weight to round it out. Much better with water. On the whole, good value for money but nothing great. Then again, it may improve with time. Still, this makes two good Miltonduffs out of two. So much for reputation.
Addendum: I tasted this again last night before finalizing this review, about a month after the bottle was opened. And I didn’t find any changes worth noting and nor did I find the phenolic/earthy notes this time around either.
Rating: 85 points.