Okay, let’s cut back to the Speyside and stop in at a distillery I don’t know much about and have not tasted very much from: Dufftown. Part of Diageo’s massive portfolio, Dufftown is best known as one of the three distilleries in the Singleton series. I believe the Singleton of Dufftown was originally the one released in Europe, though now all three Singletons are apparently being released in all three major markets (Europe, North America, Asia). It pains me to say that I have not had very positive experiences in the past with the distillery’s output. I scored the Singleton of Dufftown a mere 76 points and a Signatory-bottled 18 yo from K&L didn’t fare very much better at 78 points. This 9 yo was actually distilled two years after that Signatory and was bottled by Gordon & Macphail for Binny’s. I’ve lost touch with Binny’s single cask program since they stopped shipping to Minnestoa (or out of Illinois for that matter) but back in the day I always had a high regard for their picks, especially of bourbon casks. Let’s see if this repays my trust.
Dufftown 9, 1999 (56.4%; Gordon & MacPhail for Binny’s; cask 8787; from my own bottle)
Nose: A lot of fruit, a mix of tart and musky/tropical (mango, pineapple, lime, a touch of passionfruit). Behind it is some musty oak. A little bit of cream emerges with time and the fruit gets more custardy but it’s generally in the same vein. With a few drops of water the citrus turns to citronella and then the musky notes build in the background; the oak is more quiet now.
Palate: Big fruit here too but the oak is more bitter here than musty and there’s a lot of lime zest which trumps the more delicate musky flavours. Quite approachable at full strength but it does have a bit of bite to it that should ease later with air a few drops of water. More fruit on the second sip (tart mango, lime) but the bitter notes keep pace. With more time the bitterness eases somewhat—at least the oak recedes; the lime zest is still present. Ah yes, water pushes the oak back further and knocks the zesty bitterness back as well, pulling out some white pepper instead. The lime is still in the lead but the muskier fruit are behind it.
Finish: Medium. It’s the bitter zest that hangs out the longest here. Longer and fruitier and less bitter here too with water.
Comments: This is quite fruity for a 9 yo whisky. I just wish the oak had been a little less active. Still, a very nice surprise, and much improved with water. Good luck finding something like this for $50 now. I’ll be interested to see if it gets fruitier still with more air in the bottle. Anyway, this is far and away the best Dufftown I’ve had. Here’s to more of this quality!
Rating; 87 points (pulled up with water).