Those of you who start your day with quick check of the latest whisky news and reviews are probably used to seeing a diverse selection of features and opinions. Today you might find things are a little more focused – in particular on the newly released Singleton of Dufftown Malt Master’s Selection. The Dramble along with some 30 other writers, bloggers and vbloggers are taking part in a whisky ‘flash blog’, organised by Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire – effectively this means, we’ll all be posting up our reviews and tasting notes simultaneously.
Enthusiasts (myself included) often like to gain a wide variety of options on new bottlings before making purchasing decision – style and taste preferences being an extremely varied thing. So, today’s flash blog makes things a little easier for you all – as they’ll be a host of opinions on the new Malt Master’s Selection all a click of a button away.
Announced last month and already being stocked in a variety of outlets here in the UK, The Singleton Malt Master’s Selection is described as ‘a more delicate, slightly sweeter take on the classic Speyside style’. Many of you will have tried Singleton bottlings before – indeed, The Singleton of Dufftown 12 year old is commonly regarded as a ‘starter’ or ‘gateway’ whisky – it possesses a very typical (and accessible) Speyside profile is commonly available, reasonable priced, and an ideal introduction to the wider whisky world. The Malt Master’s Selection joins the wider Singleton stable, which also includes the Singleton of Glen Ord and Singleton of Glendullan (those with longer memories might also remember the long defunct Singleton of Auchroisk) all of which are part of the Diageo Reserve portfolio.
The entire Singleton range has recently undergone a brand refresh - nothing overly radical – new packaging and simplified labelling making for a cleaner, and more modern design. However, as part of this refresh, existing NAS expressions Tailfire, Spey Cascade and Sunray are all being discontinued – no doubt, we’ll learn about what will be replacing them shortly. The Malt Master’s Selection joins The Singleton brand as part of this wider refresh, with an aim (like many current new launches) to be perceived as ‘welcoming and engaging’. Rather vague and slightly fluffy no doubt, but taking a look at the current wider marketing around this whisky, the bottling is clearly being positioned to attempt garner appeal outside of what might be seen as the traditional market for single malts. The market is increasingly saturated with whisky which appeal to the purists – served neat, and consumed slowly. What about consumers who prefer their drinks longer, or who’ve not really explored the whisky category?
Similarly to the Haig Club Clubman, The Malt Master’s Selection is being positioned (and indeed I believe has been designed as) both an accessibly introduction to the whisky world, and also as a spirit can be played with – with ice? with soda? in an Old Fashioned cocktail? The Diageo Reserve team have suggested all three of these at launch events. Likewise, the price of this bottling further encourages both entry and experimentation – the RRP is £30, and already you can find this in Tesco for £26, or if you’re particularly middle-class, in Waitrose, but then for a whole pound cheaper at £25.
The bottling itself is an NAS (probably less than 10 years of age given that The Singleton of Dufftown 12 year old is the next bottle in the wider range) and is composed of both European and American oak that has previously held ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and also some ex-wine casks. It’s bottled at 40% ABV. Let’s take a look:
Nose: Immediately sweet with orchard fruits – ripe apples and pears – and also with confectionary – toffee, caramel, honeycomb and pear drops. There’s both grassiness (fresh hay and leaves) and patisserie (almond buns and bread and butter pudding). In the background there’s very light pepperiness, which provides just a touch of bitterness and offsets some of the sweeter aromas.
Taste: Slightly syrupy with a texture akin to tinned fruit salad, this opens similarly to the nose with toffee, and orchard fruits – now a little deeper – toffee apples, and poached pears. There’s a touch of metal here – copper, which hints at some youthful spirit. Bakery flavours again – croissants and vanilla swirls. Maltiness comes through in the mid-palate – at times seeming a slightly sharp, bitter and citrus (combined with our bready/bakery flavours, almost akin to a citra-hop IPA). In the back-palate, grassiness and earthiness is present – reed, flax and some slightly damp soils. Spicing is more prevalent here than on the nose, but is not overwrought – slightly bitter pepper.
Finish: Relatively short with vanilla, grassiness and pepper.
The Singleton Malt Master’s Selection is a sweet, unfussy, easy-going uncomplicated whisky. But, whilst the finish is all too brief and a touch hollow in places, the rest of the components all gel together quite nicely. There are elements of youth here (as one might expect), but they are largely covered through the influence of ex-sherry sweetness. The price vs. quality seems extremely reasonable - both as a potential introductory whisky, but also as a bottling that you’d not be overly worried to mix up and experiment with. Perhaps not a master, but certainly a well-behaved pupil.
Review sample provided by The Whisky Wire