Another of Scotlands’ sadly closed grain distilleries in the form of Dumbarton. For many year’s this was used in the Ballantine’s blend and never saw an original distillery bottling. Indies have got you covered though – there’s been over a dozen well-aged expressions bottled in the last 2 years. This Claxton’s bottling is no exception – 32 years in an ex-bourbon barrel and bottled at 57.1% ABV. Only 96 were produced at a cost of £144.99.
Nose: Surprisingly ungrain-like with little overt acetone or glue aromas - instead, rich chocolate, Happy Shopper cola, oaty cereal bars, mahogany, teak oil, marzipan and coconut shavings. The addition of water restores expectations with some nail polish, popcorn and buttered toast. But, you know what – I really rather liked this when it diverged from the norm.
Taste: Evidently well-aged with polished wood panelling, teak oil, creosote, spent coffee grounds and dusty armchairs. Supporting, is a more mainstream selection of grain flavours – toasted cereals, caramel, whole-grain bread and a developing back-palate earthiness. Dilution lessens some of the ages notes, adding in younger flavours of vanilla and coconut – again, I’ll take this at 57.1% please.
Finish: Long and very woody, but just about all in check – chocolate, coffee beans, almonds, and sugar dusted cereals.
Seriously good and reasonably priced well-aged grain – sign me right up. There’s a rich and deep intensity here (especially at full strength) that eschews many of the more obvious aromas and flavours that are associated with the grain category. Colour me impressed.
Review sample provided by Claxtons