When I look over The Dramble annuls (now 1,136 reviews strong) there are a range of distilleries who have been under our spotlight more often than others. Musings and reviews on Bunnahabhain, Tobermory (largely Ledaig focussed) and Laphroaig account for a shy under 10% of our total review coverage. And that’s likely a fair reflection of my drinking preferences, as well as the concentration of the samples that have been provided to me for writing about. But these numbers are also a (rough) reflection of the output of distilleries that manifest themselves into current day OBs and IBs.
Whilst The Dramble does occasionally like to dig into historic bottlings, it’s not our main focus (more an occasional, insightful treat for me) – therefore, our review corpus is generally tied into what distillers and bottlers are producing for the market right now. And there’s a few lower numbers there – including from Speyside’s Macduff.
Whiskybase notes 41 Macduff bottlings in 2020. None produced by the distillery itself – most single cask offerings – and most requiring importation into the UK to get hold of. Outside of the what was once regular sightings of Glen Deveron in global travel retail (when that was more of a thing) – Macduff just doesn’t seem to cross my table with anywhere near the frequency of other distilleries’ expressions.
And that’s a shame as whilst much of Macduff’s output is destined for blending into Dewar’s and Russia’s largest imported spirit brand – William Lawsons – of the expressions I’ve sampled (most of which are not documented on this site – admission: I drink much more than I write!), I’ve regularly enjoyed the nicely weighted, crisp and fruity spirit style – particularly when matured in refill ex-bourbon casks. Perhaps 2021 begs a more concerted effort into obtaining, sampling and writing more about this relatively modern distillery?
Batch 10 of Boutique-y’s Macduff offering is a release of 1,024 bottles (I've used an image of a previous batch) that consists of a large parcel of refill ex-bourbon hogsheads (yay). Alongside Batch 9 I’ve not see this release for sale anywhere as yet – though I suspect that should you find it’ll come in at a similar price to Batch 8 (£59.95) – a bottling that we reviewed as part of our 2019 Advent calendar run down. The release is delivered at 52% ABV and comes adorned with a typically Boutique-y label illustrating a deleted scene from The Scottish Play which took place before Macbeth headed off to spend some quality time with Duncan. Drunken Monkey style.
Nose: Crunchy toffee apples are joined by a selection of caramel wafers and bourbon biscuits. Freshly brewed coffee and cream is served with vanilla crème patisserie and white grape yoghurt, whilst honey is drizzled over bright cereals – chocolate covered Rice Crispy clusters and griddled barley cakes. Dilution reveals a grassier aspect with reed and flax alongside darker, bitterer chocolate and dry-roasted nuts.
Taste: Crisp apple slices and apple doughnuts sit with orange and lemon sponge cake served with a side of whipped cream. Nougat and toffee sweetness are offset by a gentle mineral bite, whilst cocoa powder is sprinkled over cornflakes cakes, oatcakes and ripe, golden barley. Spicing develops throughout – dry and peppery. The addition of water offers additional orange notes with Jaffa Cakes alongside syrupy peach slices.
Finish: Medium - peppery whilst retaining the heart of bright cereals and tender toffee.
The word on the Boutique-y grape vine is that batches of Macduff don’t tend to hand around too long. And it’s easy to fathom why when whisky is simply this tasty. Strong distillery character paired with a gentle maturation in ex-bourbon casks is always a winner, and here the amalgamation works a treat with a lovely selection of cereals, baked good and sweet fruitiness. Well worth keeping an eye out for.
For an alternative viewpoint, head over to OCD Whisky to see what Sorren thought.
Review calendar provided by Atom Brands