Boutique-y Advent 2021 - Door 4
Posted 05 December 2021 by Matt / In Macduff
Bottle Name: Macduff Batch 8
Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company
Glass Weight: 500g
Few outside of enthusiast circles have heard of Macduff Distillery. For starters, much of the site’s production goes into blends – both for the well known Dewars, and also for the less well known (in the UK at least) William Lawsons – Russia’s largest imported spirit brand. But the distillery’s wider anonymity also stems from its practice for not using its actual name loudly and proudly as the overaching brands of its released single malts. Instead bottles feature 'The Deveron' for the distillery's OB age statement range and 'Glen Deveron' for the producer's global travel retail range.
It's a strange one. Most distilleries who are pernickety about naming tend to preserve their distillery name and insist that indy bottlers follow or devise new conventions. Macduff does the opposite. Why? Don't know.
Whisky devotees will have doubtless had more exposure to this modern style distillery than casual drinkers. It was constructed in 1960 - like many distilleries of the age, to meet the demands of the post-war boom. It sits on the banks of the River Deveron (so the naming is not entirely random) - and at one point neighboured the regularly explosive Banff distillery - which managed four detonations in a shy over 80 years. That accident prone site finally closed in 1983.
There’s a wealth, but not a glut of independently bottled Macduff - most of the oldest expressions have been released by Douglas Taylor who seem to have invested heavily in the distillery’s stocks. Well, we know that the distillate sits nicely within the heart of a blend - so there's likely going to be a variety of uses for any maturing stock. Whereas when it comes to Glen Deveron, there’s been a swathe of vintage releases since 1978, and then in 2015 the launch of the ‘Royal Burgh Collection’- a travel retail trio of 16, 20 and 30 year old Macduff single malts. We reviewed the 30 year old a few years back - it's a bit of an odd duck.
‘The Deveron’ was launched as the distillery’s non-duty free single malt range in 2015 and consists of a 10, 12 and 18 year old. All well-priced for their relative ages, but not particularly well-known, or particularly well-regarded either - which is a shame, as in my opinion the quality of the spirit produced at Macduff is very decent. For time being though, until the producer rethinks their single malt offering, you're likely going to find the better examples of this Highland spirit via indy releases.
And that's exactly what we have for Door 4 of the Boutique-y Advent calendar 2021 - Batch 8 Macduff 10 year old. The release consists of 1,160 bottles at 50.2% ABV. It is sold out in the UK as best as I can tell, but still available from Scotland-and-Malts in Germary for 58,90 EUR. For alternative views on this whisky, once you’re done here do head over to visit Sorren at OCD Whisky and Brian at Brian's Malt Musings.
Nose: Crunchy nougatine and salted caramel sit alongside fluffy marshmallows, crumbled chocolate and milky coffee. Gooseberry provides some tartness, whilst a vein of minerality lurks in the background – salinitity, hewn rock and a touch of flintiness. Dilution expresses a fruitier aspect which favours orchard fruits - green apples and pear juice, alongside hand candy sweets.
Taste: Cooking and cider apples arrive sweetly, but gradually sour through the development. They sit with underlying creaminess (which has a pleasant texture element along for the ride) from iced buns, filled scones and hot cross buns, whilst toffee sauce is liberally poured atop. Again, minerality prowls - limestone and quartz with a handful of cooper coins. Water makes for a softer approach and landing – peaches join apples and gingerbread and nutmeg join cream cakes. All very pleasant.
Finish: Medium with souring apples sitting against damp grasses and fermenting ale.
Boutique-y’s 8th batch of Macduff is rather the success (I can see why it picked up awards at the Scotch Whisky Masters). It offers a solid and tasty contrast between sweet and sour fruits and patisserie and baking - all punctuated by welcome underlying coastal character. This background maritime note is unlikely to derive from Macduff’s near coastal location (as romantic as that would seem), but it nevertheless grounds the entire whisky quite effectively. An older release that's not as easy to find as it once was - but yet more evidence that indy Macduff is worth spending some time with.
This piece was originally posted on the 17th December 2019. It has had a little edit.
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