There’s no Deveron distillery. That’s the first thing you should know. There is a River Deveron, however, which is where the new whisky gets its name. Instead this new range, part of the Last Great Malt range, hails from Macduff distillery. To confuse matters even more, we should note that this The Deveron is not Glen Deveron whisky, either, although both originate from Macduff. And nor does any of this have anything to do with whisky blenders Macduff MacDuff International Limited(!) which is named after Stuart MacDuff.
Glad that’s all cleared up.
Macduff distillery, located on the far Eastern region of Speyside, was designed by distillery architect William Delmé-Evans, who had a forward-thinking “concern for energy efficiency and conservation” in his plans. Macduff began distilling whisky in 1960 (but for some reason a couple of books I’ve read state 1962). At some point Diageo’s predecessor, DCL, had already bagged the Macduff trademark, which led to the development of Glendeveron or Glen Deveron. Though originally the Macduff spirit was destined for blends, the Glen Deveron range – which was later under the ownership of William Lawson Distillers (who were in turn owned by Bacardi) – proved to be popular as single malts in Italy and France. (Due to corporate acquisitions and mergers in the late 1990s, Bacardi had replaced the Lawson name – and in 1995 Macduff became part of Dewar’s.)
It should be known that Macduff distillery is no little artisan whisky-maker. It pumps out a mighty 2,400,000 litres of spirit a year, and uses two wash stills and three spirit stills, which is a rather unusual set-up. Equally as interesting, as Tom points out in his write-up of the distillery, there are upward-tilting condensers reaching out from the wash stills. (Pure whisky nerdism, but you don’t see it very often.)
That brings us to Bacardi’s Last Great Malts range, where the whisky from Macduff distillery once again makes its way to a glass near you – only this time it’s known as ‘The Deveron’. And having learned lessons from the past, that name is now a registered trademark. The packaging is great – with frosted glass bottles and wonderful typography on the labels (design is something that the whole of the Last Great Malts range has done very well).
Today we’ve got two new whiskies from The Deveron, skipping past the entry-level 10 years old and going straight into the slightly older whiskies.
The Deveron 12 Years Old
In the mouth: 40% ABV is enough here. Very flavoursome for the strength, if a little two-dimensional. Plenty of esters, with a bold note of green apples and minerality. Cereal grist. Flashes of toffee and maybe ground almonds. A very dry finish, with tannins. Quite a nice texture, too, akin to a blend, which makes it very approachable as an entry-level dram. Classic flavours, expressed very well, and at £40 it’s a good price. I think it should do very well.
The Deveron 18 Years Old
Colour: deep gold. On the nose: remarkably different. Revolution rather than evolution, on the first impression. Big notes of fudge and sultanas. Dried apricots. Tinned fruit in syrup. And, once it settles, more of the freshness from the 12, and it’s largely in the form of green apples again.
In the mouth: yeah, it’s really nice actually. Dried fruits, but very mellow. Redcurrants – quite tart, in fact, rather than super sweet. Warming ginger. Definitely more cereal grains coming back here (don’t know if you’ve ever chewed wheat grains from the field). A nice mixture of sweet and sour flavours, so it’s well-balanced. If you like the more gentle Glenfarclas whiskies then this might be of interest to you.
But, I really felt this should have been bottled at 43% ABV – and it’s not often I say that as I’m quite happy with the lower strength whiskies given enough time in the mouth. It wasn’t keen to share its identity with me. It’s like speaking to someone at a party, but they ask all the questions of you and you never get to know much about them. This whisky still feels like a stranger.
I’m still searching for a price on this, which may change what I think. If the rest of the range is anything to go by, you’d be looking at over £100. If that is the case, I would think this is too much, but I’ll withhold judgement until I know for certain.
UPDATE: the Whisky Shop now has this at £65, which is probably a little more expensive than it would be elsewhere. Now that is a very good price – much more sensible from the range. In fact… I might get myself a bottle next month.
Both fine whiskies. Both tasty whiskies. But, as with my experience of the Royal Bracklas, there were no exciting whisky thrills to be found here. The distillery is pitched as something gentler, and that certainly holds true. However, I think it’s a bit of a shame that the Last Great Malts range ends with a bit of a whimper rather than a bang. For now I’ll be sticking with the more spine-tinglingly good Aultmore and meaty Craigellachie, which are the outstanding drams of the range.
Note: as you can see from the photo, these tasting notes were based on samples that were sent to me.