Whenever you’re visiting a branch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society it pays dividends to get to know the staff and simply ask what they’re enjoying this month.
These monthly (or weekly?) outturns from the Society are a relentless runaway locomotive. At times you find yourself being pulled in different directions whether its down to the distillery, the type of cask, pricing or even the often bizarre tasting notes the Tasting Panel conjure up. Somehow you’ve got to filter through the bottlings to find the one that matches your palate and desire. Needless to say it can be a hazardous and difficult exploration in search of whisky goodness.
This Miltonduff bottling is such a release and one I would have normally overlooked if it wasn’t for a staff recommendation. A quick nosing from the bottle and noting that the wine cask wasn’t a finish but rather a full maturation prompted my decision to purchase. In fact 3 drams were purchased for our Roundtable 2016 discussion which you can read about and listen to right here. This whisky makes an appearance around 73 minutes if you want to skip ahead.
Miltonduff isn’t a familiar name to many whisky enthusiasts as it’s another one of these relatively under the radar Speyside workhorse distilleries. Situated near Elgin in Morayshire, it’s currently owned by the Chivas Brothers and mainly supports the Ballantine blends. Established in 1824, Miltonduff did enjoy some of the single malt spotlight in the 1980’s but has since slipped back into the undergrowth.
For 17 years the distillery became a distillery-within-a-distillery having fitted a set of Lomond stills that produced the Mosstowie whisky. This is a rarely seen whisky with independent bottler Signatory being the main source of what casks have existed. You can read a review of a Mosstowie release here and we’ll see if Chivas ever release it officially. Slowly but surely, the parent company is going around their workhorse distilleries and highlighting their wares via their Cask Strength Edition range.
Bottled at 11 years old and a mighty strength of 60.7% vol, resulting in 264 bottles from a 1st fill ex-white wine hogshead. This would set you back around £49 if it hadn’t already sold out online. You can appreciate the colour in the photograph above with it being the dram on the right.
Nose: its an onslaught of fruit peel, toasted pecans and caramel. More sweetness with maple syrup, roasted tomatoes (yep) and a bourbon vanilla current. With water custard creams and cranberries arise.
Taste: ginger cake and golden syrup with a very appealing texture across the palate. More pecans with milk chocolate and honey. There is a savoury aspect here verging on meaty and the cask hasn’t swamped the whisky and transformed it into a sweet shop overload. Brown toast, caramelised sausages with a stick honey glaze; its all good.
Overall: sometimes it pays to seek out that independent and impartial opinion. Otherwise this Miltonduff would have slipped under my radar and for £49.60 it’s worth trying if you can find a bottle.