My whisky of 2018 was the Daftmill Summer Release. A whisky that grew in style and confidence, the more you delved into the bottle. Truth be told, I actually regret not giving it a 9 out of 10 score.
Here we have the sequel, dubbed the Winter Release that reached retailers in February. Disappointingly, many of these Daftmill’s are turning up at auctioneers as I type this. In an era where those with a vested interest proclaim the sheer number of rare and old whiskies that are going under the auction hammer – are they missing the point? Ultimately, it is all about financial greed and making a quick profit. The fact that this is a whisky that many out there would love to try and experience is somehow overlooked. If you don’t have the cash then you can piss off seems to be the message to onlookers.
A common retaliation from auctioneers is that they are bringing these bottles to a wider audience. Many of whom, would not be able to purchase the said bottle. Utter pish. At the end of the day this is all about lining pockets with commission and ensuring prices stay buoyant. Charging a sizeable fee for building portfolios from individuals who have been burned by the wine investment craze and who have descended like a plague of locusts into whisky. Sucked into this vicious circle are the flippers and scalpers who are only as good as their next purchase. Many such purchases they’ll never see, as they go straight to the auctioneers.
At times I don’t know whether to be an inconsolable wreck or a raging inferno of anger. Daftmill is a whisky that Francis and his brother waited over a decade to bottle. None of this rush to bottle at 3 years old and fill the press with benign and insipid reviews. We should show it a little respect and actually open and share the contents; after all isn’t that what whisky is about?
Rather than get mad ladies and gentlemen, I decided to get even.
I’m very fortunate to own the original debut Daftmill release and the Summer bottling. These will be opened next month during my tasting at the Fife Whisky Festival. Over the course of 2 sessions, 24 individuals will be able to compare and contrast the best of what the Fife distilleries have to offer for £35. I’d probably struggle to pick up the inaugural Daftmill now for a reasonable price. Throw into the mix the rarely seen Eden Mill single cask, the inaugural Kingsbarns and a Haig blend from the 1970’s and a great tasting awaits.
This kind gesture wasn’t enough.
Fate presented itself one Friday morning, when the Whisky Barrel put up a handful of Daftmill bottles. These examples had sold out the previous evening, but the retailer had caught the flippers making multiple orders; shameful but not unexpected behaviour in today’s climate. Putting the contraband online once again they didn’t hang around and I was very fortunate to purchase another Daftmill.
The shameful path would have been to drop this off at a local auctioneer. Instead, I wanted to grant the opportunity to experience a Daftmill to someone I knew, deep down, would relish and cherish the experience. What did I do next? With the help of the Whisky Barrel, the bottle was dispatched on the Friday to Rose in California. The delivery man was knocking on her door the following Monday. Personally, I was stunned. It takes the Royal Mail longer to deliver a parcel within the UK than this bottle took to travel 5000 miles. An expected bonus of this bottle flight materialised, as Rose explains:
‘In keeping with #MaltTruth I am so very grateful and taken aback to have received this very unexpected whisky gift from Jason, or Rover as I call him. In fact, it was so unexpected that my husband upon receiving a shipping notification sent me a message inquiring as to what I had bought and shipped via Scotland, this time!
After I’d convinced him and promised that I had done no recent whisky shopping, I tracked down the source of this mystery shipment. Surprise somewhat ruined, but Rover relished the fact that he had almost gotten me into trouble.’
By the Tuesday evening, we were sitting down for a cross-Atlantic tasting and breaking the seal on 2 Daftmill’s simultaneously. A lovely moment and one that reinforced that this gift and motivation was the right thing to do. Life is too short and mere financial greed is tiresome. Whisky should be about sharing and enjoyment. If I’ve shipped a piece of Fife to California and the essence of Daftmill is appreciated, then what price can you put on that? Even now the gesture makes me smile and as a dour Scotsman, not many things achieve that.
Bottled at 46% with an outturn of 1625 bottles. Comprising of 6 bourbon barrels that were filled on the 16th December, Francis tells me I’ve personally tried at least 1 of these in the warehouse several years ago. Time then for our 5000 mile tasting voyage to unfold.
Daftmill 2006 Winter Release – Jason’s review
Colour: A light dulled haze.
On the nose: Oily fruity arrival, waxed lemons and ripe apples. A vortex of aromas with peanuts, melted butter drizzled over popcorn, lime zest, and a nod to Scapa with tinned peaches. Creamy given time. A joyous nosing experience. A minerality beneath it all, washed pebbles or a handful of chalky pebbles. A Fife strawberry field and Scotch rolled oats, which funnily enough are grown in Fife as well. There’s fun within here and an old memory is triggered of playdough as a kid and a baked apple pastry.
In the mouth: Oily and fruity with ripe meadow treasures are to be expected from a Daftmill, but it is beyond these charactistics is what captives. A well fired short pie crust, sugar cubes and an aniseed finish with a gentle saltiness. Citrus sparkle with pineapples, Kiwi fruit and freshly baked plain cookies straight from the oven. A flash of bitterness from the wood. Vanilla toffee, ginger root and silver needle tea all come and go pleasingly.
Daftmill 2006 Winter Release – Rose’s review
Color: Chamomile tea
On the nose: Summer fruits come bursting out of the bottle upon opening. Im transported somewhere with the essence of squishy overly ripe strawberries being warmed in the sun. Then nostalgia comes creeping in and hits me in the face with my 1980’s Strawberry Shortcake doll, too weird. Here comes more homey feels with baking peach cobbler in the oven, buttery crumble topping and fresh whipped cream with a hint of vanilla bean. Crystallized honey, a touch of cinnamon dusted on gingerbread or it could be plain old graham crackers. Ending with Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider and a slice of honeydew melon.
In the mouth: Lush and oily. The fruits blur into the background somewhat, but still there like a nice dream. The taste of a dry dusty dirt road wakes me up. Hay flying through the warm breeze. Salty caramelized candied peanuts. Burnt pie crust, powdered ginger and anise seed. More unexpected spice on the finish resembling a spice rub containing chili peppers, paprika, salt and rosemary. Then the gentle balance of sweet and savory something like saffron.
Another winner, but a slightly different whisky it must be said. Distilled during the winter of 2006, I’m looking forward to pitching this against the previous 2 Daftmill’s, for an evening of debate and comparison when I’m playing host to John and Rose later in 2019. We’ll enjoy revisiting this Winter bottling, but I know from experience that the Summer edition just has the edge overall. Where the exceptionally rare inaugural bottling stacks up, will ensure a fun few hours in the Rover household.
This Daftmill is a whisky that deserves to be shared and celebrated. Experienced for what it is. The final destination should always be a glass and enjoyment. Hopefully, I’ve encouraged others to be generous and snub financial greed – open your bottles and have some fun. Explore your whisky and create your own experiences and whisky journey. Without such things many out there are preventing others from pursuing their whisky passion.
An excellent Daftmill and just a step behind the summer bottling.
Before owning this bottle or trying any of the whisky within, I was inspired by Daftmill’s hands-on approach. The emphasis on care and preparation, allowing nature to do the work. Treating the whisky like a seedling and not forcing its growth.
I also appreciated when holding this bottle in my hands for the first time, that the farm itself plays a central role. The simple yet beautiful bottle showcases the origins on the label. Single Farm Estate sits proudly at the top of the bottle. No frills needed, thank you very much. So refreshing! To me, it embodies what’s inside of the bottle.
As I nosed this whisky from the start, it had my mind captivated. Painted pictures and took me places, as you might have picked up on in my tasting notes. A completely lovely experience. This emphasizes to me that the hands-on control and patience exercised with the spirit from grain to glass, truly lets the whisky be free.
Lead image by JJ and the fruity Daftmill by Rose. My thanks to Rose for being a good sport and joining me on this whisky voyage.