Let me capture your situation and predicament right now, in candid Polaroid style. You’ve been dispatched to the local supermarket, effectively kicked out of the house, apartment, villa, or another badly-painted, sun-bleached structure. Sent on a mission to replenish supplies for the accommodation and family clan who are enjoying a bit of Spanish sunshine this week. Slowly but surely, you’ve managed to navigate the aisles of cured meats, odd-looking breads and non-fried cuisine, before reaching the more familiar territory of the alcohol section.
Now you’re like a fish in water! Except … you’re left bewildered by the whisky offerings. The usual assortment of tanning products glow vibrantly in this darkened corner of the store, i.e. Cardhu, like a beacon, luring passers-by with their fake tales of history and quality. You know that Cardhu is to be ignored alongside the Haig Club, and the Glen Grant Five-Year-Old is a delicate, timid affair. Being a traditional value shopper, (aka tight bastard), you’re immediately drawn towards the local whisky DYC—which is, yes, pronounced “dick.” You snigger at the thought but immediately acknowledge that “dick” is easier to pronounce than Destilerías y Crianza.
This local whisky seems popular, coming in all shapes and sizes with a handful of options retailing for under 20 Euros. Can it be good? The lure of the Cardhu is strong, even at double the price, and it is also a triple purpose whisky: not just for ‘drinking’, it repels local ants and can be used top up your tan. The locals also prefer Glenfiddich, Macallan and anything by Chivas, even viewing Dewar’s White Label as a better option than their local whiskey.
I suppose it brings about the question: should anything Scotch, in foreign markets, be deemed to be from Scotland? I can see the point—the mystique of the world’s greatest wee country, and our national liquid (after Irn Bru) can prove to be a wonderful combination. A double whammy that no other country can match. Except that it’s all complete nonsense. I’d love to know the rough percentage of barley utilised by Scottish distilleries that isn’t grown in Scotland; so even before liquid is distilled, we’re already about as Scottish as a Highland Games show in Los Angeles.
Humour aside, Emma from Todo Whisky actually informs me that many Spanish whisky drinkers look down on Destilerías y Crianza. Perhaps it is because it lacks the picturesque glens and decades of marketing that suggests only Scotland can produce worthwhile whiskies, since we invented the stuff. Okay, I can hear Phil of Springbank-15-Fame interrupting roundabout here, but you get the general point. Intrigued, I asked Emma for more detail on why the Spanish don’t embrace what is a perfectly palatable whisky:
‘The thing is, if you go to a Spanish house, no one will offer a DYC to you. They might have it in the cupboard for cooking, or to mix in parties, but only a few would take it neat. Even though, it is still one of the best-selling whisky brands in Spain.
It’s a thing we Spanish do, saying what we do is worthless or just bad (and then go to Cardhu Gold because… it is Scottish so it must be good). DYC is working hard to change that with these new products – even their slogan works towards changing that concept “Celebremos lo que somos” (Let’s celebrate what we are)’.
An interesting revelation, and perhaps how Scotch is generally perceived abroad, to the detriment of DYC and other distilleries across the globe? Let’s say the unwritten truth here. Just because its produced in Scotland doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best or most flavoursome whisky. There are more interesting, challenging and flavoursome whiskies being produced across the world. Being Scottish means that it will have certain safeguards, thanks to the clandestine clout of the Scotch Whisky Association. However, as we’ve highlighted on MALT across the years, Scottish whisky has been resting upon its laurels for too long, and quality can vary greatly.
I’ve reviewed DYC before, with the 10-year-old and the Pure Malt whisky both receiving solid scores. Each offers substantial value for the contents, which as we’ve pointed out are a fraction of the price of perceivably superior Scotches. Thanks to Emma from Todo Whisky for kindly sending over this DYC duo. We’ll kick off with the 12-year-old that retails for 19.90 Euros before moving onto the limited 15-year-old, which will set you back 29.99 and is the oldest DYC currently on the market.
The 12 is a blend bottled at 40% and forms part of the “Maestros Destiladores” (Masters Distillers) range. It’s matured exclusively in bourbon casks for the majority of its maturation before being finished for an unspecified period in sherry casks. Emma advised that the new look around this release is trying to tap into the ‘craft’ theme for DYC. The 15 is a celebratory release, as the distillery has just turned 60, so something special was required. It slots into the Maestros Destiladores range as well and is a single malt limited to only 12,000 bottles, with the design inspired by Segovian engravings.
DYC 12-year-old – review
On the nose: marmalade and a waft of dark chocolate followed by fig rolls and a little tobacco. It is all gently done. There’s no aggressive sherry influence, and as such, it retains a light summery feel. Almonds follow, as do walnuts, sappy and honeyed with some white pepper on the fringes. A floral aspect. Returning, nutmeg and a sweet pastry dough are noticeable alongside green pineapples that bring a citrus dimension.
In the mouth: less fully-formed, but still enjoyable, with a light caress of sherry alongside caramel, marzipan, wild strawberries; of a creamy nature. There’s shortbread, mashed potatoes, mango, orange peel and apples before a short finish ends the journey.
DYC 15-year-old – review
Colour: golden syrup.
On the nose: very sweet sugars and vanilla with almonds. A honey flapjack, shortbread and ripe apples. A real freshness although not hugely detailed. Toffee and a trace of coconut? Hard to pinpoint. There’s ginger and a chalky nature. Water reveals a faded cinnamon, nutmeg and caramel.
In the mouth: a silky texture that is somewhat pleasing. More ginger and almonds with a delicate redness with strawberries and dried orange. There’s chocolate, drop scones, vanilla marshmallows and more apples. There’s cask char on the finish with some black pepper. Water reveals wine gums and more wood influence.
The strength is a limitation but a reflection of the price point for the 12-year-old. For under 20 Euros, this is a worthwhile purchase and better value than the Scotches you’ll find in the Spanish supermarket. It is a solid blend, and the sherry finish is nicely layered without being too dominant. Ideal for the hot climate.
Whereas the 15 feels more of a celebration release rather than something you’d thoroughly enjoy. It’s solid enough, but lacking that extra sense of fun and complexity of the 12-year-old blend. The 15, as you’d expect is a touch more refined and elegant, but for me a tad boring. It’s also more expensive and limited so it scores a 5 which remains a solid mark here at MALT.
My thanks to Emma for making this article possible, for taking such great photographs and explaining about DYC in the domestic market.