Our thanks once again to our Patreon supporters who have enabled this piece with their monthly support. Due to this merry band of MALT enthusiasts we’ve been able to bring you the Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2019 and that poor Balvenie 12-year-old single cask release.
For this month, we’re bringing you not 1, but 3 whiskies from Signatory as part of their Un-chillfiltered Collection. After my recent Cadenhead’s article that raised the question of what value in whisky really is? We wanted to bring you a clutch of 2019 bottlings from Signatory and their value-based range.
All of these bottlings are 46% strength, naturally presented and depending on where you shop should be under £40 each. Given these are only just out, hopefully, if something captures your interest, you can track down a bottle or use 1 of the commission links we’ve provided. You’ll know that these never affect our opinion and I’m always amazed that someone out there did purchase the Jura 7 Wood on the basis of our review.
I’d love to say there’s some methodology to our selections but there isn’t. The chance to try a Ben Nevis is always welcome and Miltonduff can be a quality whisky at a young age. As for the Strathisla, well, when was the last time we reviewed a whisky from Speyside’s 2nd prettiest distillery? For all those picturesque looks, it does produce a fairly mundane and forgettable whisky.
Signatory, of course, have been a staple source of good quality independent releases without any thrills. Notorious for their metal tubes that require a crowbar to open (sadly these releases today are cardboard tubes), and in the case of the cask strength range, then trying to pour a consistent measure from that awkward neck. These all add up to part of the appeal with Signatory. Until their release series of anniversary releases, they’ve avoided the bling and just given us good whiskies at a decent price. An approach that should be welcomed. So, buckle up and let’s see what awaits us…
Signatory Ben Nevis 9 Year Old 2010 – review
Colour: amazingly very little colour albeit a slight haze.
On the nose: spent tobacco, apples, spat out orange pips and honeycomb. It is malty and resinous with gorse, limescale and a defunct pineapple. Memories of Lucozade and that Daley Thompson advert are revived, playground sherbet over indulgence, a white tea and sage. Adding water reveals wine gums and hints of tropical fruits that just fail to deliver.
In the mouth: most perculiar with a light stroke from the cask and plenty of spirit. There’s figs, apples and green mango with honeysuckle. Tangerines and almonds follow with a rusty nature on the finish and a degree of soot. Water showcases more rounded fruits, white pepper and white chocolate.
Signatory Miltonduff 9 Year Old 2009 – review
Colour: light gold.
On the nose: a gentle honey, very floral with barley sweets and a sugary nature. Lemons, lychees, unripe peaches and margarine. Also a creamy vanilla and clementines. Time reveals cinnamon and caramel and water delicate fruits.
In the mouth: feels a touch higher in strength, apple strudel, icing sugar and a noticeable sharpness. Digestives, white chocolate and more vanilla. Pears, nougat follow and the realisation that water offers no tangible benefit.
Signatory Strathisla 10 Year Old 2008 – review
On the nose: light and it must be said a touch spirit based. Familiar notes of apples and lemons are followed by jasmine and biscotti. Jacob’s crackers, dried orange, pineapple cubes (from a sweetie shop), crushed digestives and apricot. With water talcum powder, flint and pears come through.
In the mouth: Kiwi fruit, olives and vanilla cream. A sweet pastry dough, green apples and green mango move us into palm sugar. Water has a real tangible effect delivering more fruit in a joyous transformation.
First time around, I pegged the Ben Nevis a much lower score. Then, I started returning over the course of a few days and it grew a certain je ne sais quoi. The sherry influence is subtle almost miniscule and this lets the distillate step into the breach.
In fact you could make a strong case for saying this is the most un-sherried whisky of 2019.
What we have isn’t a classic vintage like 1996 and it doesn’t quite stack up on the palate. However, there’s a charm here and the sense of something different; rugged and truly Highlander in liquid form. I’m enjoying it more than expected.
The Miltonduff was the most anticipated but ultimately the most disapointing. The Strathisla is a solid whisky and much better than the staple official release. A good starter dram, or easy drinker; it showcases the benefit that water can bring when added in the right quantity. A widespread trio from Signatory, which showcases the hit and miss nature of the range.