I’ve been unspeakably rude to Shiv of London Whisky Club as it’s taken me a long time to review this sample of Daftmill he sent me. But Daftmill is a distillery and whisky I know very little about. The only thing I know about it is how new it is and how expensive it gets in the secondary market. So, it’s taken a while for my mind to brew the ideas in my mind to distill into words for this article. Along with this Daftmill sample were a couple of Bimber samples which I really enjoyed.
As some of you have noticed, I’m a whisky lover turned rum bum. This started sometime 2017 after stumbling upon the magic of Tiki and the vast diversity of rum. Digging deep into the rum rabbit hole sort of made me go on a whisky hiatus until about 2019. Apparently, it was during this period that Daftmill started releasing their whisky. I only heard of this through local whisky geeks who got a bottle of it. My initial thought was, is Daftmill a closed distillery I’ve never heard of?
Honestly, the “mill” part made me think of Littlemill. But it’s apparently a farm to glass lowland single malt distillery. Upon hearing lowland, I thought to myself “who the hell would want lowland single malt? The surviving distilleries make such boring whisky. This sounds like it’s going to be another boring new and boring distillery riding the craft train”.
I decided to try this as blind as I can be. The only facts I know are this is a new distillery and fetches crazy auction prices. Even though I was curious why people were going daft for this whisky, I didn’t do any research for Daftmill until I finished my tasting notes. Am I being too cynical? Or will my cynical self be proven wrong? I don’t mind being proven wrong by the way. It’s a reminder that I still have much to learn. Much to learn means room for more growth.
Daftmill Inaugural Release 2005 – review
Bottled in 2018 at 55.8% abv. Aged in 1st fill ex-bourbon casks. 12 or 13 years old.
Color: Chamomile tea.
On the nose: Very expressive ethanol burn with scents of lemons, peppers and mint at the back. After getting past the ethanol, I get pleasant zesty scents which change into an alternating mix of peaches, apple juice, peppermint, unripe banana, white tea, chamomile tea and thyme. At the end are undertones of honey, vanilla and pineapple rind.
In the mouth: Very herbal upfront. This makes me think of chamomile tea steeped with thyme and sage with a slice of dehydrated lemon peel. After that are undertones of cinnamon, vanilla, honey and pineapple syrup. A second tip brings more tastes that remind me of smoothened wood, white tea, lemon peel oil and something green and peppery. The green flavor makes me think of the pineapple leaves and pandan leaves. At the end are peppermint, pears with the skin, green apples with hints of coffee and cacao.
The first thing that shocked me is the color. It’s very light for a spirit aged first-fill ex-bourbon casks. If I hadn’t known this was aged in ex-first fill, I would have assumed this was second or third fill. This has me wondering if the ex-bourbon casks used to age the Daftmill stock held bourbon for a long time. The old bourbon may have taken most of the color from the oak.
Expensive bottles almost always attract the speculators and hype beasts even if they know little about the product. I checked the online prices for this. Whiskybase says the average cost of this in the secondary market is close to €1000. Luckily, I didn’t need to pay this much to try this. If I paid that much for this whisky, I would have given it a 4 or 5. I was also told the SRP for this was £210 when it originally came out. I think that’s reasonable for a farm to glass and no-nonsense single malt. I saw some online distillery tour videos and reviews of other offerings, the impression I got is the owners are straight shooters. I mean, most new distilleries don’t wait for 12 years before coming up with their inaugural release, which thankfully reflects on their product.
I’d like to own a bottle of Daftmill one day. I like this style of whisky. It’s not similar to the better-known lowland single malts. This makes me think of Littlemill where the distillate is very expressive except it’s not as funky. If the style of this inaugural release is consistent with the succeeding ones then I can say this is not a single malt for beginners and/or bandwagoners. Drinkers who think “smooth” whisky such as the ones bottled by the massively distributed Glens and Macallan are the best, will not like this. This is something for the drinkers of distillate-forward whisky like Springbank or independently bottled Mortlach or Clynelish or Edradour.
Photograph supplied by Rover.