Review Stub: Singleton of Glendullan 12 (Dufftown)

While away at a conference this week, I had the opportunity to try Dufftown’s Singleton of Glendullan. Not bad for a whisky that I’ve often passed over in the store, given its reviews across the web. As always, these reviews are a short, and very coarse, first impression.

Nose: The typical vegetal note that I see as “green”, with some added smokiness. Standard speysider apple with sherry. Kind of like an apple cider, with some freshly cut grass. For a first introduction, I quite enjoyed this part. It’s got some sharpness to it that I think some would describe as heat, but it’s not off-putting. In fact, it goes quite well. Perhaps the more tamed alcohol comes from the fact that the bottle was at least 2/3 empty, so there must have been a few months of evaporation.

Palate: Quite chewy for a 40% ABV whisky. Sherry, some bite that reminds me of candied ginger. A little bit of heat that gives a ‘tartness’ to the apple. Very earthy, grassy, with a smokiness that basically adds “toasted” as an adjective to every flavour. Reasonably balanced, but no earth-shattering complexity. A little rough around the edges, and overall not too special.

Finish: and this is where it falls apart. Very short, to almost no finish. Mostly just a rather tart apple.

Grade: C+

A whisky that starts reasonably well, but declines from there. A good experience if you can find it cheap, and if you  really enjoy that vegetal note, as I do.

Because each batch truly is different: Aberlour a’Bunadh (Batch 39)

I had intended to have my reviews all wrapped up for the next few months because the LCBO claimed they still had a couple packs of the “Classic Malts Gentle Collection” (Oban 14, Glenkinchie 12, Dalwhinnie 15)  but alas, their website lies. Instead, having run out of my a’Bunadh 36, I’ve decided to review my newly acquired Batch 39.

Perhaps the big question is, “For batches so close together, are they any different?” This review attempts to add some (subjective) evidence towards answering this question.

Color: Worth noting that this one is much darker than batch 36.

Some Quick Undiluted notes: The absence of heat on the nose is immediately striking. It is only 0.3% ABV lower than batch 36, but it’s gentler on the nose. It is also notably sweeter. The palate is thick and almost sticky, like a mouth full caramel. It coats your mouth and stays there for an extended period of time, long after the alcohol has evaporated. Sherry all over the place, yes, and in that sense it’s mostly one-dimensional in that sense (with hints of other notes that will be augmented by water) but damn if it isn’t fantastic. Other cask-strengths will burn like hellfire without water, but this one just hits you. Much like the ’97 Glenfarclas Family Cask. In that way, they are quite similar.

On to the water… (not much though… I like this one too much the way it is)

Nose:  Cookies. Caramel, loads of sherry (of course), cinnamon, nutmeg, and maraschino cherries. Raisins. Apricots, grapes, and white pepper. Hints of smoke, but not the dark smoke that you get from batch 36. It’s also brighter Christmas-y flavour than batch 36.

Palate: Slightly less chewy, but still thick. Sherry, dark chocolate, maraschino cherries and caramel. Brandy. Ever so slightly smoky. A basket of fresh fruit, much as advertised by the nose.

Finish: Long, comfortably warming, and progressively drying. Musty sherry, hints 0f fresh tobacco and a light smokiness.

Grade: B+

Well, to my palate, the batches are clearly different. Still, this is another excellent a’Bunadh. It’s noticeably sweeter, with a larger basket of fruit than batch 36, but it still has all the great dark chocolate, cinnamon and sherry-bomb oomph you’d expect from an a’Bunadh. It was initially hard to pick a favourite, but the sweeter, gentler nose that’s just so spectacular, leads batch 39 ahead by a nose. (Haha…haha… oh that was terrible). It reminds me a lot of the Glenfarclas 15yo, but with a palate to back up what the nose promises. A bit more mature than the ‘farclas 105, too.

As the cold grows nearer, the a’Bunadh would be an excellent (unpeated) addition to anyone’s winter cabinet. With this, and my Uigeadail, the winter ahead looks plenty warm in these parts.

Marks Update (among other things)

I have updated the mark on the “Glenlivet 16 Nadurra” to an A-. Ralfy was right in saying that when he left the bottle open overnight, it bettered the whisky. I’ve had a half-full bottle sitting here for over a month, and that air really opens up the whisky. This 53% cask-strengther is one of the few that goes well without water when the bottle sits (probably because you lose some of the alcohol). The bonus there is that instead of watering down the flavour, all you’ve lost is the heat.

In other news, I will attempt to keep this blog running with a minimum of one new whisky review each month. I’d like to do more, but of course, whisky is expensive, and we don’t get many 20cl bottles around here.