Like the A.D. Rattray bottling of Glen Ord reviewed earlier, Macduff is another barely-known distillery operating largely to provide whisky for blending. In this case, the William Lawson’s blend. Independent bottlers serve the whisky lover by providing access to rare or rarely-released whisky, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Without a “standard” expression, these are usually single-casks chosen and aged by the bottler. This means they can vary widely in quality, and require the buyer to rely on the bottler’s reputation.
This bottle, a sherry-finished expression of Speysider Macduff at 10 years of age, uses craft presentation (cask-strength at 59.8% ABV, without added color or chill-filtration).
Distilled 11/15/2000, Bottled 04/05/2011
Nose: Pine. Vanilla, butterscotch. Where’s the sherry?
Palate: Tongue burn is a little rough, like a younger malt. Touches of grape skins and then light sherry (a little like watered-down red wine). Youngish bright red fruits. A little nutty, plum pits?
Finish: Somewhat continues the burn. Not very smooth. Echoes of palate notes, leaving an impression of sugared plums and tannin from grape skins.
With Water: A little more bitterness develops on the finish. Lemon peel, red berries on the tongue. The body becomes a little meaty, which is nicer. Try it with water.
Overall: Not a great introduction to Macduff. It’s hard to say if the few unpleasant notes were a result of cask choice or simply reflect the distillery style. If I had spent $66 on a bottle of this, I might be disappointed. At least it’s cask strength and craft presentation.