The Singleton of Dufftown (12 year)

After a reasonably positive experience (especially at this same price-point) with The Singleton of Glendullan 15 year, I thought maybe I was heading for the discovery of another hidden gem with this 12 year-old Singleton of Dufftown. There’s also something exhilarating about tasting whisky from a distillery that you’ve never experienced before… a treat that becomes rarer the longer you engage in this hobby. While disappointment (or, more likely, indifference) is possible, at least you can mentally ‘check off’ another distillery.

Dufftown is the name of a town in the Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands. The town itself is home to a number of distilleries including Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Mortlach, and others. This means that the name of this particular bottle could be translated as “a single malt made in a town where a lot of other single malts are also made”. I guess that doesn’t ring enough to make the Diageo marketing materials. Dufftown is, in fact, a small distillery in the town of Dufftown, with the official name of “Dufftown-Glenlivet Distillery” which does nothing to alleviate the confusion (it refers to the valley – glen – of the river Livet, not the Glenlivet Distillery). The Diageo-owned distillery has six stills and was established in the 1890s. The range includes a number of NAS malts, as well as a 15-year, 18-year, 21-year, and 25-year. This 12-year is aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and “European oak” casks, which could mean a lot of different things. It’s bottled at 40% ABV.

Diageo uses this “Singleton” (which is an out-of-circulation word that refers to a whisky so rare that a broker had only one single barrel in stock) brand to market under-the-radar malts that it owns and is trying to turn into international powerhouses through sheer will (and marketing budget) alone. For some reason known only to the marketing prodigies at Diageo, the Singleton brand was launched to aim a different low-visibility distillery at each continent of distribution. That meant The Singleton was Glendullan to North America, Glen Ord to Asia, and Dufftown to Europe. Apparently they’ve done away with this “strategy” and will be distributing all three Singletons to all markets.

I have read – and I’m not sure I believe this – that The Singleton was recently the fifth best-selling brand of single malt scotch in the world. News to me.

Nose: Bubble gum. Dense fruit punch aromas, Red Vines, and a hint of anise. A rest in the glass neither adds nor removes anything from the equation.

Palate: Thin body. Sweet again, with the same gum and punch notes. Orange taffy, vanilla, and cream soda. Negligible tongue burn. Sweet and fruity, but lacks complexity.

Finish: Short. The fruits have become faint, but the candy flavors (corn syrup) remain. Fades very quickly without additional notes.

With Water: The addition of a few drops of water initially shocks the aroma, washing out all of the fruit. It comes back slowly, and without a noticeable change. The flavor and finish are the same, with the addition of a green apple note. Water optional, but not needed.

Overall: The very definition of one-dimensional. This absolutely smells and tastes like alcoholic fruit punch. On the upside, there are no off-notes, no bitterness, and no “paint thinner” notes that often accompany inexpensive malts. On the downside, there is a total lack of complexity that, aside from the initial fruity surprise, leaves the drinker wishing for something more. You can definitely do better at this price-point, with the aforementioned Glendullan 15 or even your standard Glenlivet 12, Glenfiddich 12, or Glenmorangie 10.

The Singleton of Dufftown (12 year)
40% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $35 - $45
Acquired: (30ml sample bottle) Master of Malt.

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  • The Business Class lounge at the Toronto airport had this stuff hanging around as all-you-can-drink. As compared with the Canadian Club/Smirnoff/Red Label/Jack Daniels alternatives? No complaints.

  • Hi there,
    imo there is only one Singleton of Dufftown that has some substance the 18 yo.
    Not build in that way Diageo made the character of the Dufftown malts to fillers for their various blends. Fillers is an ugly word in the whisky business I know but the Dufftown malts are all very light if not to say insubstancial.
    Diageo set out in 2015 to have the best selling single malt in the world – with the three brand The Singletons concept. Never mind that three different malts can not be the best selling single malt – sic!


  • The preceding review is very generous. I tasted this first and liked it so I bought a bottle. Totally different. Just harsh sawdust from start to finish. Doesn’t even make a palatable rusty nail.

  • There is no reason to spend money on this 12-year-old, and no reason to drink it. It is inoffensive and clinical, alcohol in distilled water, like from a lab. The tiniest trace of flavour; zero personality of any kind.
    I’m no expert, but I enjoy the character of single malts. Not everyone likes the flavour of every single malt, but they all have a distinct personality or they are not single malt.
    This one is blander than any blended whisky I’ve tasted.
    I was given a bottle for Christmas and just opened it as a lockdown treat. I tried it first day, and thought about the next day. It couldn’t have been that bland, could it ? Tried it a second time, and confirmed that it was. I can’t drink it and have disposed of it. First time I’ve ever done that.

  • I greatly enjoyed the subtlety. I prefer this to Glenmorangie 10 or GlenLivet 12, because of the subtlety. Given the choice between this or Glenfiddich 12 I would go with the GF12, though this is nice to throw in the mix as a change.

  • I clicked over to your review of “The Singleton of Glendullan 15” and it actually was not very positive. Are you saying that this one is worse?

    • Good question. Of the two, I preferred the Glendullan 15. I compared it to Glenlivet 15, while I compared this Dufftown to Glenlivet 12. I know, not exactly a deep insight, but it shows where I see them on that particular quality spectrum. In my personal points system (which I don’t publish because they aren’t accurate and the scale varies over time) I scored the Glendullan 7 points higher. They’re both well-priced, but I think the Glendullan performs better. Neither one knocked my socks off.