Boutique-y Whisky: Macduff (10 year)

I’ve only once before tasted single malt from Macduff, also from an independent bottler. One always approaches the tasting of a new or unfamiliar distillery as a potential for opening new, exciting doors of previously undreamt flavor… and while sometimes that’s true, I’ve found that more often you realize that the “unknown” distilleries are largely unknown for a reason. They exist to provide malt for blended whiskies because they blend well. They blend well because they have unchallenging, mass-market attributes that don’t compete with the rest of the elements in the blend.

In this case, we have a 10 year-old Macduff from independent bottler That Boutique-y Whisky Company. This sample is from batch 8 and was bottled at 50.2% ABV.

Nose: Enthusiastic aroma of fresh linen, ozone, marzipan, banana cream pie, and overripe (not tart) kiwi. Aromatic, but fleeting and insubstantial.

Palate: Moderate, not quite syrupy, body. A strong (expected) tongue burn is followed by sunflower seed butter and lemon meringue. The palate is very lively, with the tart notes that were missing from the aroma. Moderately sweet, but lacking low-level notes of oak or grain.

Finish: Short. Back to one-dimensional. Dairy cream and leftover lemon from the palate. Ends quickly without evolving.

With Water: A few drops of water don’t seem to affect the aroma. The palate is thinner, but with more tart fruit (pear, kiwi). Water isn’t needed here, but doesn’t hurt. Experiment with it to see what it does for you.

Overall: A flash in the pan that is mostly interesting on the palate. There’s nothing wrong, per-se, in terms of off-notes. However, this is a classic example of why some single malts are better used as components in blends. This Macduff is desperately seeking roundness, longevity, and bass notes. It would blend magnificently with something with heavy malt and wood flavors. Alas, it’s of passing interest by itself. Especially at “Boutique” prices.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

A Speysider owned by Bacardi and often bottled as Glen Deveron. It was built during the whisky boom of the 1960s to capitalize on expanded demand for Scotch. The modern facility is outfitted with relatively high-tech equipment, but remains largely unknown as a single-malt. A large percentage of its production goes into the William Lawson’s blend.
Boutique-y Whisky: Macduff (10 year)
50.2% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $100 (estimated per 750ml)
Acquired: (30ml review sample) That Boutique-y Whisky Company

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  • By the way, this post is a little short because I’m having one of “those weeks” – apologies if you were hoping for something a little more compelling this week. Cheers!

  • SN- the length of your post resembles the length of the finish of this underwhelming dram. I have several Boutique-y bottles that I pulled from the End-of-Bin rack at Binny’s (which BTW almost got them down to reasonable prices comparable to full size bottles from competing independent bottlers). Information is limited relative to what we are used to getting from an independent. Always an age statement, but never a vintage nor cask type nor tasting notes. Doesn’t exactly motivate me to want to run out and secure more. It appears I’m not alone, as even the Binny’s Corporate buyers lament how long the runt-y 500ml Boutique-y bottles sit on their shelves.

    • Yup – I think Boutique-y’s pricing model is off. I sympathize (a little) because I know the independent barrel market is starved for good casks, since distilleries learned they can make more money selling single casks and special editions rather than offloading excess inventory to independents. Still, the price must be justified by the quality. Clearance racks are an excellent way to get access to these bottles – especially if you can find a positive review or two on the ‘web before grabbing one.