We approached Dufftown with the chorus of dirty dirty Dufftown ringing in our
ears. Standing in the stillroom it was hard to disagree with The Tormore 4
sentiment that this is a producer of whisky and little more. Appearing ignored, tainted
and industrial within its walls. Although it's more authentic hinting of a
bygone age compared to many of the new distillery structures, where you could move
between the stills without catching yourself on a hot surface, or tripping over
a pipe. In a way, I prefer the old claustrophobic layout none more so than the
still room at Bunnahabhain or Blair Athol, but here at Dufftown it felt soiled.
Dufftown distillery was established in 1896 on the edge of
the famous whisky town, not too far from Mortlach and later on another
neighbour in the form of – and I apologise for swearing here – Pittyvaich. Its
history is pretty benign, passing through a series of owners including Arthur
Bell & Sons before being swallowed up by a series of corporate take overs
that today means Dufftown is now in the Diageo stable.
It’s a major producer of around 6 million litres, working
flat out for the past decade with its spirit destined for blends and the fake
brand of Singleton. Now I say fake because it’s suggestive of a single malt
from a single distillery, but is in fact a combination of producers with
Glendullan and Glen ord. You just have to read the label a little more beyond
the Singleton aspect. Diageo have a cunning plan to make this the world’s
number one single malt, which I’d consider cheating as in reality its several different
malts under one headline. The key aspect is whether upon tasting you’d go back
for more from Glendullan or Dufftown and I’ve yet to meet anyone that actually
holds these Singleton whiskies in any positive light. The Glen Ord,
particularly the export editions of its Singleton are actually not too bad and deserve
What we have here is the Dufftown 12-year-old expression of
the Singleton that I actually purchased after visiting Blair Athol distillery.
I felt kinda dirty and uncouth paying for this sample but I felt inclined to
return to the Singleton for Whisky Rover and to punish myself. Of course, this
could be one of the great whiskies of the year for me, but for Diageo its meant
to be an introductory whisky and is priced accordingly. The Singleton’s are
mass produced and shipped everywhere. The problem with such starter whiskies is
that if they aren’t any good, you won’t be coming back for more or investigating the
Nose: a gentle assortment that really requires some coaxing to open up the oranges and varnish. Then there's cream crackers, with a little appearance of walnuts followed by a waft of
pineapple and finishing with apricots. Very inoffensive and at 12-years-old its a dunce.
Taste: some sun withered oranges, a handful of bar nuts and the undercurrent of vanilla. The texture is light and vapid.
Overall: yeah I could say this is gentle, smooth and mellow. This is what the ass kissers will probably say, but in reality this is a pretty poor excuse for a whisky. Over a decade in age, its a combination of mass production over quality or character. The casks here seem very benign and translucent with little depth on show and it features the worst characteristics of artificial colouring and chill filtration. At 40% strength whatever body it once had has withered away leaving us with this liquid that its best served as mixer rather than a single malt.
Labels: dufftown, featured, singleton