New Whiskies

Batch 167

by
Cadenhead Macduff 29 and Miltonduff 10, Duncan Taylor's The Octave Macduff 2007 and Miltonduff 2008, Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1993 and Ardgowan Expedition

Ardgowan’s debut blended malt and a Madeira-matured Glenmorangie precede two pairs of indie-bottled Duffs – Milton and Mac – in this week’s new whisky reviews.

Leading the charge is yet-to-be-built Ardgowan distillery with its first release Expedition, the blended malt containing traces of liquid that’s travelled to the South Pole and back. Worth the trek? ‘A worthwhile and relaxing dram,’ says Dave Broom – ideal for putting your feet up after a long walk.

It’s followed by Glenmorangie’s Grand Vintage 1993, which proves to be as full-bodied and fruity as you might expect after 15 years of secondary maturation in ex-Bual Madeira casks. 

Then comes the comparative Miltonduffs, with a ‘slippery, slithery’ 10-year-old from Cadenhead that’s hiding something from Broom he can’t quite pinpoint.

Duncan Taylor’s octave cask-matured Miltonduff effort fares well. It’s sweet, upfront and ‘easily quaffable’ according to Broom, with aromatic elements that balances a bitter edge.

On to the Macduffs, with the Duncan Taylor 10-year-old nursing a ‘weight and a glossiness’ thanks to the octave cask, which also masks some distillery character. However it’s soft, chocolaty and warming, says Broom.

The final bottle in this week’s batch is a 29-year-old Macduff from Cadenhead, which is an exercise in unhurried, unconventional maturation. With a nose that blooms into Oolong and a long, lightly fruited finish, Broom finds the sense of time passing before his eyes, marking this Macduff as one to watch.

As usual, this week’s playlist complements the line-up below, veering from juicy, classic R&B to the icy cool tones of saxophonist Jan Garbarek.  

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Ardgowan Expedition 20 Years Old

    Ardgowan Expedition 20 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Mature and rich. A mix of old sweet wrappers and seaside rock, with some hessian at the back. Everything is concentrated, dried and dark fruits with drying meadow grass, and while it is slightly hard to grab onto its complexities initially, in time there is cacao, sawn wood, and antique furniture. Water enhances this quality: you’re now in a battered leather armchair – there’s even a whiff of old slippers – surrounded by the smell of dates, figs, and old tins of varnish.

    Palate

    Balanced and rather lovely, mixing the sweetness of rich tea biscuits (dunked in sweet, malty Assam tea) with dried mint that slides towards camphor. In time, you pick up gently cooked red and black fruits and, as it develops, more of the dark chocolate element.

    Finish

    Long and fruity.

    Conclusion

    It might just need a wee bit of energy to get it moving in the middle, but that’s hair-splitting on my part. A worthwhile and relaxing evening dram.

    Right place, right time

    Late at night, settle down, time for a Brainshift.

    Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1993

    Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1993
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Well you ain’t shy, are you? Mature scents from the off. Highly compressed fruits with a scented (dried) Muscatel element dribbled with blueberries in maple syrup, then dried sweet plums and a tiny touch of dried mango behind, then cinnamon toast, hothouses, light mint, and more wood tones. Water brings out a huge hit of roasted coconut and Lees’ macaroon bar, then more of the fruited elements, though this time there’s an upping of the peachy and tropical side. It steadily grows more muscular as it develops. Excellent.

    Palate

    There’s more structure than you expect from such a lush, fruited nose. Those firm tannins need a balancing richness in the centre of the tongue which isn’t quite there. Things sag a little in the middle (as they do in life) before a spicier element begins to take hold as a fresher orchard fruit quality develops. The same effect is repeated when it’s diluted, with plenty of scented sweet fruits and some custard, but also this slight lack of concentration in the centre.

    Finish

    It pulls itself together marvellously to finish with expansive fruits and more of the maple syrup.

    Conclusion

    Fruit-laden and sybaritic. That’s what 15 years of secondary maturation in Bual Madeira does. You’ll have to save up to afford a bottle though!

    Right place, right time

    Candy rain coming down, taste you in my mind… oh, Juicy Fruit.

    Miltonduff 10 Years Old, 2008 (Cadenhead)

    Miltonduff 10 Years Old, 2008 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Heat and some weight from the off, with a light smouldering quality and some herbal elements. The impression is of wet bracken, sodden moorland, and the smell of a wet horse then, weirdly, dog biscuits (am I selling it to you yet?). It moves into damp dunnage, then old milk chocolate, but there’s also some savoury sweetness in there along with this singed quality. Water produces some hedgerow fruits and a little dustiness before we head deeper into the bog – or the stable yard.

    Palate

    Thick, with light heat and this burnt quality, but slippery and slithery in terms of texture. There’s better balance and while the singed element now has a more sulphurous intent, there’s hard toffee and some grip. Water brings the sulphur out on top of this oozing palate.

    Finish

    Strawberries when neat, then burnt.

    Conclusion

    There’s something buried in here, but as hard as I tried, it was tough to get a clear view of what it was.

    Right place, right time

    The Pale Horse arrives, judgement day is nigh.

    Miltonduff The Octave, 2008 (Duncan Taylor)

    Miltonduff The Octave, 2008 (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Some raisins rehydrating in warm water, fruit and nut bar, a little lipstick/ wax crayon, then some lavender-scented soap and light tobacco. With water it becomes considerably more aromatic, perfumed even, with the scents moving more into violet alongside dried sweet fruit. Things remain bright and very up, rounding off with Tunnock’s tea cake filling.

    Palate

    The aromatic elements are still in evidence along with some meadowsweet which balances a slight bitter edge. The Sherried element from the octave cask isn’t overly dominant. The start is actually quite delicate and there’s some very light tannins with the darker fruits coming through later on with a slight burnt note. Things become generally plumper and pleasingly ripe when water is added, as the whole delivery becomes much more fruit-driven with some heavy floral elements.

    Finish

    Plum pudding.

    Conclusion

    All very sweet and upfront. It might not have huge complexity, but it’s easily quaffable.

    Right place, right time

    All is well, all in Sweet Harmony

    Macduff The Octave, 2007 (Duncan Taylor)

    Macduff The Octave, 2007 (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Fat and slightly buttery – in fact, it’s like butteries or fatty croissants with blackberry jam. There’s more noticeable heat here than on the Miltonduff as well as a little nuttiness on the side. This bready element develops alongside some black olive, although there’s the sense that you’re losing the distillery’s signature. In time, a mix of bruised black fruit with some rushes.

    Palate

    The sweeter, Sherried elements on the start add a thick coating to the tongue. Overall, things are pleasingly soft, with a toffee-like mid-palate balancing the malty distillery character. When water is added there are more chocolate elements, especially in the mid-palate. It becomes more vinous in time.

    Finish

    Slightly hot, then some raisin and an over-toasted tea cake.

    Conclusion

    The octave here has added weight and a glossiness, even though it obscures the distillery character.

    Right place, right time

    As we head In The Green Wild

    Macduff 29 Years Old, 1989 (Cadenhead)

    Macduff 29 Years Old, 1989 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Mature and relaxed with a lightly oily quality, some sandalwood and a blurring prickle of heat. In time you can discern the strangely herbal, marijuana-like element which you sometimes get with Macduff, before dry reeds and some nuttiness. Water stirs in mint sauce, some roasted malt and then it slowly, gently blooms into orchid-like Oolong tea, herbs and fruit peels. Elegant, slightly elusive and fascinating.

    Palate

    A bit of a slow burner (with the emphasis on burn) but you can pick up a mealy, almost fatty quality similar to some Glen Gariochs. That herbal element is retained (more marjoram now) while water extends its length and adds oiled canvas, yellow plum and apple.

    Finish

    Long and lightly fruited when water is added.

    Conclusion

    This isn’t conventional. It’s not showy or shouty, it hasn’t been covered over by wood. Instead it has been allowed to ease into maturity. This allows you to get the sense of time passing, of what happens when a whisky is permitted to mature at its own pace. It’s an important style and there’s not enough of them. One to seek out and learn from.

    Right place, right time

    Where So Mild The Wind, so meek the water.

Scroll To Top