Glen Deveron is a single malt whisky that is produced at the little known Macduff distillery, close to the Highland coastal town of Banff. The distillery was founded in 1962 and was originally named as Glen Deveron due to its proximity to the River Deveron. It became Macduff in the 1970s, following a change of ownership. The current owners are John Dewar & Sons, a subsidiary of the Bacardi group, and most of the three million litres produced there each year is used in Dewar's popular range of blended whiskies. Macduff is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to have an odd number of stills - they have five and this is unusual as stills normally operate in pairs, so therefore most distilleries have an even number of them.
Popular in Europe
Glen Deveron single malt whisky is relatively difficult to find in the UK market, but has a strong market share in southern Europe. This stems from when it was owned and marketed by Martini in the 1980s and laterly, by Bacardi since they took control of Dewar's in 1992. Because of its strong showing in these markets, Glen Deveron creeps in to the world's top 30 for single malt whisky sales. Single malt releases are limited to just this 10 years old, although this is joined occasionally by 12 and 15 years olds. All releases by John Dewar & Sons carry the Glen Deveron name, while any bottled by an independent bottling company carry the Macduff name. Such independent bottlings are rare, especially older whiskies.
Our tasting notes
This Glen Deveron 10 years old is bottled at 40% ABV and should cost between £25-30 from specialist retailers. The colour is a rich gold and the nose is initially sharp with a distinct citrus-like zing (think of orange zest). This settles after a short time to reveal prominent cereals and oak aromas that are backed up with further nuttiness (imagine almonds), some burnt sugar and caramel notes and a tiny whiff of peat smoke. On the palate, there is that initial sharp zesty tang again but as before, this fades with time to allow the other characteristics through, especially very prominent oak, wood spice (think of cinnamon and nutmeg) and cereal notes. Behind these are more subtle, sweeter elements such as some honey, nuts (almonds again), caramel and soft distant peat smoke. The finish is disappointingly short - it is again sharp and fresh, giving way to an increasing woody bitterness that was not unlike that previously experienced in one or two bourbons.
What's the verdict?
We have never tried anything from Macduff and it is always interesting to try whiskies from new distilleries. This seems a peculiar whisky that is at odds with itself. It has numerous pleasant sweeter characteristics that balance well with the more bitter and distinct cereal and woody oak notes, especially on the nose and palate. However, the short, sharp finish unbalances the whole experience and the initial sharpness on the nose, palate and finish may put some people off this whisky. You can see why it is popular in southern Europe, where temperatures are much warmer than the UK, as its freshness would lend itself to the addition of some ice or use as a mixer. Worth trying but we tick Macduff/Glen Deveron off our list and move on ...