The Douglas of Drumlanrig is a new range of independently bottled single malt whiskies. The range is named after Drumlanrig Castle (pictured, left) which is located near to the Dumfires & Galloway town of Thornhill in the south western corner of Scotland. Drumlanrig is not actually a castle but a large country house, which is one of the best examples of baroque architecture in the UK. The house was built between 1684 and 1691, and is the ancient stronghold of the famous Douglas clan and current home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch & Queensberry.
Each of the bottlings in this initial release of the Douglas of Drumlanrig range is from a specially selected single cask and is non chill-filtered with an alcoholic strength of 46% ABV. The selection process has an emphasis on whiskies from cult, boutique or closed distilleries. The range is being sold exclusively in The Whisky Shop - the UK's largest specialist whisky retailing chain - and can be purchased in one of their 16 stores or online at www.whiskyshop.com. We have recently sampled four of the new range and our tasting notes are below.
Ben Nevis 12 years old
Info > ex-sherry cask/distilled December 1996/764 bottles/£47.99
The colour is golden amber and the nose is packed with dried fruit (especially sultanas and raisins), toffee and malty barley grains. There is a hint of sharpness, reminiscent of a tart style of apple, and some honey aromas that come through with time. On the palate, there is that tangy apple note but this gives way to softer sweeter toffee, caramel and dried fruity characters - think of the sultanas and raisins again, but add in some dried pear and apple. The robust malty cereals add grip, as does a pinch of a woody spice like cinnamon and some liquorice. The finish begins sweetly but turns drier with plenty of the cereals and wood spice present. These combined with the tangy apple notes give a pleasant mouthwatering quality.
Dailuaine 11 years old
Info > ex-sherry cask/distilled August 1997/715 bottles/£46.99
The colour is a coppery amber and the nose is fresh and fruity. There are strong aromas of caramel, dried fruits (think of raisins and apricots especially) and orange oil. Under these are distinct notes of oak, barley sugar and sweet honey, which mingle with some nutty bitter spices (imagine nutmeg). On the palate, this feels creamy and rich with some lovely warm spicy notes (the nutmeg again) combining with sweet cereals, toffee and the dried fruits. There are also elements of yeast, honey and the orange note is again quite strong. The woody spices and the barley flavour increase with time. The finish begins sweetly before dramatically turning bitter and try, leaving a pleasant astringency in the mouth. The orange oil note helps counteract this a little.
Linkwood 13 years old
Info > ex-bourbon cask/distilled May 1997/242 bottles/£54.99
This has a pale straw gold colour and a light, fresh and vibrant nose. There are aromas of icing sugar, vanilla, honey and fresh hay or grass. After this come further aromas of malty cereals, green foliage, freshly sawn oak and a twist of lemon zest. The palate is also fresh and tangy with the citrus, oak and grassy notes to the fore. These are quickly joined by a sweet nutty almond note (reminiscent of marzipan?) and further sweetness in the form of honey and delicate cereal grains. The oakiness threatens to become overpowering but the over riding sweet notes reign it back in, as does an interesting sherbet characteristic. The finish is crisp, clean and refreshing with plenty of honey, zest and oak present - this would be a perfect summer dram!
Macallan 8 years old
Info > ex-bourbon cask/distilled September 2002/264 bottles/ £47.99
The colour is a pale lemon yellow and the nose is fresh with distinct grassy and grainy aromas particularly prominent. Further freshness is added with aromas of fresh green pear and apples, plus a whiff of alcoholic spirit. Underneath are delicate notes of honey, vanilla, oak and just a hint of cinnamon spice. On the palate, the fresh and clean notes are continued with the green crisp fruit and a hint of zesty lemon at the forefront. This is tempered by some subtle sweetness driven by notes of honey and vanilla in particular, but also malty cereal grains and increasing amounts of fresh oak. There is also a hit of peppery heat from the youthful alcohol. The finish is a little short but with a drying wood spice quality (that cinnamon again). Sadly, it is gone before it really gets going. Again, another good dram for warm weather.
In addition to the whiskies sampled above, the new Douglas of Drumlanrig range also includes >
Aultmore 13 years old - ex-sherry cask/distilled January 1996/£54.99
Caol Ila 9 years old - ex-bourbon cask/distilled December 2000/£56.99
Glentauchers 9 years old - ex-sherry cask/distilled November 2000/£41.99
Glen Ord 11 years old - ex-bourbon cask/distilled March 1998/£46.99
Mortlach 12 years old - ex-sherry cask/distilled September 1997/£54.99
Port Ellen 27 years old - ex-bourbon cask/distilled March 1983/£209.99