The Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky Ltd. were set up in Glasgow in 1938 with the plan to bottle and blend whisky for export to America following the Prohibition period there. They are now based in the town of Huntly, close to the Speyside whisky region of Scotland. Duncan Taylor are reported to have one of the largest privately held collections of rare whisky casks in the world and bottle approximately 200 different whiskies a year. Their range is extensive and has numerous branches to it, which are detailed below. For more information on Duncan Taylor, their whisky and the different ranges, check out their website www.duncantaylor.com.
We were delighted to receive a small package last week, which contained samples of some of the new releases from across their ranges - we thank Karen Law of Duncan Taylor for this. Normally, we may not write about these, as they are such limited releases, but the parcel contained a number of lesser known distilleries that we are not so familiar with and as such, therefore haven't written much about them. It's always good to try new things, right? If you like the sound of any of them, then don't hang around as none of their bottlings ever seem to stay on the shelves for long. They can be found in specialist whisky retailers.
Auchroisk 22 years old Octave
Auchroisk (pronounced ar-thrusk) is located in the eastern corner of the Speyside region. It is also one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland having been founded in 1974 and has an annual production capacity of 3.8 million litres. The whisky produced there is used within popular blended whiskies such as Johnnie Walker and J&B. Single malt bottlings are rare, so this one is a treat - it's distilled in 1988 and has been matured in an octave cask (a cask that is the eighth the size of a regular cask), before being bottled at 22 years of age and 52% ABV.
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is lovely with plenty of vanilla, brown sugar, oak and zesty lemons. It has a youthful freshness which defies its age. On the palate, the tangy lemon zest hits first and then give way to notes of robust cereal grain, honey, sweet vanilla, coconut and toffee. There are hints of dried grasses and toasted almonds. A final hit of oak grips the palate and carries on through to the finish, in which this oak gives a pleasant dryness. The toasted almonds and cereals are particularly prominent on the finish.
Bunnahabhain 32 years old Rare Auld
Bunnahabhain (pronounced bunna-ha-ven) is located on the north eastern coast of the famous whisky island of Islay. It is the lightest of the Islay malts, which are known for their peaty and smoky nature, and commonly is not peaty at all. The distillery was founded in 1881 and has a current production capacity of 2.5 million litres per year. Most of the whisky produced is used as the base in a variety of blends, including Black Bottle. This bottling was distilled in 1979 and is 32 years old from cask no. 1774, with an alcoholic strength of 46.9% ABV.
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is complex and pleasant. First up are aromas of dusty cereal grains, followed by toffee, something floral (honeysuckle maybe?), wood spices (especially cinnamon) and some salty brine. On the palate, this is soft and buttery but with an initial salty and slightly citric tangy (imagine orange rind). Then come notes of toffee, sandalwood, vanilla and heavy and yeasty malted barley, all of which are backed up by further brine. The finish is sweet and full of barley, with the toffee and brine never far away.
Craigellachie 11 years old NC2
The Craigellachie distillery is located in the village of the same name in the heart of the Speyside region. It sits at the point where two famous rivers meet - the Spey and the Fiddich. Craigellachie was founded in 1891 and was designed by famous architect Charles Doig. It currently produces 3.5 million litres per year with most contributing towards the popular Dewar's range of blended whiskies. Single malt bottlings are extremely rare - this one is 11 years of age, was distilled in 1999 and has an alcoholic strength of 46% ABV.
The colour is a pale lemon yellow and the nose is very light and delicate. The subtle aromas take time to evolve and include dry, gristy barley, honey, vanilla and toffee. There are also hints of lemon zest and dried grass or hay. On the palate, this is again light and delicate. It is initially very grainy, before this subsides and the other subtle notes come through - honey, vanilla, lemon sherbet, plus the tiniest hints of toffee, damp earthy smoke and hay. The finish is a little bittersweet and is deliciously fresh, vibrant and mouth watering.
Invergordon 1972 Rare Auld Grain
Invergordon is a large grain distillery which is located on the shores of the Cromarty Firth in the northern Highlands, near the town of Alness. It was built in 1961 and now occupies a huge 80 acre site. Invergordon produces grain whisky which is used a the base for the popular range of Whyte & Mackay blended whiskies. Releases as a single grain whisky are very rare and this one was distilled in 1972 and has been maturing in cask no.85255 ever since. It has been bottled at the cask strength of 45.5% ABV. We have never tried any whisky from this distillery.
The colour is a dark golden yellow and the nose is expressive and vibrant for a whisky of this age. With time, it reveals aromas of sweet honey, vanilla, robust cereals, orange oils, chocolate and plenty of wood spices (think sandalwood, cinnamon). On the palate, this really comes out of its shell. A fantastic combination of coconut, honey and oranges hits your taste buds, followed up by the robust grains, vanilla and drying, slightly tannic wood spices. The orange and vanilla notes carry through to the finish, which is otherwise deliciously dry, woody and spicy.