The Deveron is the first ever range of single malts to be released from the Macduff distillery in northern Aberdeenshire. The name of the range is taken from the River Deveron, which flows next to Macduff and then out in to the North Sea shortly afterwards. The new range features expressions of 10, 12 and 18 years of age with all bottled at 40% ABV. The range is the last to be released in a series by owners John Dewar & Sons called The Last Great Malts - this has seen whiskies released from their five Scottish distilleries, most for the very first time. The other four are Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie and Royal Brackla.
The Macduff distillery is located close to the town of the same name on the north Aberdeenshire coast. It was founded in 1962 by a trio of local businessmen - George Crawford, Marty Dyke and Brodie Hepburn - who set up Macduff Distillers Ltd. Production began in 1963 and the reputation of the distillery grew. In the early 1970s Macduff malt was first used in popular William Lawson's blend and it has remained one of the most important ingredients used by the brand to this day. Macduff is currently owned by John Dewar & Sons, which are part of the larger Bacardi group who took over in 1993. The current capacity is 3.3 million litres per year.
"People underestimate the quality of whisky that can be made at a comparatively modern distillery."
Stephen Marshall, Global Marketing Manager - Single Malts, Bacardi.
The Deveron 10 years old will be exclusive to France, while the 12 and 18 years old are available now in selected markets including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK and the USA. The price of the 10 years old is still to be confirmed but the 12 years old will be £39 and the 18 years old £79.
Our tasting notes
The Deveron 12 years old
The colour is light golden yellow and the nose is filled with green apple and toffee aromas to begin with. Underneath are further aromas of heather honey, vanilla and demerara sugar with a suggestion of peaches, cinnamon and something slightly metallic.
On the palate the whisky feels light in body and is initially sweet. This begins with notes of crumbly brown sugar and honey and then begins to evolve in to something more reminiscent of toffee or butterscotch. There is also a distinct dried green apple note, plus a twist of lemon peel and dried grass/hay. These characteristics are backed up by hints of earthy ginger, cinnamon, malty/dusty cereals and that metallic element from the nose. The finish is short, dry and a little sharp, especially once the sweeter elements have gone.
The Deveron 18 years old
The colour is golden amber and the nose has a lovely sweetness and richness to it. Initial aromas are of sweet nougat and hazelnuts. Then come further aromas of apple and dried fruits (especially sultanas and raisins). Background hints of nutmeg, malty barley and candied orange round things off well.
On the palate the whisky feels creamy and viscous. This leads the hazelnut note from the nose to take on a praline-like quality, and this is backed up by expressive notes of vanilla extract and butterscotch. This sweetness is complimented well by a distinct fruitiness (think of dried pears and apples, plus fresh peach). Hints of malted and earthy cereals, cinnamon, cocoa powder, raisins and bitter orange oil add further depth. The finish is slightly shorter than expected and becomes increasingly dry, especially as the earthy wood spices coming through and the sweeter notes fade.
What's the verdict?
Both of The Deverons that we sampled are pleasant whiskies. The 18 years old expression was our favourite of the two and had an added depth and complexity that you would expect from additional ageing. It also represents good value for money, especially in the current climate where many 18 year olds are in the £100+ price zone. The 12 years old has a promising nose but the palate is lighter than the nose indicates and the finish short. Despite this, it still also offers decent value for money.
Is The Deveron, or any of the series for that matter, The Last Great Malts that we have been waiting eternally for? Probably not. All are nice whiskies but none are that different from anything currently available on the market, despite what the promotional material and the producer tell you.
However what the series has done is introduce single malt whiskies from distilleries that were previously unavailable to the consumer, outside of the world of independent bottlers. For example, we had never sampled anything from four of the five distilleries and the consumer now has a greater choice - that can only be a good thing.