Sunday, March 18, 2012
Have just tried - McDowell's Single Malt
The McDowell's company has an interesting history. It was originally founded as a trading company by an enterprising Scotsman named Angus McDowell in 1826 in Madras, and incorporated in 1898. The company was eventually acquired by India's United Breweries Group (UB Group) in 1951, who then launched blended whisky on to the Indian market in 1968 under the McDowell's brand name.
UB Group is the largest alcoholic beverage maker in India, with sales in excess of $4bn per annum, and they are perhaps more familiar internationally as the owners of Scotland's Whyte & Mackay company, makers of The Dalmore and Isle of Jura single malts.
The distillery that would eventually produce the McDowell's Single Malt whisky was built in 1971 at Bethora, Goa. This whisky is traditionally made in pot stills, matured in imported casks for a minimum of three years, then bottled and released at the slightly unusual strength of 42.8% alcohol by volume (abv).
Our tasting notes
The colour is a golden yellow and the liquid has a rather liqueur like texture in the glass, producing very narrow tears or 'legs' when swirled around. On the nose a cereal like 'gristy' aroma dominates. Grist is the dry malted barley flour produced by a distillery's grist mill, and here it takes on an earthy, slightly damp quality that made us think of the natural earth floor found in the 'dunnage' warehouse of a traditional distillery. There are grassy notes here, with a mossy green character, slightly vegetal. These mask sweeter notes of brown sugar, caramel and apple that linger underneath.
On the palate, the sweeter and more sugary notes make the initial running, with principal flavours of barley and those damp, earthy grains following on. A bittersweet quality grips the mouth, perhaps a little aggressive, and made me think of sawn oak and sawdust. This whisky has a light body with that initial sweetness quickly giving way to the more predominant bitter notes, and a rather austere finish.
We noted that with time in the glass the sweetness did come a little more into balance, and allowed more green fruits, vanilla, caramel and a little apple compote to emerge.
What's the verdict?
McDowell's Single Malt is an unusual whisky, with a light body, a marked cereal grain and grassy character, and a short finish. It could certainly be enjoyed with ice and/ or a mixer to produce a long, refreshing drink. As we also discovered, it is worth giving this malt a little time to open up in the glass if you would prefer to drink it neat.
McDowell's Single Malt is available in India and the pricing information we found equated to around £12 per bottle (Rs.1000). Production statistics suggest around 30,000 cases are sold annually.
For more information visit: http://www.ub-global.com/mcdowells_single_malt.html
Our thanks go to Sunhil Malhotra for kindly providing us with this sample.