Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New releases - Singleton of Dufftown 'Sunray' & 'Tailfire'

The Sunray and Tailfire are two new expressions that will be joining the Singleton of Dufftown range.  The names draw inspiration from the brand's logo of a leaping salmon - sunray and tailfire are types of artificial fly used in salmon fishing.  Both new single malts will sit alongside the 12, 15 and 18 years old whiskies that currently make up the core range and have just been released in selected European markets of Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Switzerland and the UK.  Sunray has also been released in Germany, with Tailfire following in the Summer.

The whisky produced at Dufftown is primarily used in numerous Diageo blends, most notably Bell's and Johnnie Walker Blue Label, with only around 5% being released as single malt under the Singleton banner.  The Singleton range showcases three of Diageo's unsung distilleries - Dufftown, Glendullan and Glen Ord.  Each is released in one of three different markets - the Singleton of Dufftown is for the UK and Europe, the Singleton of Glendullan is released in North America and the Singleton of Glen Ord is sold in South East Asia.  The combined sales of the three expressions puts the Singleton range in fifth place for world single malt sales.

The Dufftown distillery is located in the small town of the same name in the heart of the Speyside whisky region.  The town is the centre of the region's whisky production and is home to seven working distilleries.  Dufftown was founded in 1895 and incorporated the buildings of an old mill on the edge of the town.  It is currently owned by Diageo and is one of their largest distilleries with an annual production capacity of six million litres.

Singleton of Dufftown Sunray
A high proportion of the whisky used to make Sunray has been matured in toasted American oak casks.  It has been bottled at 40% ABV and has a recommended retail price of £36 for a 70cl bottle.

The colour is golden yellow and the nose is fresh and packed with honey, vanilla and fresh green apple aromas.  Underneath is a lovely soft maltiness, plenty of cinnamon spice and a hint of caramelised nuts.  On the palate, it feels soft and creamy with the vanilla and honey notes particularly prominent early on.  The honey seems to become more sugary with time and the apple characteristic from the nose develops also - this time it is more reminiscent of stewed apples, especially when combined with an increasing cinnamon note.  A background maltiness adds depth, as does a hint of candied lemon and dried pear.  The cinnamon really comes to the fore in the finish and gives a pleasant dryness to the whisky.  This balances the earlier sweet and sugary elements.

Singleton of Dufftown Tailfire
A high proportion of European oak cask matured whisky has been used to produce Tailfire.  It has been bottled at 40% ABV and has a recommended retail price of £33 for a 70cl bottle.

The colour is golden amber and the nose is fulled of fresh green apple, cut grass, dried red fruit (especially raspberries) and burnt orange aromas.  Underneath are further aromas of robust malted cereals, dried pear and cinnamon bark.  On the palate, it feel soft and viscous with lovely notes of crumbly brown sugar and dried fruit (think of pear, apple and raisins) to the fore.  Then come the robust malt from the nose and a hit of bitter orange.  Further depth is added with notes of toasted spices (imagine nutmeg and cinnamon), coconut and an increasing oakiness.  Final hints of golden syrup and earthy ginger can be detected.  As with Sunray, the finish is full of warming wood spices and this gives a lovely dryness to balance the sweet and fruity notes. Other lingering notes are of dried coconut and burnt orange.

What's the verdict?
Both Sunray and Tailfire are very easy drinking and offer good value for money.  This is important given the recent negative commentary about 'no age statement' whiskies from many voices within the whisky blogging community.  Therefore we feel that Diageo have done well with the price positioning of these new products.  Both would be excellent choices for a whisky beginner, while also having enough depth to maintain the interest of more seasoned whisky drinkers.

Did you know?
Despite being named after the town of Dufftown, the distillery actually sits outside the official town boundary ... neither was it the first distillery in the town - that honour goes to Mortlach, which was founded in 1823.

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