Just like the Dailuaine from the previous review, Macduff is featured quite some times on Master Quill already, twice in 2012 and twice in 2014. That’s certainly a while back. What also isn’t new on these pages is a Whisky featured from David Stirk’s old company: The Creative Whisky Company. Earlier I tried a 20yo Bunnahabhain and much later a quite quaffable 10 yo Girvan and not so long ago a very good 14yo Highland Park, I had to work hard for to get the most out if it. The Bunnahabhain was bottled in 2011, the last two mentioned offerings bottled somewhere around 2017.
This time we’ll have a look at a 10 yo Macduff distilled in 2000, and bottled in 2010, in a different style bottle than the Girvan and Highland Park yet the same as the Bunnahabhain. The bottle I bought is an example with an over-glued back label. The original back label mentions that the Whisky was selected by our Belgian friends of The Bonding Dram (200 bottles for them) and that this Whisky shows what can happen when a great Malt Spirit is put in an excellent Sherry cask. The rest of the cask was bottled probably at the same time, with some of them (or the rest of them) with the over-glued label. The label also learns us that the bird on the label is a Eurasian Jay (Vlaamse Gaai, a bird common to Belgium). See the bottle on the right here. The over-glued label that’s on the bottle I have, mentions non of this all, not even what kind of bird is on its label, yet it does mention that Macduff produces a strong Spirit used in major Blends. From my label we can also find out that the Sherry Butt is a First Fill, hardly a surprise looking at the colour of this Whisky. David would never tamper with his Whisky, so the colour does say something in this case. The label promised that the Whisky will have rich stewed fruits, raisins and plums and sweet syrupy-flavours. Knowing The Bonding Dram (a very knowledgeable bunch) as well as David (an even more knowledgeable man), I’m sure I will be in for a treat with this one! (I know I am, I’ve had this one several times before…).
Color: dark orange, almost brown.
Nose: Soft and sometimes a bit harsh at the same time. Soft fruits with vanilla and some harsh fresh oak. Harsh might be a slightly too big of a word to describe what I am smelling here. Smells very tasty and red fruity. Dusty and chilly fruits still in the cold shop. Cold cooked vegetables, cold dishwater, Rhum Agricole (closest to J.M from Martinique). In a way also a bit floral, like a nice floral perfume in a fine detergent. Well kept in check, so not a problem (I know, it may sound horrible, but believe me it isn’t). It’s not soapy. Sometimes even hints of honey, pine, horseradish and cola. Well masked wood spice. Sometimes animalesk and sometimes farmy. How’s that for complexity. What a wonderful combination. The wood smells like pencil shavings and after a while more green and leafy. After this, whiffs of fresh air. Starts to smell somewhat elegant after breathing. A rich and wonderful nose. Definitely more special than a hard hitting all-overpowering Sherry monster. Quality stuff this one, with amazing complexity.
Taste: Big, sweet and sour. Tasty! Big, yet also lively and fresh. Fruity cherries, black coal and some tar (woody bitterness). Chewy (not always though, it seemed thinner when tasted late in the evening) and some late, mouthwatering, spicy and prickly bits with just enough oaky bitterness. A good kind of bitterness. Tarry and toasted oak. Unlit cigarette tobacco. Slightly minty feel. Ever so slightly soapy, masked well by dark syrupy fruit. This is a big one, but not a monster. This is, as well as the nose is, and the whole of the Whisky, very well balanced. Very nice spirit and a very nice cask did come together in this one. This is better than many 10yo Whiskies from first fill Oloroso Sherry casks that see the light of day these days. Whiskies that taste like they only are used to season the cask for use as a refill, where the refill is more important than the first fill. This one tastes fantastic. It just stays on the right side of being over the top. With some notes it hints at the past, yet in an entirely different way than the old skoolness of Dailuaine 16yo and Strathisla 25yo mentioned in the previous review.
By the way, I mentioned the knowledge of David in the intro. He has a new book out, and if you are interested in independent bottlers please check it out, since it is about… well… independent bottlers (he should know, he is one). Here is a link, but there are many others that are selling his crowdfunded book as well.
I originally planned to compare this one to the Flora and Fauna Dailuaine 16yo of the previous review, still some drops left in that one, but this wouldn’t work, both are so different and actually incomparable. The difference in ABV’s also wouldn’t help. As a whole, both Whiskies are entirely different. Yet again the Macduff is a whisky that smells really good but tasted even better. Dirt cheap when it came out, now worth looking for at an auction.