Whisky Advent Day 8 sees us sampling something a little different. It is an independent bottling of Miltonduff, but it looks like an official bottling… what’s going on here? Well, I’m glad you asked. It wasn’t until the mid 1960′s that distilleries began pushing single malts as brands. Prior to that they were almost exclusively in the business distilling whisky for blends. Firms like Cadenhead and Gordon & Macphail filled the void, bottling single malt whiskies under their own labels. Gordon & MacPhail took things a step further with its “Distillery Labels Range”. I’ll let them start to explain.
About G&M Distillery Labels: “In partnership with each respective distillery, all whiskies in our ‘Distillery Labels’ range are uniquely labelled. In years gone by many of these unique designs were used ‘officially’ to bottle the whisky under license from the distillery. Today these trusted relationships with distillers enables Gordon & MacPhail to bottle whiskies at various ages, strengths and vintages – all with their unique distillery label.”
Gordon MacPhail continues to do this today, most notably for Glen Grant, Glenlivet, Mortlach, Linkwood, Strathisla Macallan (under Speymalt) and a number of others. The focus is mostly Speyside oriented, which is not surprising as that is where the distillery is located. While Glenlivet and Macallan started promoting their whiskies as single malts internationally in the 1960′s, Gordon Macphail has been bottling and selling those whiskies for nearly 100 years. In the case of some distilleries, like Miltonduff, who don’t bottle their whisky as a single malt at all, these Gordon & Macphail Distillery Labels are the closest thing to an official bottling.
In the interest of time, as I am running a little late today, here is a brief history of Miltonduff from Gordon Macphail: “”Situated six miles southwest of Elgin is Pluscarden Abbey. Initially a Priory, it was founded by King Alexander II in 1230. Miltonduff is said to be situated on the site of the Abbey’s meal mill, two miles from the Abbey. A stone from the original Abbey is retained at the distillery. As well as the distillery, the site is home to laboratories, engineering support, centralised warehousing management and the Malt Distilleries Technical Centre which provides technical and business backup to the other Chivas Brother distilleries.From 1967 to 1981, Miltonduff also produced a Single Malt called Mosstowie, using a ‘Lomond Still’. Miltonduff is a key component of Ballantines blend.”
Miltdonduff is in my opinion one of the most underappreciated single malts in Scotland. The vast majority of its production goes into blends like Chivas. Even independent bottlings are uncommon. That being said I have had a number of remarkably good ones. I am a huge fan of the distillery and its whisky. Tonight we have a young, 10 year old, Distillery Label bottling of Miltonduff from Gordon Macphail for consideration. It has been matured in First Fill and Refill Sherry casks, which is interesting, as almost all of the Miltonduff I’ve ever sampled has been from Ex-Bourbon barrels. But again this is not surprising, as Gordon MacPhail doesn’t buy casks on the open market but rather fills its own barrels with new make spirit. The whisky has been bottled at 40%, lower than 46%, or as I like to say, the new 40… but let’s give it a go and see what we think. By we, I mean I… this is my blog post, though I look forward to your thoughts on Social Media.
G&M Miltonduff 10 Year - 40% – 1st & Refill Sherry – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: soft malt and orange Starburts hit first before soft leather and figs in honey emerge; milk chocolate and Caramilk bars; candy apple and white chocolate infused with cocoa nibs. Palate: big, round and bold; there is a surge of malt followed by a wave of caramel with a leather squeegee to clean things up; dark fruits: more figs in honey with raisins and prunes; floral and grassy with some faint coppery tones; the apple notes are still there with a touch of honey dew melon and fading orange. Finish: medium-light and mid length with honey and more soft fruits fading out before the barley which goes all the way! Comment: most of the Miltonduffs I’ve loved have been much older, this one has stirrings of those old malts, and at 80 bucks is a pretty good buy!” - $80