If you’ve been to one of my tastings or follow me on Social Media, you’ll know that I have a soft spot for Miltonduff. The whisky is one of Pernod Ricard’s workhorses for Blended Scotch Whisky, and there has only ever been a handful of official bottlings. Earlier this year Pernod released single malts from Miltonduff and two other lesser known distilleries, Glentauchers and Glenburgie, under the Ballentine’s Single Malts brand. I had high hopes, but they were bottled at 40% and the reviews have almost universally been lacklustre. I am a self-confessed fan of all three distilleries, but only thus far from independent bottlers.
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 Regal and the aforementioned Ballantines. Ballentine’s is the world’s second bestselling Blended Scotch whisky. In 2017 the brand shifted 77 million bottles at a time when the Blended Scotch whisky category is in decline. My love affair with the whisky started with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which has consistently bottled some of the best middle-aged Miltonduff, 18-30+ years of age. We’ve also had excellent Miltonduff, both young and old from Cadenhead, and a beautiful young Distillery Label 10 Year from Gordon Macphail. An opportunity to squeeze a Miltonduff into the KWM Whisky Advent Calendar is not to be missed!
Miltonduff Distillery is located south of Elgin and is said to sit on the site of a meal mill connected to the Pluscarden Abbey. Founded in 1230 by Scotland’s King Alexander II, Pluscarden Abbey was originally a priory. A stone at the distillery has been retained from the original Abbey. An illicit farm distillery called Milton Distillery operated on the site before going legit. The name was changed to Miltonduff when the Duff family acquired the farm and distillery. A license was acquired in 1824 by Andrew Peary and Robert Bain, shortly after the passage of The Small Stills Act, which made it much easier to get a license. The distillery changed hands twice in the following century. In 1936 it was acquired by Canadian firm Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts.
Hiram Walker shortly thereafter transferred the distillery to another recently acquired subsidiary, George Ballantine & Son. As the whisky boom of the 1960s got going the distillery was equipped with a Lomond Still. Lomond Stills were quite in vogue for about a decade and a half. By manipulating plates within the still you could dramatically change the spirit character of the whisky you produced. The downside of the Lomond stills is that they were difficult to operate and maintain. Most of them were replaced. Miltonduff’s Lomond still was only in use for 15 years, producing a whisky called Mosstowie. The distillery passed from Hiram Walker to Allied in 1987, and then to Chivas Brothers/Pernod Ricard in 2005.
Before getting to the whisky we need to continue our Cadenheads tale. When we left you last, our hero, Hedley Wright had just acquired WM Cadenheads. Under the stewardship of J. & A. Mitchell’s, WM Cadenhead closed up shop in Aberdeen and moved its premises to Campbeltown, on the west coast Kintyre Peninsula. The modern era for Cadenheads was a positive one, with Hedley Wright at the helm the firm and the financial backing of J. & A. Mitchell & Co., the company acquired deep stocks of single casks in the downturn of the 1980s. Hedley is said to have travelled Scotland visiting his friends at various distilleries with a check book and a couple of ledgers purchasing casks he fancied. Over the years Cadenheads opened shops in Edinburgh and London, as well as forming partnerships and franchise shops in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark.
When Mark Watt joined the firm about 5 years ago the firm was only selling its whisky through its own shops as well as those of its franchisees. A close look at the stock lists showed that Cadenheads had too many casks of older whisky and that its existing route to market was insufficient. The Cadenheads Small Batch range was created to offer Cadenheads Single Malts and Blends to a small group of select partners around the world. Kensington Wine Market is proud to be Cadenhead’s exclusive partner in Canada!
Today’s malt, the Cadenhead Miltonduff-Glenlivet 2006 12 Year is another release bottled for their French partner Dugas. Bottled at 54.1% from an Ex-Bourbon Hogshead. We have 50mls and will look into ordering the full-sized 700mL version.
Image courtesy of @frombarreltobottle
Cadenhead Miltonduff-Glenlivet 2006 – 54.1% – 12 Year – Ex-Bourbon Hogshead –
Andrew’s Tasting Note
Nose: perfumed and floral; fruit flan with under-ripe mango, papaya and fading orange; malty with a touch of green grass; young but pleasant and balanced.
Palate: light, fresh and malty to start it quickly builds into a sweet, honeyed fruit bomb; thick, coating and creamy of the second pass with velvety vanilla and tres leches cake.
Finish: light, sweet and fruity but with some nice depth.
Comment: Miltonduff only rarely disappoints, and this one is no exception; this is a beautiful, sweet and balanced malt. – $10 (50ml)
Playing catch-up on our 2018 Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar?