1257 Kensington Road NW
1 (403) 283-8000 / [email protected]
This bottle was featured on Day 1 of our 2023 KWM Whisky Calendar. You can find Evan's Blog Post on it here
The Daftmill 15 Year Cask Strength bottling contains whisky from the distillery's second year of production. To our knowledge, it is the oldest Daftmill yet to be bottled. Distilled in 2006, the whisky for this release was matured in 28 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrels for 15 years before bottling at 55.7%. Once more we are the only retailer in Canada to receive it 89pts Angus @WhiskyFun & 87.82pts Whiskybase
Andrew's Tasting Note
Nose: soft, fruity, and nutty, with a lovely cheesy funk; window putty, parchment paper, and fresh cut spring flowers; macadamias, Starbusrt fruit candies, and sliced pear with a touch of crumbly blue cheese; quince paste and creamed honey; firm toasted oak and wood spices.
Palate: lush, fruity, and spicy, with a backbone of toasted oak and dry nutty tones; floral and honeyed, the oak is firm but balanced; on the fruit side of things, more Starburts, crisp pear, and honeydew melon; chewy malt, silky oils, and a flinty minerality; a touch more cheese, comte and a touch of Danish blue cheese.
Finish: light, fresh, and waxy with good length; more floral and fruity tones with honey, malt, and cheese.
Comment: this is another cracking good Daftmill; it is elegant, with nice layers, and a good balance; I haven't even mentioned the strength yet, dangerously drinkable at 55.7%!
Producer Tasting Note
Nose: there’s an immediate level of maturity present here. Typical Daftmill characteristics of grassy sweetness and orchard fruits have concentrated down into notes of barley sugars, light waxes, mineral oils and shoe polish. There’s also custard sweetness, green apple and some slightly farmy hints of cider. With water, the freshness breaks out very strongly. Lots of thick cereal tones, fresh butter, grass, hay and lemon verbena.
Palate: intricate malty sweetness, biscuity richness, lemon barley water, some green herbal teas, bergamot, lemon rind and olive oil. With water, once again it is about freshness, but here it shows as spearmint, pollens, flower nectars, vase water and grassy rapeseed oil.
Finish: medium and showing once again a soft, slightly dusty waxiness, gently warming peppery tones and soft notes of dried flowers and freshly milled grist.
89pts Angus @WhiskyFun
"A new 15 year old that hasn't quite been released yet, but will be out later this year I believe. Colour: bright straw. Nose: you do notice the extra few years, this one goes immediately to richer territories of shoe leather, polish, linseed oils and impressions of sauternes and custard. Given a little more time it begins to show a very precise honeyed note that feels like old mead mixed with flower honey. There's also a thready and rather delicate waxiness that runs throughout. Undeniably classy and pretty beautiful. With water: lovely, on clay, sunflower oil, face cream and sandalwood. Does what many of these Daftmill seem to do with water, become drier and more elegant. Mouth: unsurprisingly there's a clear voice from the wood here, but it's rather more peppery and spicy than anticipated, crumbled oatcakes, freshly churned butter, watercress and impressions of vegetable stock, aniseed and herbal tea. Feels like Daftmill drifting into new territory at this kind of age. With water: wonderfully peppery, softly oily and becoming very complex now with tiny mechanical and medicinal inflections. The wood never quite dominates the distillate, rather they bend quite nicely together. Finish: long, warming, glowing with soft waxes, dried herbs, various teas, vapour rubs, and dried flowers. Comments: superb, suggests that Daftmill still has interesting and slightly unexpected places to go with increasing age. Although, maybe we are reaching the limits of 1st fill wood with these batches perhaps? Anyway, this is a totally charming, rather soulful dram that you should try and drink some of. SGP: 651 - 89 points."
As if all of that wasn't enough:
Evan's Tasting Note
Nose: Very toasty, but still grain-driven. Notes of buttered cinnamon toast, banana bread, hot-cross buns, Fruit Loops cereal, fried plantain chips, pear pie, and Calvados.
Palate: Golden Delicious apple slices, Puffed Wheat cereal, root vegetable and potato chips, vegetable barley soup, buttered popcorn, sunflower seeds, just a touch of unsweetened cocoa powder, and a dash of seasoning salt.
Finish: Sweet cereals and spicy, buttery oak continue to hum quietly before fading into the background. Sweet cereals and spicy, buttery oak continue to hum quietly before fading into the background.
Comment: The first fill ex-Bourbon barrels have some influence in this whisky, but the amount of grain and malt that still sings through is stunning. What a dram!
The following was written by Andrew Ferguson for the April 2020 edition of Celtic Life Magazine.
Until the closing decades of the 19th century, most Scottish distilleries had started out as farms. Some were blessed with fertile fields, perfect for growing barley, while others got their start with cattle farming. Many did both. Either way, some discovered in due course that it was much more profitable to use malted barley to make whisky than it was to be a simple farmer. By the 1700s, there were literally tens of thousands of illicit stills across the highlands of Scotland, most of them belonging to farms and small crofts. By 1820, as many as 14,000 illicit stills were being confiscated each and every year.
There is an interesting synergy between the two - farming and malt whisky making - that goes well beyond the obvious. Barley has been Scotland’s most important cereal crop for centuries. The grain is not only well suited to grow in the nation’s cool, damp northern climate, but it is also very stable. Scotland’s barley production continues to be the bedrock of its whisky and livestock industries, but the grain has a catch; it stores its energy in the form of starch, and before you can feed it to cattle and sheep, the grain needs to be modified. The best way to do this is to first use the barley to make beer or whisky.
The first step of the brewing and malt whisky making process is malting. By steeping it in water, and then leaving it to breathe, the grain is tricked in to thinking it is spring, starting the process of germination which converts the starches to sugars. When the sugar yield is at its maximum, the process is stopped by drying the now-malted barley out. The grain is then milled, and the sugar extracted by sparging hot water through it. The sugary water, or wort, is then fermented to become beer or whisky. The leftover spent grains are now rich in protein and slightly sweet, making them perfect animal feed.
In 1823, the Excise Act was passed in Scotland, reducing the size of legal stills and, more importantly, the duties levied on small distillers. Nicknamed the “Small Stills Act,” it encouraged small scale distillers - mostly farmers - to go legit. Almost all the malt whisky distilleries founded before the last two decades of the 19th century began as farms. This only started to change in the 1880s, with the explosion in demand for malt whisky brought on by the collapse of Europe’s wine industry.
Flash forward more than 100 years, and the Scotch whisky industry is a very different animal.
Many new distilleries have opened in the last decade. As with the modern industry as a whole, few of them retain a direct link to farming, other than the need for barely as a base ingredient. One curious exception is Daftmill Distillery, established by Francis Cuthbert in Fife, in 2003. The distillery was built in two-hundred-year-old farm buildings, in the fertile Eden Valley. The land has been farmed for more than a thousand years, by just 3 families, and specializes in growing malting barley for the whisky industry. For the last 15 years they have held back about 10 per cent of their annual barley harvest so that it may be used in the production of their own whisky. Oh, and they also raise cattle!
Daftmill’s production is small, just 20,000 litres-per-year - less than 1/1000th of what Glenfiddich or Glenlivet produce over the same period. As with the farm distilleries of the 18th and 19th centuries, whisky production has to be scheduled around the farm’s main enterprise, and it is restricted to two three-month windows following the Spring and Fall harvests. Unlike most of the other new Scottish distilleries to open in the last decade, Daftmill was not in a rush to get its product to market. Both the distillery and its annual whisky production are financed from the farm’s profits. Francis Cuthbert was determined not to release his first whisky until it was well and truly ready. This came to pass in 2018 when the first bottling, a 12-year-old, was released and sold by ballot.
One of the best descriptions that I have seen of Daftmill Distillery is that it is Scotland’s oldest new distillery, at the forefront of the modern Scottish distilling boom along with Kilchoman Distillery on Islay. The two started production just a few months apart in 2005, and both are situated on barley farms. But the similarities end there. Kilchoman started releasing its whisky in 2008, to finance ongoing production, and it also happens to operate a farm to supply some of its production. Daftmill is a farm distillery, in the model of those of the 19th century - it is a farm that just happens to make whisky.
Daftmill Distillery is located about 30 minutes from St. Andrews in the bucolic countryside of the Howe of Fife. A working farm, there is no visitor center, and the distillery is not open to public except by appointment. Nor is the whisky particularly easy to come by; only a handful of bottlings have been released in the last two years, most of them single casks. But there will be more, when Francis feels the whisky is ready!