The Singleton of Dufftown was built during the reign of Queen Victoria. And though the traditional methods, centuries of craft and ancient water source remain, Dufftown – the smoothest of the family of three – is on a mission to create new, great tasting Single Malt Scotch Whiskies that burst with flavour. The 1890s saw a boom in the Scotch whisky trade, and the establishment of this – Dufftown’s sixth distillery at the time – by Peter MacKenzie and Richard Stackpole. The two converted an old saw mill and, despite a few wranglings over the distillery’s water supply, set about producing a whisky so popular that it survived the whisky crash of 1898, the US Prohibition Act of 1920, and thanks to Arthur Bell and Sons, the great depression of the 1930s to become a global brand, known for its accessible, balanced taste. The Singleton of Dufftown is often described as possessing an exceptional smoothness, although the new-make spirit from its three pairs of stills runs spicy in character. Using a combination of American and European Oak casks at roughly a 50/50 split, the finishing rounds off that edge – evoking in some expressions nuttier, cereal notes of this Speysider.
The aromas are soft, inviting, dry and autumnal. There are nuances of sweet, stewed fruits (apricot preserve), ripe autumn apples and rich berry fruits. Soon, roasted nuts; hazelnut, walnut appear as well as wood scent, dry tea-leaves and fresh-cut pine resin. The fruits soften, revealing rich vanilla and toffee over chocolate and caramel. This smoothness is finely balanced by subtle cereal; neither overpowering, nor cloying. A little water restores the appetising fruit: blackberries, pears in syrup. Vanilla and polished wood too. The palate feels firm but full. Again it is dry and sweet, gently dominated by nuts, dark toffee and gentle mint, before the fruits return as rhubarb and apple juice. Becomes deep and mouth-coating; a hint of almond biscuit, then woody, light spiciness. Late dryness with a rich, silky cocoa bitterness, growing spicy. The fruits darken and run sweetly below. Water cools things; softer and less rich now, dominated by the sweet fruit. Very subtle mint and liquorice toffee notes.
As this is a richer whisky in the Singleton of Dufftown family, it goes well with copious amounts of dark chocolate. This is a Speyside that’s deep but not inaccessible.