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Dailuaine is a little known Speyside distillery that should perhaps hold a far higher status in the world of scotch whisky than it currently does. Though built in 1851 by William Mackenzie, it is the 1884 rebuild under the guidance of local architect Charles Doig that cements its place in the history books.
Charles Cree Doig was born on a farm in the county of Angus in 1855. After a successful school career during which his academic talents had become apparent, he married and moved to Elgin, where he would take employment with land surveyor Harbourne Marius Strachan. Within a few years he had risen to become a partner and by 1890, he was running his own practice at the age of 35.
Doig’s success, and location, placed him right at the centre of the late 19th century Speyside whisky boom and he began to specialise in the design of modern, innovative distilleries. By the end of his illustrious career he would be involved with a total of 56 projects across all of Scotland – from Highland Park in Orkney to Ardbeg on the isle of Islay – but it was at Dailuaine that his legacy was truly born.
On the 3 May 1889, Doig pitched a radical new design for a kiln roof to the distillery owners. His pagoda-like structure would pull air up and out of the building, feeding the fire below and helping to pull the smoke through the barley that lay spread on the perforated upper floor. His aesthetically pleasing design was quickly approved and would go on to become the single most recognisable architectural identifier associated with the distilleries of Scotland.
Tragically, this first example of the ‘Doig ventilator’ was completely destroyed by fire in 1917, a year before the great man himself passed away. Fortunately, fine examples of his work remain scattered throughout the country whilst his influence is so great that newer distilleries, like Isle of Arran for example, have crowned their buildings with purely cosmetic pagodas in tribute.
As for Dailuaine, the distillery came under the ownership of DCL by the time of the fire and remains a part of descendant company Diageo today. The vast majority of its spirit is swallowed up by the blending industry, with a lone bottle of 16 year old malt available as part of the Flora & Fauna range.
Here however, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society present a single cask offering, aged for 10 years in a refill bourbon barrel before bottling at a whopping 62.4%. Available to society members for a price of £51.40.
*Full Disclosure: As an affiliate of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I can be paid commission should anyone choose to become a member or buy bottles that I have reviewed. I was sent this sample so that I could share my thoughts with my readers but will always strive to remain as impartial as possible in my review.
Smell: Lemon drizzle cake with a fresh dusting of cinnamon. Light heather honey and creme brûlée. Fresh bread. Splash of zingy lime juice.
Taste: Butter pastry with honey and fresh orange. Bourbon. Liquorice and fiery black pepper with a touch of drying oak at the finish.
Thoughts: A 10 year old spirit from a refill bourbon barrel possibly reads as a little pedestrian on paper but in fact, this zingy little number is a real character that continues to surprise the longer it rests in the glass. A little charmer.
I’m not sure what I expected, but I was very pleasantly surprised by this flavoursome little treat. All chewy bourbon and fizzy lemon sherbet. Delicious and unique.
Buy SMWS Cask No. 41.115 here.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a unique members only whisky club which releases an array of new single cask bottlings each month. Members not only gain access to this monthly out-turn, but also to the purpose built members rooms in Society venues in Edinburgh and London.
For more information on joining the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, click here.