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The Dràm Mòr Group is based out of Dumbarton in the west of Scotland. Founded by husband and wife team Kenny and Viktorija Macdonald, what began as an export specialist has since evolved to become an independent bottler of single cask whiskies. The bottling arm of the business launched earlier this year with a range of intriguing drams from distilleries as diverse as Glenrothes, Glen Garioch, Benriach and Caol Ila. Now, with the arrival of Autumn, they are set to release a second wave of single malts, this time experimenting with some interesting cask finishes along the way…
Tomintoul 15 Year Old Cask No. 32 (56.1% abv)
The Tomintoul distillery stands in the Glenlivet Estate near the highest village in the Highlands. Owned by Angus Dundee Distillers, Tomintoul has spent much of its life since being founded in the 1960’s, producing spirit for blended scotch. In 1990 however, it appeared as a single malt for the first time and more recently, a full range has been developed. Unusually for a Speyside distillery, Tomintoul has produced a small amount of peated spirit since the early noughties.
This offering from Dràm Mòr was matured for 15 years in refill bourbon before being finished in a first fill Sauternes wine cask. Bottled at 56.1%, it retails around £95 (price taken from the Good Spirits Co).
Smell: Malty with butterscotch and honey. Vanilla and oak. Grapes, apple and pear. Lemon and shortbread. Baking spices. Water brought out some oak char with burnt toast notes.
Taste: A little prickly at first with lots of spice upfront. Honey, ginger biscuits and vanilla. Acidic white wine and a generous helping of oak. A splash of water helped to tone down the spice and accentuated the lovely silky texture.
Value for Money: Closing in on double the price of the official 15 year old bottling from the distillery itself and while the rarity of the single cask, coupled with higher strength bottling and Sauternes wine finish are acceptable reasons for a higher price, I’m not sure I enjoyed this dram enough to spend the best part of £100 on it.
Interesting this one. Water improved the palate but I felt it weakened the nose a little. Kudos however to the folks at Dràm Mòr for applying the finish with a sensitive touch because the Tomintoul distillery character remains in evidence and the Sauternes simply adds a little extra layer of depth to the experience. Enjoyable if unspectacular.
Glenrothes 9 Year Old Cask No 2850 (55% abv)
The Glenrothes distillery sits by the Rothes burn at the edge of the town by the same name in the heart of Speyside. Founded in 1879, the distillery first produced whisky on the 28th of December 1879, the same day as the infamous Tay Bridge disaster. Today it is owned by distilling giant Edrington, making it a sister distillery to Highland Park and The Macallan.
Dràm Mòr have produced something interesting here. This and the next dram are sister casks from the same distillery, very possibly filled on the same day with the same spirit. Each have been allowed to mature for nine years before being transferred to a second cask for a finishing period.
Cask no. 2850 spent most of its life in a refill bourbon barrel before being finished for four months in a Spanish red wine cask. Bottled at 55% abv.
Smell: First of all, there’s a lovely pink hue to the appearance, which I realise has nothing to do with smell but it’s worth mentioning all the same. The nose comes across a little spirity at first but there’s also a fruitiness, presumably from the wine finish. Vanilla and almond. Strawberry and orange peel. Grist and woody pencil shavings.
Taste: Where the nose comes across a little raw, the palate has more poise. Good depth to the fruit – Jolly Rancher sweets! Honey. Caramelised oak. Digestive biscuits and a big hit of peppery spice at the back.
Value for Money: Based on the price at deinwhisky.de we can expect this to go for somewhere around £60 – £65. It would certainly be an interesting dram at that kind of price. It isn’t perfect and feels a little raw, at least to begin with, but by the end of my dram I was enjoying the experience.
Comes across a little younger than its 9 years but a splash of water settles the heat down across both nose and palate. Even though the wine cask is rather sensitively done, I still get the feeling that it is the saving grace of a malt that would otherwise have been a bit lifeless. Worth a punt as long as you’re willing to give it time.
Glenrothes 9 Year Old Cask No 2851 (58% abv)
Sister cask to the previous dram, this one was finished for four months in Moscatel. Bottled at 58%, it will retail around £60 – £65 (price based on deinwhisky.de)
Smell: Honey and some berry fruit notes. Toffee. Touch of burnt toast. A bit nutty. Caramel. Floral and slightly perfumed. Lots of orange. Lemon and a wee bit of lime. Sweet pastries. With water some peach and pepper.
Taste: That nutty quality again. More caramel. Orange. Dried fuits – raisins in particular. Cinnamon and a wee bit of oak. A splash of water brought it to life, making for a more vibrant experience.
Value for Money: If the price does indeed turn out to be around £60 this will be a great buy. The standout of the batch for me. A delightful range of flavours that come together in a well-rounded, flavoursome dram. Great stuff.
I’ve never quite fallen for a Moscatel finish before but this was a really enjoyable dram. Good texture, good depth, interesting character and looks to be a decent price. Ideal.
Glen Garioch 8 Year Old Cask No 2697 (55% abv)
Glen Garioch (pronounced Geery) is a distillery near the village of Oldmeldrum in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Ownership of the distillery has changed hand countless times over its long history but today it is run by Beam Suntory, who bought it from Morrison Bowmore, along with sister distilleries Bowmore and Auchentoshan.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Glen Garioch from Dram Mor’s first batch and have really been looking forward to trying this one… Fully matured in a first fill bourbon and bottled at 55%.
Smell: Breakfast cereal and honey. Rich tea biscuits with caramel. Oak with some gentle cinnamon spice. Vanilla. Apple, pear and lemon. Good balance between spirit character and cask influence.
Taste: That delicious combination of honey and malt again. Almonds and vanilla ice cream. Caramel and buttery biscuit. Quite a prominent presence of oak for a dram just 8 years in the making. Water brings out apple and pear. After twenty minutes or so I started picking up citrus orange. Turns dry on the finish, after the juicy fruits fade away.
Value for Money: No price information for this one as yet, but a very similar bottling in the first batch went for around £50 so you would be expecting something similar. This is another lovely dram, full of highland character and well-balanced oak. The longer you spend with it the more complex it becomes.
Dràm Mòr have apparently uncovered a seam of Glen Garioch gold somewhere if these last two bottlings are anything to go by, though I think I enjoyed this one a little more than its predecessor. Nothing fancy or overly fussy about the whisky – just good spirit, given a decent amount of time in a good cask. Sometimes the simple things are the most effective.
Aberlour 7 Year Old Cask No 800914 (54% abv)
Aberlour is a wonderfully traditional distillery that sits at the heart of the famous Speyside region. Founded in 1879 by James Fleming, the distillery was later acquired in 1945 by Campbell & Sons. Later, Campbell Distilleries was taken over by Pernod Ricard and in 2001 they added the Chivas Brothers portfolio, bringing Aberlour under the same umbrella as Glenlivet, Glenburgie, Tormore and Scapa to name but a few.
Official bottlings of Aberlour are known for varying degrees of sherry influence but here, Dràm Mòr have produced a single malt aged for seven years six months in refill bourbon before being transferred to a Portugese red wine cask for a further four months. Bottled at 54%, it will retail around £80 (based on prices at deinwhisky.de).
Smell: Interesting nose. A wee bit of a sulphury struck match note (something I don’t mind, by the way) to begin with, pretty gentle though. Then there’s fruity wine – strawberry, peach and orange. Slight plummy note too. There’s honey and vanilla, a wee bit of malt a touch of oak. Water tones down the sulphur and brings some caramel and apple.
Taste: Big juicy arrival with a blast of woody spice. First impressions suggest the red wine is a little too dominant. With water there’s a sort of burnt caramel note and dry oak. After a little while some dried fruits came through with caramel and honey. A little patience goes a long way – the wine finish eventually lifts a little and you’re left with a more complex sip.
Value for Money: If the German price is reflected in the UK market it’s maybe a little steep for such a young whisky. Having said that, single cask Aberlour doesn’t crop up very often – even less so with a red wine finish – so I’m sure this will catch people’s interest. It’s also a nice dram by the way, especially once you get under that big blanket of wine.
Another month and this could have been lost under the red wine. As it is, the wine threatens to swamp the whisky but a little water and a bit of patience will reward you with an interesting whisky that’s quite unlike anything else I’ve ever seen from this distillery. By the time I finished my dram it had become really quite lovely.