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Glen Deveron, or sometimes simply The Deveron, is the name given to the single malt produced at Macduff distillery, near Elgin.
In 1959, Government controls on the distilling industry, introduced during and after World War II were lifted, along with the rationing of malt and grain. It sparked something of a boom in new distillery construction that began with Tullibardine, the brainchild of Welshman William Delmé-Evans who later sold to Glasgow-based blender and broker Brodie Hepburn. Delmé-Evans went off to work on a new distillery on the Isle of Jura but when Hepburn later partnered with George Crawford, James Stirret and Morty Dyke to create a new distillery in the village of Macduff, they once more sought out the services of the renowned architect to design their new plant.
Macduff was officially launched on September 1, 1960, at a ceremony attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, local businessmen and women, members of the whisky industry and the local press. Its ultra-modern design came with a number of features that would have seemed a novelty at the time but have since become commonplace in distilleries everywhere: the indirect firing of pot stills using steam coils for example, along with shell and tube condensers and even a stainless steel mash tun.
An early adopter of the growing trend for single malt bottlings, Macduff was first released as a 5-year-old in 1968, labelled “Macduff Pure Highland Malt Scotch Whisky”. It enjoyed great success, particularly in Italy and France, reaching the number three best-seller spot in the early 1970s. A later dispute with DCL over the ownership of Macduff as a brand name led to the spirit being bottled as The Deveron, or Glen Deveron, though modern independent bottlings will usually carry the original distillery name.
In 1972 Macduff was acquired by William Lawson, whisky arm of Martini & Rossi. They were in turn taken over by Bacardi in 1992. Following the DCL merger with IDV in 1998 however, the Monopolies Board insisted that it sell off some of its estate, including John Dewar & Sons, which Bacardi was only too happy to gobble up. Since then, Macduff has been under the Dewar’s stable, producing predominantly for the blending industry, most notably for the William Lawson’s brand, which though largely unheard of in the UK, sells around 15 million bottles every year.
Since 2014 however, Bacardi has shown more of an interest in entering the single malt market. Their Last Great Malts of Scotland initiative saw an update to the packaging of Aberfeldy and an expansion of the Craigellachie range. Last but by no means least was The Deveron, given a fresh look in opaque green bottles that carried 10, 12 and 18 year age statements.
A more recent expression came in the form of a 28-year-old, released as part of the Royal Burgh Collection. Bottled at 40% it retailed for around £220.
Smell: Honey and caramel. Foam bananas and marshmallows. Ripe apples and lemon. Breakfast cereal. Toffee. Marzipan. Buttery pastry. Sawdust.
Taste: Toffee apples. Red berries. Pear. Mango. Some gentle spice. There’s some oak but it’s fairly subtle. Wee bit of pepper on the finish.
Thoughts: An asking price of £220 seems fairly in line with similarly aged bottlings. Personally though, I would be looking for something a little more than 40% for that price.
It’s not a bad whisky but it lacks the sort of intensity and depth that I would expect for this kind of money. I suppose it would make sense if you were looking for an impressive age statement that wouldn’t challenge your palate too much but for me, there are far more affordable ways to pick up easy sipping whiskies.
It’s always a pleasure to sample a dram of this kind of age, but I won’t be rushing out to try it again.