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This article is the second of a two part series looking at some of the new releases from Dràm Mòr, an independent bottler based in Dumbarton near Glasgow.
Dràm Mòr burst onto the scene in 2020 with some fine single cask Scotch whisky bottlings. Since then, they’ve maintained impressively high standards, even whilst diversifying into the world of Rum (read my review of the Dràm Mòr Foursquare and Clarendon bottles here)
Husband and wife team Kenny and Viktorija very kindly sent me some samples of their latest batch. If you would like to read Part 1 of this review visit here.
*Full disclosure: the whiskies featured in this review were sent to me free of charge. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the drams and the value for money they represent.
Glen Moray 10-year-old (Madeira Finish)
Glen Moray distillery stands on the outskirts of Elgin in the famous Speyside region. Starting life as a brewery, the building was converted to a distillery in 1897.
Today, Glen Moray is owned by French beverage company La Martiniquaise. The single malt has become known for various wine finishes.
Here, Dràm Mòr have bottled a 10-year-old, finished in a first fill Madeira cask. It comes bottled at 54%.
Smell: The Madeira cask is noticeable straight away. The nose is nutty.. hazelnut, walnut.. with caramel and vanilla. Cinnamon. Peach. Orange zest. Chocolate. Water brought out apple and lemon with a grassy, cereal note.
Taste: Dark chocolate and burnt caramel. Crema Catalana. Walnut. Cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise. Dried fruits. Oak. Tobacco leaves. Honey. Grains on the finish.
Thoughts: The Madeira has imposed itself well. It makes its presence felt immediately but with a little patience the character of the base malt comes through as well. There’s good depth of flavour and gentle, woody spice adds a suggestion of warmth without ever exposing the palate to excessive heat. Well balanced.
Value for money: An excellent buy at just £58 a bottle.
Tomatin 10-year-old (White Port Finish)
Tomatin distillery lies just south of Inverness. It was the first distillery in Scotland to come under Japanese ownership when it was rescued from closure by Takara Shuzo in 1986.
The new owners shifted the distillery’s focus. Churning out spirit for blended Scotch had been the order of the day for much of the distillery’s life but these days there is a wide range of single malt bottlings available, as well.
This single cask was finished in a first fill white port cask. Bottled at 53.1%.
Smell: Rich. Caramel and walnut. Dark chocolate orange creams. Blackcurrant jam. Honey and cinnamon. A splash of water released more aromatic spices like nutmeg and clove.
Taste: Wonderful texture full of natural oils with notes of blackcurrant and apple. Orange liqueur. Lemon citrus. There’s an intense chilli spice note at first but it settles as the palate becomes acclimatised. Water smooths that spice even more but the arrival lost some of its intensity along the way. Some chocolate and coffee notes coming through with water. Seems to get woodier the longer it sits in the glass.
Thoughts: This is a cracker. If you’ve tried Tomatin’s 14-year-old Port Finish, you’ll have some understanding of how well it can work. This one is spicier than the 14 and there’s greater intensity of flavour and a bit of depth from those woody notes and the white port doesn’t show in quite the same way a Tawny would but there is still a resemblance to the official bottling.
Tomatin often calls itself “the softer side of the Highlands” but that description doesn’t quite work here because this dram has body, depth and intensity. All the things I love to find in a single malt.
Value for money: In terms of official bottlings, £70 would be a bit steep for a 10-year-old. But this isn’t an official bottling. It’s a single cask bottled at cask strength without colouring or filtration and it’s pretty damn good. Worth the money.
Tomintoul 15-year-old (Calvados Finish)
Tomintoul distillery lies in the Livet Glen. It forms a duo of distilleries under the ownership of Angus Dundee Distillers along with Glencadam.
Official bottlings tend towards the lighter side of the spectrum but this 15 year old has been bottled at a cask strength of 55.1%. It was matured in a second fill sherry butt before being transferred to a Calvados cask for finishing.
Smell: Malt. Cereal. Muesli. Honey. Lemon & lime. Apple cider. Pear. Sweet pastries. Baking spices.
Taste: Apple crumble. Cinnamon. Drying. Woody. Black peppercorns and aniseed. Lemon juice. Apple juice.
Thoughts: Like Tomatin, Tomintoul can be a bit too light for my personal tastes but this cask strength bottling bears up better than most.
The Calvados finish is interesting and something I’ve only encountered once before, in Mackmyra’s Appelblom. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that one and I was a bit undecided here at first. It’s of decent quality certainly but I have difficulty with Calvados. Like many teenagers in the west of Scotland, I spent my weekends swigging cheap, nasty cider and I think anything alcoholic that tastes of apple now triggers some kind of PTSD from those dark days.
The dram is well rounded though and the Calvados works in serious harmony with the spirit. For a Tomintoul, it’s also got a little bit of texture.
Unconvinced, I left the dram to sit for a while. When I returned I found I was enjoying it much more. The Calvados doesn’t dominate and the whole experience is one of balance. In fact, Dràm Mòr have got the finish just about bang on.
Value for money: I’m not sure that I personally enjoyed it enough to pay the £85 asking price but that’s a matter of personal taste. I don’t see anything wrong with charging that for a single cask 15-year-old. In fact, it’s probably pretty good value, in today’s market.
A lighter whisky that still manages to offer up some powerful flavour.
For more on Dràm Mòr visit here.