New Releases from Dràm Mòr (Glenglassaugh, Inchfad, Ben Nevis)

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Dràm Mòr is a family-owned and operated independent bottler. Over the last few years they’ve established themselves as one of the most consistent sources of good, interesting Scotch whisky.

Their latest batch is heavy on the sherry finishes and features some intriguing distilleries. I’ll be tasting my way through three expressions below. More to come in a follow-up article.

*Full disclosure: The samples 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 dram and the value for money it represents.

Glenglassaugh 6-Year-Old

Glenglassaugh is a highland distillery, near Portsoy in the northeast of Scotland. Though originally established in 1875, it closed in the 1980s and didn’t re-open until 2008. The distillery is now owned by the Brown-Forman corporation.

The whisky is six years old and finished in a first-fill oloroso sherry cask. It’s bottled at 56.1% and retails for around £65.

Smell: Raisins and figs. Walnut. Leather. Toffee. Caramel. Chocolate. Treacle. Cherry. Wee touch of almond. Coconut – Bounty bars! Dry roasted peanuts. Cinnamon buns. Touch of oak when water is added. Even a wee bit of charcoal.

Taste: Rich sherry arrival. Luxurious. Fair bit of heat to begin with. Strong oloroso influence. Syrupy raisins and sultanas. Treacle. Honey. Orange. Black pepper. Oak. With water, toffee apples.

Thoughts: This one needed a wee splash of water to really come alive but that’s nothing surprising at cask strength. The water lightened the sherry influence a little but arguably created a better balanced whisky. Still intensely sherried but with some fresh young spirit finding its way through. Starts as a big sherry bomb and then settles down and mellows into something more interesting. Nice drop, especially when you find the perfect level with water.

Value for money: £65.50 seems a reasonable asking price for this single cask. Yes it’s young but it’s so full of flavour that it’s worth the cost.

Inchfad 15-Year-Old

Inchfad is one of many whisky styles produced at Loch Lomond distillery. It’s named after one of the small islands that break the surface of the famous loch. The name isn’t currently used for any of the whiskies bottled by the distillery but does occasionally pop up in independent offerings.

This single malt has been finished in a first-fill Amontillado sherry cask. It’s 15-years-old, bottled at 52.3% and retails around £95.

Smell: Fruity citrus nose. Peach. Strawberry. Honey and toffee. Fresh oak. Baking spices. Hazelnut, walnut, almond. Lemon. Biscuit. Caramel. Honeycomb! Grist.

Taste: More of that honeycomb. Chocolate too. Crunchie bars! Toffee. Honey. Orange marmalade. Woody spice towards the middle of the tongue. Turns oaky towards the back. Some dried fruits throughout. Red grapes even. Pepper. Aniseed. Touch of smoke on the finish.

Thoughts: Nice dram with some unique characteristics. I’ve seen Inchfad described as a heavily peated whisky in the past but that’s not the experience I’m having here. There’s a trace of smoke but it’s very subtle and only really comes out from under its Amontillado blanket at the finish. Picked up very little of it on the nose. This is an interesting dram that evolves in the glass. There’s a big, nutty sherry influence but it’s not overpowering and the character of the malt whisky can still be detected. Intriguing rather than mind-blowing.

Value for money: At £93.50 it’s the priciest dram in the batch. A quick search online found a small selection of other Inchfad bottlings between 13 and 15 years old, ranging from £52 to £99. Based on that evidence, this one is at the higher end of things but perhaps the unusual Amontillado finish can account for at least some of that. One for those that don’t mind paying a little extra for something a wee bit different.

Ben Nevis 8-Year-Old

Ben Nevis distillery resides in the town of Fort William, at the foot of the mountain that shares its name. The distillery has been under Japanese ownership since 1999 and much of the spirit it produces makes its way east to be used in various Nikka products.

This Ben Nevis malt is 8 years old and finished in a first-fill Pedro Ximenez hogshead. It’s bottled at 57.9% and retails around £80.

Smell: Big PX nose. Sherry. Oak. Dark chocolate – the real high cocoa stuff. Prunes. Sultanas and currants. Golden syrup. Orange. Cherry. Oak char. Hint of smoke. Old leather jackets. Cayenne pepper. Slightly herbal.

Taste: Sweet, juicy raisins. Followed by some prickly spice that develops into oak, dark chocolate and black pepper. A wee bit feisty at first but water mellowed it beautifully. Blackcurrant jam. Liquorice. Highland Toffee chew bars. Cola bottles.

Thoughts: Quite a typical PX-finished dram at first but there’s some wee quirks that keep things interesting. Some PX matured drams lean towards the sweeter side, some can be quite oaky, this one seems to land in the middle. That amount of sherry could overpower a whisky but the Nevis spirit can take it and still manages to add some nuances of its own. Rich, complex and very satisfying.

Value for money: £79 for what amounts to the pick of the batch. I’d be quite happy paying that amount for a whisky of this quality.

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