Dramfool Girvan 15-year-old


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Dramfool is an independent bottler of fine whiskies, established by Bruce Farquhar in 2015. An oil industry veteran, Farquhar launched Dramfool as a hobby to indulge his passion for whisky but the business has substantially grown since then. Bruce maintains high standards of quality and refuses to bottle anything that he wouldn’t happily drink himself.


Girvan distillery was built by William Grant & Sons in the 1960s. Grant’s was flying high at the time and the Glenfiddich single malt had been successfully launched onto an unsuspecting market while early sales of their Standfast Blended Scotch were also going well. However, a disagreement with the Distillers Company Ltd threatened the supply of grain whisky. To tackle the problem head-on, Charles Grant Gordon decided to secure his own source.

A location was selected on the outskirts of Girvan in Ayrshire and production commenced in 1963. Charles Grant Gordon was the great-grandson of William Grant, founder of Glenfiddich. Like his relative, he oversaw the first spirit run from his distillery on Christmas Day.

Although Girvan was set up to produce grain whisky for blended Scotch, a small malt distillery was added to the complex in 1965 but after just ten years, the Ladyburn distillery had ceased operations. Today, however, the complex is once again home to a malt distillery. Ailsa Bay was installed in 2007 to produce a wide range of different spirit characters for the Grant’s portfolio.

Most of the spirit produced at Girvan goes into blends but the Girvan Patent Still series offers a limited number of single grain expressions. Like most grain whiskies, however, independent bottlers like Dramfool seem to offer the best way to sample the delights of the distillery.

The Whisky

This Girvan Single Grain Scotch Whisky was selected as the official bottling of the 2022 Spirit of Alba Festival. It was aged for 12 years in a bourbon hogshead before being transferred to an ex “Avian Gull” oloroso octave (I’ll let you work out that wee anagram for yourself). The whisky is bottled at 61.3% and retailed for £60.

Smell: A lovely mix of creamy grain whisky and sherry oak. Crema catalana. Coconut. Vanilla ice cream with salted caramel sauce. Gingerbread. Walnut. Leather. Tobacco leaves. With water, raisins and prunes.

Taste: Toffee and salted caramel arrival. Develops some spice – but no overpowering heat – ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper. Even some light chilli powder. Layers of rich, nutty sherry. Dark chocolate bounty bars. Wee suggestion of a wisp of smoke. Grain character returns at the end with wheaty breakfast cereals and honey.

Thoughts: This is a lovely dram. There’s a lot of stuff going on and it could easily have gotten a little messy but the whole thing holds together very well. You get a big dollop of sherry and oak but the grain whisky character is still there and there’s even a subtle whisper of “Avian Gull” at times. Surprisingly sippable at 61.3% and more intensely flavoured and more interesting than the vast majority of grain whiskies on the market.

Price: A totally unique Scotch whisky for the fairly reasonable sum of £60. A decent age statement and extremely limited out-turn at just 69 bottles. It was a no-brainer.

For more on Dramfool visit https://dramfool.com/

For more on Girvan visit http://www.thegirvanpatentstill.com/

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