Dràm Mòr Independent Bottler
Dràm Mòr is a Dumbarton-based independent bottler of Scotch whiskies. The family business began releasing its own selection of single cask whiskies in 2020. Since then they have worked hard to establish a reputation for good quality drams. Their latest batch of single cask releases contained some interesting propositions.
For part one of my review on Dràm Mòr’s Autumn Release visit here.
*Full disclosure: The whiskies featured in this article 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.
Benrinnes 12-Year-Old Singe Malt
Benrinnes distillery stands in the heart of Speyside, near the foot of the mountain that shares its name. The distillery is owned by Diageo and much of the spirit it produces goes into the company’s blended Scotch recipes.
Matured in first-fill bourbon and bottled at 53.7%, this 2010 vintage will set you back around £72.
Smell: Malty and gristy at first with lots of cereals. Also some honey and lemon. Almost a bit of eucalyptus in there. Floral honey. There’s a deeper side to it as well, though. Plenty of oak – old and dusty oak. There’s an interesting cheesy note, which might sound awful but isn’t. Also some dark chocolate and cocoa powder buried in there. White pepper. Water brought out some nutmeg with lighter, orchard fruits.
Taste: Honey and malt. Toffee – toffee biscuits in fact. Does anyone remember Toffee Yo-Yos? Lots of oaky citrus notes. Vanilla. Caramel. Some peppery spice. Orange liqueur as it moves towards the woody finish.
Thoughts: Sometimes Benrinnes can have a little meaty note in the background but I wasn’t really getting that here. Nevertheless, it’s medium-bodied, has layers and there are quirky little notes that will intrigue you along the way. Perhaps not top-tier but I could see this one improving over time. Even in the course of tasting my sample it gained complexity the longer it sat in the glass. That’s the kind of dram that has you reaching for another in order to fully understand it.
Price: For what seems the hundredth time in the last ten years, the whisky market is going through something like a price surge and single casks in particular are becoming more and more expensive. Benrinnes may not be the most fashionable brand but given market circumstances, £72 is probably quite reasonable for this 12-year-old.
Secret Orkney 14-Year-Old Single Malt
There have been lots of “secret” Orkneys on the market over the last few years. That isn’t exactly a hardship, mind. In my experience the quality across the board has been very high and I’ve heard good things about this one, in particular.
This Dràm Mòr expression is finished in a refill Chateaux D’ Yquem Sauternes cask that once held Rhinns Islay Single Malt. It’s bottled at 54.1% and retails at £86.
Smell: Some citrus and white grapes. Sawdust and new oak. Honey. Wee touch of ozone / sea breeze. Vanilla and creamy malt. Cereals. Some distant, yet acrid, smoke. Some interesting spices in there too… Cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, paprika…
Taste: Fresh fruits. Apple. Lemon. Orange. That’s followed by some sweet honey and some peppery heat. Perhaps the power of suggestion but there is a touch of white wine about it. Touch of charcoal and some, at first, gentle smoke. With each sip, that smoke builds in intensity, although it isn’t a full-on peat monster.
Thoughts: More intensely flavoured on the palate than the complex yet gentle nose prepares you for. It’s nicely balanced, though, with a lot of different elements coming together well. Creamy to begin with, then the fruits cut through and eventually it turns spicy and smoky. It’s an excellent whisky. There may have been a lot of so-called secret Orkneys around but none of them quite like this. Usually, when I’m tasting a sample, I try to split it in two. No matter how small the measure, I like to taste it on two separate occasions – just to see if I get the same experience. That plan went out the window with this stuff. It was so good there was no chance it was going back in the cabinet.
Price: £86 won’t be particularly affordable for everyone but 14 is a decent age and this is a completely unique malt. There are whiskies two and three times the price that aren’t half as fascinating as this.
Ruadh Maor 10-Year-Old Single Malt
This peated Highland malt comes from one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Interestingly, it was finished in a refill white port hogshead before being bottled at 58.7%. Retails for £82.
Smell: Nice smoky highland profile. Burning straw. Grassy smoke. Malty and creamy. Vanilla. Biscuity – Hobnobs! Toffee. Campfire embers. Also some baking spices. Touch of citrus – orange and lemon. Even some apricot in there. Honey. Weetabix!
Taste: Malty with honey. Also toffee and vanilla. Oak and charcoal. Big, smoky finish. More of that citrusy quality. Some almonds. Interestingly, getting a blackcurrant note coming through as well.
Thoughts: I’ve had a few peated Glenturrets in recent times and it always surprises me how intensely smoky it is. The unpeated stuff always strikes me as being quite light, even a bit delicate, but the peated spirit is so much bigger. It even seems more full-bodied. Not an obvious port cask finish here but then I don’t think I’ve ever tasted white port, so how would I know? Really enjoyable dram, nevertheless.
Price: I don’t think £82 is too high for a single cask whisky with an interesting finish but even though I liked it, there might be more affordable ways to get hold of a peated Glenturret. I’d rather spend the extra £4 and get the Orkney!
For more on Dràm Mòr visit https://drammorgroup.com/