Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
Dumbarton Rock is a new blended malt Scotch whisky from independent bottler, Dràm Mòr. It’s named after the Volcanic Plug that overlooks the River Clyde and the town of Dumbarton. Lying some 20 miles west of Glasgow, Dumbarton was once home to a distillery of its own.
The Dumbarton Distillery was built in 1938 by Hiram Walker. Unusually the plant was designed to produce both malt and grain whisky. The malt distillery within the grain complex was known as Inverleven whilst the addition of a Lomond still in 1956 allowed for the creation of a third new make spirit. Sadly, however, the distillery didn’t last. The Lomond still was mothballed in 1985 and the Inverleven pot stills followed in 1991. The grain distillery soldiered on until 2002 when the site was closed completely and demolition teams called in.
Some of the equipment would be rescued, though. A tip-off brought Jim McEwan and Duncan McGillivray of Bruichladdich to Dumbarton in search of spare parts at a low price. They filled their boots and even took the Inverleven pot stills and the Lomond still back to Islay. The latter is now better known as Ugly Betty and stands in the Bruichladdich still-house making The Botanist gin. The Inverleven stills eventually made their way to Ireland with Mark Reynier where they are now being used to produce Waterford Irish whisky. It’s pleasantly reassuring to see stills being recycled in such a way. It ties new distilleries to what has gone before and allows us to find a positive aspect in the loss of Dumbarton’s distillery.
The husband and wife team behind Dràm Mòr, Kenny and Viktorija Macdonald, also call Dumbarton home. So whilst the town may no longer have a distillery of its own, thanks to Dràm Mòr, its name is at least back on the whisky map, once again.
Dumbarton Rock Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
The whisky is a blended malt, bottled at 46% and retails for around £30.
Smell: The first impression is of toffee with soft wintery spices. Spice racks. Cinnamon. Ginger. Cayenne. Paprika. Apples and oranges. Peach and apricot jam. Malt and breakfast cereals. Fruit crumble. Touch of oak.
Taste: Apples and pears. Orange zest. Toffee and fudge. Runny honey on digestive biscuits. Gingerbread Men. Runny honey. Fruit (particularly grape) flavoured vapes. Pepper. Oak char in the background.
Thoughts: An aromatic and interesting nose that leads to a balanced all-rounder of a malt. For such an affordable bottling it carries some personality – it’s not light and safe like Monkey Shoulder, for example. Instead, it carries some warming spice and showcases some fruity spirit that seems to have had some decent cask interaction.
Price: £30. As the price of buying and selling casks gets more and more prohibitive, it’s lovely to see independent bottlers put out affordable blended malts of real quality. Dumbarton Rock is a good session dram that comes at an excellent price.
For more on Dràm Mòr and Dumbarton Rock visit https://drammorgroup.com/