The Single Cask Whisky Review #33: Miltonduff 1995 21 Years Old

September 11, 2016

The Single Cask Whisky Review #33: Miltonduff 1995 21 Years Old

This week's review will be the third in a four-part series which features the new range of bottlings under The Single Cask brand. The four expressions are as follows:

- Glentauchers 2002 14 Years Old

- Glen Keith 1995 20 Years Old

- Miltonduff 1995 21 Years Old

- Invergordon 1988 27 Years Old

The third bottle to be featured is the Miltonduff 1995 21 Years Old expression which has been bottled for the bar.

Miltonduff distillery was founded in 1824 by Andrew Peary and Robert Bain, who had obtained a licence to distill whisky on the site of the former illicit Miltonduff farm distillery. The illicit facility had formerly been known as Milton distillery until the Duff family purchased the land on which the distillery stood and then proceeded to change the name to Miltonduff.

The distillery underwent a series of ownership changes over the next century before being purchased in 1936 by the legendary Hiram Walker, which then transferred ownership to its newly acquired subsidiary, George Ballantine & Son.

Hiram Walker had acquired George Ballantine & Son (and their Ballantine's brand of blended Scotch whisky) the year before and followed up the acquisition of Miltonduff by purchasing the Dumbarton grain distillery in Glasgow 2 years later.

The history of Dumbarton distillery (which was closed in 2002 and subsequently demolished) is closely linked to that of Miltonduff by the presence of one man, Alistair Cunningham.

Cunningham started his career at Hiram Walker in 1942 and his first place of work was at Dumbarton distillery. During his 50 years in the company, he rose to the top echelon and became managing director of Hiram Walker Scotland.

Along the way, he partnered with Arthur Warren to create the Lomond still, which was a column still that was able to distill different styles of whisky due to the presence of adjustable plates.

Two of these Lomond stills were installed at Miltonduff distillery and were used to produce the rare and unusual Mosstowie single malt whisky (which is highly sought after by collectors and independent bottlers alike).

Unfortunately, the Lomond still never caught on (primarily due to the difficulty in cleaning the adjustable plates) and those at Miltonduff were dismantled in 1981. The only two functioning Lomond stills in Scotland are currently being used at Scapa (without the adjustable plates) for whisky production and at Bruichladdich for the production of The Botanist gin.

Hiram Walker and its subsidiaries were purchased by Allied Lyons in 1986 and the introduced a line of whiskies under the name of Caledonian Malts in an attempt to rival the Classic Malts series of United Distillers. The initial lineup included whiskies from Tormore, Glendronach, Laphroaig and Miltonduff, although Tormore was later replaced by Scapa.

 Allied Lyons was later renamed as Allied Domecq and was eventually purchased by Pernod Ricard in 2002 along with Seagrams and Chivas Brothers, thus consolidating the Chivas Regal and Ballantine's brands as well as a multitude of distilleries under one owner.

Miltonduff is one of the four signature malts within the Ballantine's blend (along with Glenburgie, Scapa and Glentauchers) and this was highlighted when Pernod Ricard released a special Miltonduff version of Ballantine's 17 Years Old as part of their Signature Distillery Editions range.

In terms of equipment, the distillery sports an 8-tonne full lauter mash tun with a copper dome, 16 stainless steel washbacks and 3 pairs of stills. The wash stills have thermo compressors attached to the external heaters on the wash stills and this helps to generate up to 40% of the steam required to heat the stills.

The distillery has a total annual production capacity of 5.8 million litres of pure alcohol and is currently running at close to full capacity on a 7 day a week schedule in order to keep up production for the various blends it supplies.

 This week's review focuses on the Miltonduff 1995 21 Years Old expression which has been bottled at a standard abv of 45.8% for The Single Cask.

The Single Cask Miltonduff 1995 21 Years Old (45.8% abv)

Colour: Deep bronze

Nose: Initial entry presents an alcoholic note coupled with a certain fruitiness that is reminiscent of limes and oranges. Vanillic and oaky, with a fair bit of cinnamon (which is to be expected as this has been drawn from a first-fill bourbon cask). With time, certain tropical fruits such as kiwis, mangoes and apricots emerge followed by a dollop of sweet malt, barley sugar and black pepper.

Palate: Rich, sweet and rather smooth, with chewy malt, cinnamon, oak and barley sugar intermingling with the lime and orange notes. The tropical fruit notes from the nose also emerge on the palate and combine beautifully with the vanilla, which has a hint of acetone attached to it. Black pepper adds a touch of heat to the palate and it lingers for quite a while.

Finish: Long, lingering and spicy finish, with the tropical fruit notes and the barley sugar yielding to the cinnamon and black pepper along with the vanilla and oak notes. A very good representation of a bourbon-matured whisky.

Balance: A very well-balanced and complex dram which provides a veritable gauntlet of different aromas and flavours. The first-fill bourbon cask has definitely played an immense part in crafting a complex and enjoyable whisky and it is intensely warming. The mouthfeel is initially oily but does get increasingly dry over time.

The Single Cask Miltonduff 1995 21 Years Old is available for purchase by the bottle and the dram for in-bar consumption and by the bottle for retail/takeaway purposes. Please approach our friendly staff for more information and they will be more than happy to assist you.

Written By Brendan Pillai for The Single Cask 

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