Port Dundas 20 year old (2011 Release)

Port Dundas 20 year old (2011 Release) 1

3rd times the charm….

I’m going to be on my best behaviour today, as I’m reviewing a single grain whisky. And if you’ve been following, every single time I review a single grain whisky, I screw something up and /u/UncleTobys finds something I’ve written wrong.

Thus I’m a tad more paranoid than usual. Which is a new state for me, as I’m normally really paranoid. Like, Fox Mulder paranoid, or one too many bongs paranoid.

Anyway, today I’ll be reviewing Port Dundas 20 year old (2011 Release). This is the first ever Diageo Special Release of Grain whisky. The story behind that amazing colour is it’s aged for 3 years in refill Bourbon casks, then split up, with each equal part of the cask aged in American oak Bodega casks, new charred European oak casks, or first fill American oak Bourbon barrels for 17 years. Then blended and sold to people who like to take chances.

Now, I’ve had multi-finished whisky before, and the results have been… mixed. I don’t mind them, however… well, I don’t know if all the effort is worth it.

Port Dundas itself is a mothballed distillery, being closed in the ancient times of 2010. Now it’s all owned by Diageo, and the grain whisky goes into Johnnie Walker, J&B, Black & White, Vat 69, Haig, and White Horse. Well, it did, until it closed.

Let’s see what I’ve gotten myself into…

Port Dundas 20 year old (2011 Release) 2

Price: N/A in Ontario

Region: Lowland

Abv: 57.4%

Nose: Grapes, vanilla, oak, citrus peel, soft cinnamon, violets, dark caramel, molasses

Initially there’s a big blast of grapes, and then some oak, and then some citrus, and then they all get stuck in the top of the glass and can’t get to my nose.

After giving it time to rest some more, you can taste the Lowland floral elements, however also all of the Bourbon vanilla. Oddly enough it eventually starts smelling like a higher end Rum too. Very confused.

Taste: Cinnamon, coffee, dark fruits, floral, salt, rich caramel/toffee

Okay, what the heck is going on? Is it all the finishes? Is it the single grain? Is it I’m actually having a seizure?

This tastes so similar to Dalmore 15, yet there’s subtle differences to it. More salt and floral notes, and less sherry influence, and I swear there’s rum every so often that I’d wonder if I didn’t clean my palette enough… if this wasn’t the first drink of the day, and I have waited 2 hours after I ate to try it.

And yes, I cleaned out the glass well.

Finish: Caramel, dark chocolate (think 80% cocoa or higher), cantaloupe, molasses, clove, bitter custard, plum

There’s an element of too much bitterness for the amount of sweetness at the end, which is my main issue overall with the finish. It’s nice, just that one note is out of whack.

Conclusion: This is a whisky doing a lot of things all at once to make a unique experience. And that’s a good thing. The mixture of finishes, the odd notes from being single grain, and the main Bourbon elements tie the taste and nose together to make a cacophonous tasting.

The finish needs some work, unfortunately. It would seem that all of the elements needed something just a little sweeter to finish it out. And while the Bourbon notes do tie it all together, this does have some moments where you question your sanity and praise Cthulhu a little too much.

Thus I’m docking points, and then working towards raising the Ancient Old Ones from their Deep Slumber to plunge the Universe into nothingness, as one is wont to do.


Scotch review #169, Lowland #15, Whisky Network review #220

One thought on “Port Dundas 20 year old (2011 Release)

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