MacDuff 20 1997 Lost Drams Collection Valinch & Mallet

What was the occasion: It’s a whisky tasting, and the driver of one of my buddies had a whisky to bring. Also it’s my yearly reminder that I keep mixing up Miltonduff and MacDuff distilleries due to my brains inability to understand the difference between two words that rhyme and start with the same letter.

Perhaps I’ll work on that in July. Or did I mean June?

What whisky did we review? MacDuff 20 1997 Lost Drams Collection Valinch & Mallet, which we should note off the start is not Miltonduff. Or at least I should. Now that it’s out of the way, what is this? Why it’s a single cask MacDuff (very important) that was aged in an ex-bourbon hogshead for 20 years, then released by Valinch & Mallet in their Lost Drams Collection.

What’s the distillery? You may not have heard of MacDuff, only because it goes by another name: Glen Deveron. So if you’ve had a Glen Deveron, you’ve had a MacDuff. Confused yet? This is why I get so lost.

Want to get lost ever more? Those funky lovely people at Dewar & Sons (a subsidiary of Bacardi) recently changed the bottle to call themselves just Deveron. So if you’ve had a Deveron, you’ve had a Glen Deveron or a MacDuff.

All fun for a distillery that makes 2.4 million litres of alcohol per year. Gee, I wonder why we don’t hear more about it?

What’s my bias? My bias? Okay, my bias has less to do with MacDuff itself and the owners and how I’ve encountered it.

Like, if you were attacked by dogs in your life, you probably have a different way of being around dogs. I, on the other hand, grew up in the whitest of suburbs where you got “tutted” for having a large dog that wasn’t well behaved and “tutted” for having a small dog that was well behaved (shit was fucked up). Thus my experiences with dogs is a positive one. Yours is a negative one. The dogs didn’t choose how to act, the owners did.

So we have a whisky that isn’t talked about too much, and when it has popped up, I’ve either been annoyed by the owners not sticking to one name (let alone two) or the people pouring it for me serving me something just okay when I asked for something good (twice). Add to that my inability to separate it from another distillery due to name blindness and here we are.

That’s all to say I blame the previous bad pours more on a recommendation that shouldn’t have been rather than MacDuff making nothing but bad whisky.

However this was poured by someone who actually knows whisky and wasn’t trying to get money out of me. So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: € 179

Region: Highland

Vintage: 1997

Bottled: 2017

Cask type: Bourbon Hogshead

Cask number: 17-0120

Number of bottles: 296

Abv: 51.3%

Colour: 5Y 9/4

Nose: Chalk, strawberry pixie sticks, cream, dandelion

So at first you get some minerality and some fruit, but almost like it’s the 1970s all over again, a ton of sugar shows up. I’m pretty sure my nostrils have diabetes now.

If you can get past the sugar, which let’s be honest, isn’t something everyone can do, you do get some sweeter floral notes and cream. That said, you gotta stick around, because for those of you who’ve decided to live past your 60s, there’s a ton of sugar you may not be used to.

Taste: Papaya, marshmallow, icing, strawberry jam, candied pear

You want sugar? You got sugar. We’ve got light sugar, tropical sugar, local fruit sugar, some fatty sugar, and some different stone fruit sugar.

Oh, are you waiting for a follow up, like an explanation that isn’t a joke? It’s not a joke. This is sweet. It’s complex and sweet, but it’s still sweet.

Finish: Cherry syrup, black pepper, green banana, grass

Tart, a bit green, and some heat. Oh, and the metric tonne of sugar (that’s like two Big Gulps for my US readers) is gone (much like a Big Gulp 12 minutes after purchase).

It’s still quite sweet, but let’s work on comparatives: It’s sweet if you ate clean for 2 weeks. It’s apple sweet if you just finished a pie eating contest.

Conclusion: This is a ton of sugar. Or a regular North American daily intake. Either way, it’s a lot. I don’t mind it, because my diet is broken. However I can still note it’s sweet, sweet, and more sweet.

But within that sweetness there lays some interesting notes. If you, like me, have broken your back on the man’s “acceptable” white powder, then you too can find it. If you can’t, avoid this like the plague. Seriously, take 5 points off if you can’t handle insane levels of sugar usually only seen at an 8-year-old’s birthday.

Has this changed my mind on the distillery with three names? Somewhat. It’s a good whisky for me, though I’d say if it needs 20 years to just start tasting weird in a very specific way, it’s not the glam up they would want. Oh well.


Scotch review #1637, Highland review #277, Whisky Network review #2368

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s