Today’s whisky is another one we sampled as part of our NTSS Blind Tasting. This Duncan Taylor Octave release is a 7 year-old Miltonduff whisky that was distilled in 2005, so bottled +/- 2012, and bottled at 46% abv with no artificial coloring and unchillfiltered.
The Octave Collection (Octave Brochure) is a series of releases from Duncan Taylor. The whiskies in this range undergo initial maturation in white oak Butts (500 liters) and are then are re-racked after a number of years in ex-sherry Octave casks – an octave cask is one eighth the size of a Butt – generally for a period of about 9 months to 1 year. The smaller cask size increases the wood to spirit ratio and results in more interaction with the wood, ostensibly creating more flavors in a shorter period of time.
This is a first-time review (not the first I’ve had, just the first review) of a whisky from Miltonduff, a Speyside distillery located just outside of Elgin and currently owned by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard). There are almost no official bottlings of Miltonduff as a single malt, so what is available, at least here, are independent bottlings by Gordon & MacPhail, Signatory Vintage, and Duncan Taylor, amongst others.
Despite being another relatively unknown distillery, Miltonduff has existed, at least officially, since 1824 when Andrew Peary and Robert Bain obtained the necessary license. However, it had operated as Milton Distillery, an illicit farm distillery, for a number of years before the 1823 Excise Act made whisky distilling legal (and taxable)! The change in name from Milton Distillery to Miltonduff is probably tied to the fact that the land on which the distillery sat was owned by the Duff family.
In 1936 Miltonduff was acquired by Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts, then Canada’s largest spirits company. Hiram Walker acquired Miltonduff in order to ensure consistent supplies of bulk whisky for their Ballantine’s blended whiskies. And today Miltonduff continues to be a primary component in Ballantine’s, which is the world’s second largest selling brand of blended whiskies behind Johnnie Walker.
Review: Duncan Taylor Octave, Miltonduff 7 Yr, Distilled 2005, 46% abv
I’ve tried several Octave whiskies and, by and large, they have all been very tasty. At the same time, this Octave bottling contains the youngest whisky in their series that I’ve tried, so let’s see how this one fares! As I mentioned in my previous post about our Blind Tasting, I’ve left in some of the “guesses” I noted while tasting
Nose: Starts out with a note Creme Brule – sweet vanilla/caramel, a hint of fresh ginger – very different, in a good way! Rose petals, some oaky/peppery spice. A touch soapy? More floral notes and something slightly earthy. Water only seems to soften the edges without really changing the profile.
Taste: More vanilla on the arrival that I got on the nose. Sweet malt, more orchard fruits, a hint of dried fruits, soft oak, hints of herbal spices. (Young?) The body is moderately viscous, somewhat oily, but this is where the youthfulness seems to show up most. It is direct, honest and clean, but it is not overly complex.
Finish: Quite a nice finish, but again, not overly complex. Nice notes of sweet vanilla, the fruits, soft herbal spices, and malt. Reasonably long.
Overall: I initially thought that this was a Highland malt because of the fruits, but changed my mind as I picked up the floral notes. As a group, we ultimately correctly identified (guessed) this as a Speysider. Many of us pegged this whisky as being quite young, but we failed tragically on the distillery. In our defense, though, this is a single cask, it went through a secondary maturation/finish in an Octave cask, and it comes from a distillery without any real official releases, so……what can I say, we still failed.
Anyway, this was a very enjoyable, albeit young, malt, full of fruits and vanilla, some nice floral notes, and with just a hint of the sherry influence. Its youth is revealed by a slight lack of “finesse” but certainly a worthwhile whisky to try!
Bottler: Duncan Taylor – Octave Collection
Type: Single Malt
Age: 7 years
Maturation: Oak Butt, secondary in ex-sherry Octave cask
Price: $75 (Specs)
Sample Source: Sean H.
Malt Whisky Yearbook 2014, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media, Ltd.