Just one review today as we revisit Dornoch distillery.
Dornoch Distillery Cask #4
If you’re unaware, Dornoch was founded by brothers Phil and Simon Thompson who run The Thompson Bros independent bottler, and an award-winning whisky bar at Dornoch Castle Hotel. The distillery itself is situated in Old Fire Station on the grounds of the hotel. The distillery laid down its first cask in February 2017. Uniquely the distillery has fermentation times of up to 216 hours the longest in Scotland. With a capacity of just 20,000 litres a year, it’s one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland.
Cask #4 was distilled on the 5th of July 2017, and spent five years in a ex Journeyman Bourbon Octave before being bottled in August 2022. Only 86 bottles were released.
We’re finding a little nail varnish remover, foam banana, both orchard and tropical fruits, fresh green grapes and vanilla flavoured sponge cake. It’s very fresh and zesty, with the alcohol being present but in no way overpowering. The smaller cask has really imparted a host of aromas, but we can still find some of those spiritous notes in the background. Leaving it in the glass for a while, and we’re starting to find slightly more wood aromas, a little must and a touch of white pepper.
The initial palate is quite peppery, there’s a fair bite of alcohol but it’s more of a spritz-like fizz rather than a chilli burn. We’re finding heaps of apples and pears, a touch of tangerine and simple syrup. There’s also a good amount of vanilla sugar coming from the fresh cask. Going back, we’re finding oak spice, white wine and white chocolate. The mouthfeel is nice, not overly textured or oily but there’s some body behind the dram - impressive for the age. The finish has a medium length and we’re finding brioche buns drizzled with runny honey lingering on.
Nose (with water)
We’re finding there’s a touch more yeasty/bready aromas coming through now, but there’s still a good amount of the fruitiness remaining after the reduction. There’s also freshly cut pineapple appearing, but otherwise, we’re not finding too much difference.
Palate (with water)
Water has brought out much more oak, but not in a bitter way, it’s more like sweet vanilla wood. We don’t usually find that sort of flavour when adding water, it usually brings much of a bitterness but we’re pleasantly surprised. Similar to the reduced nose, more of the tropical fruits are appearing now, but there’s still a good hit of peppery alcohol present.
There’s a wonderful nose on this dram, although we find the palate a touch too peppery showing the younger age of the whisky. It reminded us somewhat of Auchentoshan, with a triple-distilled style lightness and fruitiness, but still maintained a nice body and weight on the palate. We’re very excited to see what the Dornoch spirit can do as it continues to age, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this distillery.
If you're based in the UK and want to try a dram of this, we've still got a few available on our dram club.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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