We travel over to the west coast to look at two independently bottled single cask releases from Port Dundas. It's always a treat to try whisky from closed distilleries, so we're excited to see how these have matured.
Single Cask Nation Port Dundas 20 Year Old
A 2000 Port Dundas single grain whisky from Single Cask Nation, that was matured in a first-fill ex-bourbon cask for twenty years, before being bottled in July 2021.
Straight away we're getting the creamy vanilla sweetness that we expect from grain whisky, Its very cake-like, a nice Victoria sponge without the jam. The alcohol is quite apparent on the nose, but the other strong aromas bring it into balance relatively well. Going back we're getting some caramel and honey, maybe a touch of corn too. We're also getting some wood in the background, maybe some earthy turmeric but overall it's mainly sugary vanilla goodness.
The alcohol is dancing on the tongue as soon as we take our first sip, and we're overrun with rich vanilla syrup. There's a very prominent black pepper spice that lingers on the palate, maybe a little too spicy for us. It has a very nice, weighty mouthfeel.. very luscious. We're getting vanilla custard and a touch of lemon juice to balance the sweetness out, as well as some cereal grains. The finish has a good length with good oak integration and spice.
Nose (with water)
Lemon is more apparent now, along with butterscotch. The vanilla is definitely still there, but we're getting a woodier sort of vanilla, rather than a cake. The alcohol is still quite potent, presenting itself in an earthy, spicy way.
Palate (with water)
Again, the alcohol shines through in the form of citrus and white pepper, but the dram is a lot earthier now. We're getting a light coffee flavour with lots of extra milk, some runny honey and a little bitter oak.
This has all the hallmarks of a well matured bourbon cask grain whisky. There's no off-notes, but in a similar vein, it's a little simple with mostly sweet vanilla flavours and aromas dominating. The alcohol bite is a bit high and it's a little spicy for us, but we'd be happy to have another dram.
Lady of the Glen Port Dundas 17 Year Old
This release was distilled on the 2nd of June 2004, matured in a single refill butt before a 12 month finishing period in an ex-Oloroso butt (#73895) and bottled on the 3rd of June 2021.
We're getting some treacle flavoured toffee, nice juicy raisins along with an underpinning of vanilla and grain sweetness. There's some baking spices here, showing as cinnamon sticks and nutmeg. The alcohol is there but its quite faint, balanced nicely with the other aromas. Coming back to it after some air, we're getting caramel, an almond-like nuttiness and slightly musty oak.
We're getting creamy milk chocolate, a little toasted marshmallow, sultanas and a fizzy cola sweetness. It's quite peppery, on both the lips and the tongue. It reminds us of the classic chili chocolate combination done in a luscious chocolate sauce. There's a slight bitterness behind everything, possibly a bitter wood/oak, but it doesn't stick around too long. The finish has got a really good length with nice richness and dried fruit flavours.
Nose (with water)
Some of those rich sherry flavours have receded and have been overtaken by honey and a sort of woody herbaceousness. After some air we're getting corn, hay and a little more grain spirit than we would have liked. Where did the sherry cask go?!
Palate (with water)
Similar to the nose, we've lost a lot of those sherry flavours we enjoyed. We're now getting a lot more raw grain, white sugar and oak. It's not bad, there's good oak flavour here, but we're a little disappointed in the loss of the rich, syrupy sherry. The alcohol is still well balanced but the finish is a little lost now.
This is a lovely dram, not overpowered with sherry but just well balanced, rich and flavoursome. It's clear that it's grain, but a lot of that young, raw grain flavour is well hidden. Then you add water and all of those lovely flavours change and you lose a lot of what made it special in the first place. If you avoid water, this is an 8/10, but with water it drops to 7/10.
Score: 8/10 (without water!)
- 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.
Interested in trying drams like these? We've created the Two Whisky Bros Dram Club to help you get access to high quality, rare whisky by the dram.