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Dufftown distillery takes its name from Dufftown itself, one of Scotlands several whisky capitals. However, despite being in the heart of the most famous distilling region, Dufftown is often regarded as a fairly mundane and uninspiring malt. This is mostly due to the fact that it...
Dufftown distillery takes its name from Dufftown itself, one of Scotlands several whisky capitals. However, despite being in the heart of the most famous distilling region, Dufftown is often regarded as a fairly mundane and uninspiring malt. This is mostly due to the fact that it is one of Scotlands larger distilleries in terms of capacity and that the majority of its making has, for decades, fuelled big selling blends such as the Johnnie Walker series and, most importantly, Bells. However, despite this slightly snobbish attitude to Dufftown, there have been plenty of fine bottlings available from the distillery over the years.
Founded: 1896 Stills: 3 Wash 3 Spirit Water Source: Jocks Well Capacity: 4 Million Litres Owners: Diageo
1960-1979: Expanding The Beast.
Dufftown was a two still distillery from most of its life until 1974 when the number was doubled to four. The stills had already been modernised in 1967 when they were converted from direct firing to steam and from worm tubs to condensers. There was further expansion in 1979 when the number of stills was brought up to six. This made Dufftown the largest distillery in Diageo's portfolio in terms of sheer capacity.
There are a few examples of Dufftown from when it was a more old-style, two still distillery pre 67. Most of them show a drier, more robust style of malt but not as intensely old school as many other whiskies from this era. The similarity to modern Dufftown is still apparent which is unusual. There are some excellent aged examples in sherry and some of the OB bottlings from the seventies and early eighties are very interesting snapshots of malt whisky in a transitional phase. They often display typically old-style mineral and wax qualities but also some, often imbalanced, elements of sweetness, porridge, and spice. Very fascinating drams if you can try them.
1980-Present: Bells or Bust.
Dufftown has spent the years since its last major refit quietly churning out masses of easy-drinking malt to bulk out Diageos various blends. There have been a few official bottlings of it but they are scarce and low profile. The Flora & Fauna 12yo from the mid-nineties onwards was a good entry-level malt, full of malty sweetness, floral notes, and tasty honey notes. Similarly, there have been bottlings under Diageo's, occasionally contentious, Singleton brand. The Singleton of Dufftown 12yo appeared a few years ago and offers a more herbaceous and citrusy look at the distillate, like the F&F bottling it is a very easy whisky, ideal for simple dramming when not too much effort it demanded. Most official bottlings of Dufftown show it to be a flawless, simple, and fragrant spirit that offers quiet satisfaction rather than booming personality.
There are not as many independent bottling of Dufftown as you might expect but a steady trickle has continued throughout the last decade. Highlights are a 1984 25yo by Signatory that will please many fans of big, beastly sherry but might not be for those who detest a slight dirtiness to their malts. A 1978 by Jack Weiber was also excellent and offers a more natural look at aged Dufftown. The younger expressions are very much in line with official bottlings although many of the cask strength examples show a bit more power and emphasis on the pear notes and sweet fruity aspects of youth with plenty grassy and grainy elements. They can be excessively fresh malts, very good in summer.