Miltonduff

Miltonduff is a workhorse distillery mainly engaged with the production of Speyside single malt whisky for owner Pernod Ricard’s Ballantine’s blend, a fact acknowledged on the label of the most recent of Miltonduff’s official bottlings - The Ballantine’s Series - which first appeared in...

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Miltonduff is a workhorse distillery mainly engaged with the production of Speyside single malt whisky for owner Pernod Ricard’s Ballantine’s blend, a fact acknowledged on the label of the most recent of Miltonduff’s official bottlings - The Ballantine’s Series - which first appeared in 2017.

It’s unclear exactly how long distillation had taken place on the Milton estate near Pluscarden Abbey before the distillery went legal in 1824. After legitimising the operation, owners Andrew Peary and Robert Bain rebuilt the distillery and the Duff suffix was added when the Duff family bought the estate on which the distillery stands.

Unusually for a Speyside whisky, Milton Duff originally practised triple-distillation, and was still doing so at the time of Alfred Barnard's visit in 1886. It's sadly unclear exactly when the switch to double distillation was made.

Milton Duff distillery changed hands a few times before being acquired by Canadian giant Hiram Walker in 1936. Walker transferred Milton Duff to their Ballantine’s subsidiary and Miltonduff, as it’s now known, has been a keystone malt for the blend ever since. Miltonduff was acquired by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard) when the latter bought Allied Domecq in 2005.

Founded: 1824
Stills: 3 Wash 3 Spirit
Capacity: 5.8 Million Litres
Water Source: Black Burn
Owners: Pernod Ricard

Hiram Walker were known for experimentation at their Scottish distilleries and Miltonduff was no exception, receiving a pair of Lomond stills in 1964. These special stills, which consist of a pot with a rectifying column, were used to manufacture a second single malt spirit named Mosstowie.

Miltonduff was modernised in 1974 and the Lomond stills were replaced with pot stills in 1981. This marked the end of the Mosstowie experiments and gave Miltonduff a total of six pot stills that today have a production capacity of just under 6 million litres.  Mosstowie single malt whisky can still occasionally be found and is worth seeking out; there are several exemplary versions from Signatory as well as notable bottlings by Duncan Taylor and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, among others.

Today, official bottlings of Miltonduff appear infrequently and are limited to the Ballantine’s series 15-year-old and the occasional distillery giftshop bottling. Older OB Miltonduff is rare but sporadic bottlings were done from the 1950s onwards, generally as a 12-year-old or 13-year-old. These older bottlings are almost universally excellent and still crop up at auction.

Independent bottlings of Miltonduff are easy to come by.  The best of the early indie bottlings in the 1980s and 1990s came, as one would expect, from Gordon & MacPhail, Cadenhead’s and the Italian bottlers Sestante and Moon Import; more recently Hunter Laing, the SMWS, Signatory and Duncan Taylor have joined Cadenhead’s and G&M in releasing highly regarded bottlings of Miltonduff, demonstrating the spirit’s enduring quality while remaining one of Scotland’s most obscure distilleries.


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