Secret Spirits Advent Calendar Day 15 – December 15th
2009 MacDuff 5 y.o. (Samaroli)
Cask #900258 American Oak
A whisky from the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar First Edition.
Chances are good this will be the lowest scoring malt of the whole calendar. But that’s ok. There’s a reason for it and I’m still behind it. The thing is…you need to understand why it’s scoring low, and why it’s not actually bad whisky. More importantly…you need to understand why it’s important that it’s in the calendar in the first place.
Jonathan and Cindy – the team behind Secret Spirits – set out to take us on a journey with this advent calendar. They carefully selected whiskies representative of both single malts and blends…of grain whiskies and blended malts…of sherry influence and redolent of peat and smoke…of good old age and youthful feist. The latter quality is what this 2009 Speysider is all about. And it’s imperative for any aspiring maltster to understand what young whisky is all about, and what maturation actually contributes to the endgame.
I continue (much to the irritation of the industry, I might add) to campaign and advocate that all producers are held accountable to the consumer by putting all pertinent information on the label. In particular, age statements. I’ve gone on record as saying I will happily support whisky of any age, so long as it’s good and so long as I feel as though I’ve made my own informed decision to purchase and not been mislead by the industry’s marketing angle or sleight of hand misdirection. It’s for this very reason I absolutely laud Samaroli for proudly releasing a 5 year old malt from an obscure distillery. That takes balls.
This is a 5 year old MacDuff from Samaroli, and is another case where we have a distillery that can be found under two different names, depending on points of time and history. Whisky from this distillery has been bottled as both MacDuff and Glen Deveron. MacDuff being the more contemporary of the two.
Let me say clearly here – before we go any further – that this is under ripe whisky. I probably would have left it in situ for at least another decade or so. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great spirit cut and a malt with a ton of potential. It is. It’s actually very good whisky. It’s just not ready yet. Think of it like a kid who picks up the guitar and obviously has a flair for the instrument. Stage ready, by no means, but you know he’ll be rockin’ a crowd one day.
In this guy’s humble opinion this whisky is one of the most important inclusions of the calendar.
Nose: Just a hop, skip and a jump from New Make spirit. Razor sharp and immaculately clean. Wax and furniture polish. A lot of fruits here, but they’re very congested. With time they’ll expand outwards and show their colors. Barley sugars and white flour.
Palate: Just outta diapers, this one. Very synthetic. Very much like lip balm meets ethanol, but still enjoyable for all that. Odd, huh? Salty uncooked pie crust dough. A little bit of tangy dried cherry and fig. The grains are huge.
Thoughts: Definitely too young, but a neat showing of what the raw spirit is like in what I assume is a very tame barrel. Extra points for bottling a 5 y.o. and declaring it as such. Not quite drinkable yet though. Marks are technical, and an acknowledgment of great spirit cut and the balls to bottle at this age.
Bonus: My mate, Jonathan, and I are gonna blog on these drams side by side through the season. Here’s a link to his notes on the same whisky at SingleMalting.com.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
It does show why distilleries keep track of age, even if they don’t always want to discuss it on a label. We do need more of this kind of thing before the real debate about just how good young whisky is can even begin – even though, wherever it’s currently discussed, the industry usually wants to declare youthful victory on all fronts.