The dawn of Daftmill

It’s been a while and my whisky notes backlog grows & grows. Now back a my desk for the time being, I’ll be concentrating on a few of the newer distilleries.


I visited Daftmill in the summer of 2016 [blog], wondering what the long term results of those smaller casks would be, and whether Francis Cuthbert would ever even release his whisky. The release, as we all know, did occur in May 2018 with the help of Berry Bros. & Rudd. I caught up with Francis at the Edinburgh Fringe to see what he’d brought along to the show a few months down the line.

Francis looked suitably relaxed at the rather humid, raucous yet remarkable Fringe event, proud I’m sure of the positive response he has received for his whisky. Positively beaming, he was offering up Daftmill’s second only release.


Daftmill 2006/2018 Ob. Summer Batch Release [1665 bts] 46% WB89.22[20] WF88

Daftmill 2006 summer batch release.jpg

  • N: Soft peachy fruity acetone floral.
  • T: There’s a unique, youthful floral complex at its heart. I find lots more here on the palate than on the nose, and this trend continues into the finish.
  • F: Oranges, more peaches, aromatic flowers.
  • C: Tasty & characterful juice. Good job, but let’s not get too carried away. Bottles of this batch were released in June for £95, going at auction a month later for a whopping £430. Francis tells me he still only receives £29 per bottle regardless.

Scores 86 points


Francis kindly pours me his under the counter ‘Half Time Orange’ dram. Pleasingly it’s the inaugural release.


Daftmill 2005/2018 Ob. Inaugural Release cask #05/02, 05/03 & 05/07 [629 bts] 55.8% WB86.16[21] WF89

Daftmill 2005 Inagural

  • N: Less overtly fruity than the second ‘Summer Batch Release’, but it’s still decidedly fruity.
  • T: That youthful & joyous bubblegum-ish fruitiness from the second release is again present, coupled with some chalkiness.
  • F: A fruity bourbon-aged tannic-sour, vanilla-savoury finish. 
  • C: I like this too, a degree more than the Summer Batch perhaps. We all witnessed the crazy auction prices that followed the release, similarly as bonkers as Ardbeg’s Grooves.

Scores 87 points


I ask Francis about his decision to release Daftmill [so far], exclusively from bourbon casks. He reminds me he hasn’t filled many sherry casks. In fact, only two in 2005 & 2006. He pours me a sample from one of them, decanted especially for the Fringe – a ‘Draftmill’ if you will. I tried one of those two casks in 2016 and noted ‘add water however and those fruity, estery notes Francis aims to capture from a high copper contact start to blossom, especially from the sherry cask. The question is, how many years in first-fill oak will the spirit want?’.


Daftmill 2006/2018 Un-Ob. ex-oloroso cask #134 57.3%

Daftmill Sherry cask.jpg

  • N: There’s no denying this is a sherried nose with a deep fungal bed. Fair play to Francis who offers that he finds this a bit ‘over’, tannic and that the spirit’s natural sweetness has been lost to the cask. Given I often favour less sweetness and even bitter tannic notes, I suggest he might consider a cask mix of bourbon & sherry at some point. He’s already thought of that of course. It’s only a matter of time.
  • T: Given I’m a sucker for tannic dryness, I receive this with more joy perhaps, than Francis himself. This tannic character could easily compliment the more elemental/youthful tropical fruit notes from those bourbon casks.
  • F: Sweet to bitter-dry, the distillery character fruitiness is still maintained, I think.
  • C: Let’s hope Francis has been filling a few more sherry casks since 2006.

Not scored


Back in December 2017, reported that Daftmill’s future plans involve “four annual single cask bottlings and two 12-year-old whiskies at 46% abv – one summer distillation and one winter distillation“.

All eyes on Daftmill.


Further reading:





Daftmill distillery



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