This is [Bacardi~Dewar’s] The Very Dull Whisky Club’s first ever meeting. I spot a fair few Swaggers in attendance [on Zoom, page 6]. There are close to nearly 100 people present.
Global Brand Ambassador Matthew Cordiner is our engaging meet & greet. Distillery Ambassador Gary Ross takes over from Matthew once we are all settled in before Fraser Campbell [also a Global Brand Ambassador] takes the reins to take us through three whiskies. There appears little opportunity/invitation for on-mic interaction/participation at this very slick, well organised/thought-out, brand-driven event.
Why the name ‘The Very Dull Whisky Club’, you ask? Simply, John Dewar was born in Dull – further reading: wikitree. For the first ‘Very Dull’ session, we have one distillery-only and two travel retail exclusives from the Dewar’s stable. Let’s begin.
1] Dewar’s Portuguese Smooth 8yo  Ob. ‘True Scotch’ 40% WB77.50
Made up of whiskies from up to 40 different distilleries, this third-in-the-series distillery-only [didn’t think they existed anymore] cask-series blend has seen maturation in ruby port casks.
- N: With an easy-to-spot ruby port influence first up, we’ve a pleasing sweet nose, tannins providing some body. All good so far.
- T: Very easy, light [thin] body, though with some soft sweet sustaining malty pepperiness. It’s all very tempered at 40%, though despite the minimal abv, there still appears to be some residual [barley] oils,…
- F: ,… with enough clinging sustain into a fair tannic ruby-sweet finish – a fine substitute to oloroso and certainly PX. Furthermore, for the price, there’s some fair age behind this – perhaps even beyond the 8yo age statement.
- C: Sweet, tasty, and affordable, £25 is “mad value” [presenter], in-line with BBR’s ‘Sherry Cask’ blended malt [WLP].
Scores 82 points
2] [Macduff] Glen Deveron 28yo [>2021] Ob. 40% WB77
Described as Dewar’s “hidden gem”, the Macduff distillery was built in 1960 and is situated by the Deveron river. Of interest, the condensers – like at Dalmore – are mounted horizontally [see pic, from diffordsguide]. Further reading: Whiskymag
- N: Similar in style to Wemyss ‘Untold Riches’ [WLP]. In particular, oodles of lightly spicy fruity [green & yellow fruits in many forms] honey notes that only ever seem to come with long ageing. Someone also mentions this one’s likeness to Imperial.
- T: Very similar to the nose, it’s fairly soft – oh it’s bottled at 40%, that’s why. As a result, it’s like a frail old-timer that’s had his stick kicked away. He moves along gradually. On a positive note, there’s plenty of thoroughly-aged dunnage-y creamy vanilla-ey maltiness and with no ghastly cask finishing in sight.
- F: Very subtle spice, nutmeg, and cinnamon in an apple pie, “diesel” [Ashley], “with a little lemon juice” [moi], finishing on slowly oozing dry honeys,.. “yum” [Ashley].
- C: I never tire of malts of this style. Nothing inherently wrong here aside from the minimum abv, especially for around £240 a bottle. It’s left to me [and then Matt] to question it [in the chat]. There’s no official response, only a random comment along the lines of ‘because it’s for travel retail, it’s ok’ – discuss?
Scores 88 points
Craigellachie 1995 23yo Ob. Exceptional Cask Series Small Batch Limited Edition [3198 bts] 46% WB87
The last time I tried ‘standard’ [American oak-matured] 23yo Craigellachie was back in 2015 [around 88/89 points], but this is an ‘Exceptional Cask Series Small Batch Limited Edition’ which has spent some time in oloroso casks – perhaps even 100% like the higher strength edition [WB]? Currently priced at £412+ in the UK, can the whisky live up to its price-point?
- N: Irish-esque from an initial glance but clearly far closer to Glenlivet > Balvenie-esque in character, this is a creamy malt with Craigellachie’s well-known pineapple note [with all its huskiness] – all present and correct. A touch [spirit-]sulphury too? Yes, in a good way.
- T: More creaminess on the mouthfeel that comes with an easy malty > cereal creamy chew. The oloroso cask maturation element is fairly candid.
- F: The pineapple huskiness carries through, remarkably with no bite/sharpness at all. It’s the oloroso influence that appears to run the show from hereon-in.
- C: Bottled for ‘The Discerning Traveller’ [stated on the bottle], can the whisky live up to its price-point? Of course it can’t. As good as it is, I find it uneventful.
Scores 87 points
The Very Dull Whisky Club is a positive and attractive/affordable [£10 for these three samples inc. p&p] PR exercise/vehicle to show off and promote Dewar’s [latest] malts & blends releases. There’s a carefully crafted [varied/colourful] range and some old/quality stock, but who is it aimed at/for – the single malt enthusiast, the occasional drinker, or the ‘discerning traveller’?:
- a £25 blend bottled at 40%
- a 28yo undisclosed single malt, also bottled at 40% yet priced at £240
- [another] single malt aged 23yo, bottled at 46% yet priced at £412+ [£660 at WIO]
I may well attend future ‘club’ tastings, but with respect, my money is on the aforementioned 28yo Untold Riches Bunnahabhain from Wemyss, bottled at 49.1% and priced at £150. Having said that, the affordable Portuguese blend is tempting and has an age statement!