Last year I wrote about the Whiskydudes inaugural release, an excellent Glentauchers bottled for the 10th anniversary of the Dutch Whisky Forum. After that promising start things quieted down. Sure, a Girvan was released as well, but the Whiskydudes retreated and re-worked their strategy. Now they’ve re-launched and are finally back. Or at least one of the whisky dudes is. With not one but three new releases: a Fettercairn 2008 12 Years, Miltonduff 2009 11 Years and Girvan 2006 14 Years.
So, originally there were three Whiskydudes. Now there’s just one but the name remains plural. Together they started out five years ago, joining forces to build a portfolio of casks. The philosophy of this small Dutch independent bottler hasn’t changed; they want to offer whisky lovers good value for money. As mentioned on their website, they’d “rather sell a cask and take a loss than build a questionable Indie reputation.”
But what happened to the other two members? I’ll let Edwin, the sole remaining dude, explain. “Well, it’s mostly a change of focus for the two guys stepping back, so no hard feelings there, Soren and Peter are still helping out when it comes to tasting and judging samples. Going solo shortens the lines [of communication during] the cask seeking process significantly by the way. Chances of missing out on great and great priced casks drop when [it] is a one man job.”
The oldest cask in the Whiskydudes portfolio is from 1986 and the most recent ones are still in their very infancy. Their selection ranges from unpeated and peated to single malts, blended malts and single grains. They’re not afraid to invest in good casks—which shows in the whiskies I’m reviewing today—and work with suppliers like Speyside Cooperage and Luso Barrel Cooperage.
All three of the Whiskydudes latest releases have been re-racked at some point. The Fettercairn spent almost 3 years in a fresh Kentucky bourbon barrel, while the Miltonduff matured the final 4 years in a fresh Oloroso hogshead. Finally, the Girvan spent it’s final 5 years in a fresh Oloroso octave—which shouldn’t work, right?
Fettercairn 2008 12 Years (57.2%, Whiskydudes, C#4608)
Nose: Bold notes of creamy vanilla custard with a whiff of lemon zest and tangerine, as well as a few light floral touches. Some whispers of burlap, porridge and honey too. Finally, there’s a murmur of fermented wash and maybe even some menthol. Taste: Creamy with a spicy arrival. The vanilla makes an encore here, accompanied by white pepper, caramel, merengue and just enough pickled lemon and sprinkles of lemon zest to keep things interesting an fairly balanced. Finish: Lingering spices and a whisper of tobacco.
Maybe not a unique flavour profile but it does strike the right chord. Proper first-fill bourbon maturation with the accompanying mouthfeel.
Miltonduff 2009 11 Years (57.8%, Whiskydudes, C#701506)
Nose: Richly sherried without it becoming too dry, there are notes of pralines, cocoa powder, pinewood and mint with a touch of cherry tobacco. Plenty of fudge, as well as just a tinge of figs, mocha and orange peel. Taste: Oily and sticky with preserved oranges and subtle wood spices like nutmeg and cracked black peppercorns. A whisper of Madeira and milk chocolate too. Water makes it even creamier and brings out apricot marmalade and an assortment of candied fruits. Finish: A touch of resin and aniseed with some orange peels. Long.
It’s the cask that does much of the talking here, but I don’t mind listening. While finished in a fresh Oloroso hogshead for four years, it’s far from as offensively sherried like some of those dark as coke young-ish single malts that have been finished for a much shorter period.
Girvan 2006 14 Years (56.7%, Whiskydudes, C#549521)
Nose: Just a touch of glue, which seems to be almost obligatory with any grain whisky. But there’s more. Reminiscent of bourbon in a way, with notes of triple sec, fudge, vanilla and charred oak. Very light notes of potpourri as well, but mainly coconut cream. Finally just a hint of coffee and burnt toast. Taste: Tingling spices with blackberries and caramel, as well as honey and triple sec again. A whisper of cough syrup too. Water brings out some beeswax and toffee with a touch of Maraschino cherry. Finish: Menthol, cherries and some milk chocolate. Long.
It’s as much the oak that left its mark than the previous content of the cask, as five years in an octave is generally too long. But somehow it works really well.
The Fettercairn, Miltonduff and Girvan cover a fairly broad spectrum of Scotch whisky, so you’ll likely at least enjoy one of the three. Promising re-entry by the Whiskydudes that shows an understanding of cask influence and whether or not a spirit might need some “enhancing” for a few more years.