What is the first thing that comes into mind when you think of Murray McDavid’s independent bottlings? To me it is they’re affinity for finishing whisky in former wine casks. That’s easily explained actually, as Murray McDavid was founded by Mark Reynier, Simon Coughlin and Gordon Wright, who went on to buy Bruichladdich. In the case of Mark Reynier especially, his past in the wine trade and fondness for wine matured whisky is well documented.
Since 2013, Murray McDavid is part of Aceo Limited, a whisky broker that supplies many of the (smaller) independent bottlers with casks. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of spending a little time with two of their brand ambassadors at the Whiskybase Gathering. Dean Jode is a familiar face for many and has been with the company for almost five years. He is also involved in selecting single casks and creating blends. João Pedro Medeiros (JP for short) had just joined Murray McDavid a few days prior—the Gathering was actually his first festival in his new role.
I should’ve asked a little more about their approach and philosophy, but alas, I didn’t. I do know it’s people like Dean and JP that play a key role at spreading the Murray McDavid word. To be honest, Murray McDavid wasn’t at the top of my list when looking for new additions to my own whisky cabinet, in large part because of my prejudice towards wine maturation, even though in recent months I seem to have adjusted that attitude somewhat.
But after my experience with Murray McDavid at the Whiskybase Gathering, I now have a renewed appreciation for them. Much like a great tour guide during a distillery visit can vastly improve your personal opinion of a distillery, a good brand ambassador can do the same for an independent bottler.
In recent years Murray McDavid has focused on creating small batch blended whiskies. I’ve tried a few so far, and have quite enjoyed them, but up until now haven’t reviewed any on my blog. That’s about to change with a closer look at the second batch of The Speysiders, part of Murray McDavid’s The Vatting series.
The Speysiders is created from four different whiskies from the Speyside region; two first-fill bourbon casks from Linkwood and Glenlossie, one sherry hogshead from Craigellachie and one red wine cask from Miltonduff. It was finished in sherry butts. Only 1553 bottles are available.
The Speysiders 2009 Batch #2 (46%, Murray McDavid, 1553 bts.)
Nose: Biscuits and oats with a hint of apples, but also honey and rum-soaked raisins. Also a hint of copper coins and pickled lemon peel. Taste: A touch of raw sugar combined with white pepper, followed by a whisper of peach, apricots and raisins, as well as a hint of honey. Finish: Spicy with a lingering sweetness.
Fairly balanced Speysider with enough oomph to keep my interest. I’d label this a success. More importantly, I’m very curious to try more of their blends!