MacDuff (Glen Deveron)
57°39'28.3716 N, 2°30'45.8964 W
1960 (although many sources claim it was 1962/1963)
2 Wash stills, 3 Spirit stills (an unusual configuration)
2,400,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Bacardi > John Dewar & Sons (since 1992)
MacDuff, Banffshire, NJ694633
Below, on Whiskyfun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
1) The company P. Morrison Ltd. (of 'Bowmore' fame) had an interest in Macduff between 1966 and 1969.
2) Glen Deveron / Macduff is an important part of Bacardi's William Lawson's blended whisky.
3) The combination of two wash stills and three spirit stills is highly unusual in Scotland.
The only other distillery with such a set-up is the Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye.
4) Between 1970 and 1972 the MacDuff distillery had its own bottling plant on the premises.
5) About 10% of the entire production at MacDuff / Glen Deveron is bottled as a single malt whisky.
6) Macduff is one of the 'industrial' distilleries of Bacardi. The pearl in Bacardi's crown (as far as I am concerned) would have to be Royal Brackla. The 'Green' Brackla from Sukhinder Singh is a particular favourite.
Macduff 2000/2010 (61.1%, A.D. Rattray for Whisky & Rhum, First Fill Sherry, C#5778, 60 Bts.)
Nose: A sweet and spicy explosion of fruits. A fantastic profile for a whisky this young. Hint of sulphur.
Very rich - and it maintains its cohesion for quite some time. The main impression remains: fruits.
Taste: Fruity with strong tannins emerging quickly. The wood plays a dominant role here. A bit harsh.
Score: 85 points - very impressive for such a young whisky.
Macduff 10yo 2000 (56.5%, Exclusive Malts, Dst. 15/10/2000, Sherry Butt #3525, 200 Bts.)
Nose: Rich, full and fruity - a sherry bomb. A tad rough around the edges though; pressure cooked.
Just a little sulphury. Speculaas? Quite expressive, although it's not as complex as it seems at first sight.
Taste: Rough. Fruity with quite a spirity burn. The profile matches the nose, but it lacks some depth.
Score: 82 points - my kind of profile, but it might have benefited from a bourbon finish for polishing.
Macduff 36yo 1969/2006 (59.1%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #3681, 120 bottles)
Nose: Rich & fruity. Complex with some intriguing vinegar notes. Wonderful development. 90's material?
Taste: Whew... The start is a bit odd, but it develops beautifully in the centre. Fruity finish. Quite complex.
Score: 89 points - what a wonderful oldie! Not quite 'perfect' enough on the palate for the 90's, but close.
Macduff 32yo 1972 (46%, Ian McLeod for Malt Brothers, Bottled +/- 2004)
Nose: Hint of dust, growing sharper. Old dirty table cloth? Memories of a greater past.
Taste: Bitter, growing dustier towards the centre. Stays bitter - and quite flat - until the very end.
Score: 65 points - to me, this one seems waaaay past its prime... Could the sample have been oxidised?
MacDuff 11yo 1990/2002 (43%, Cooper's Choice, 70cl)
Nose: Fresh. Grainy with a hint of green lemons. Unimaginative. Sparkly and stale at the same time.
Green apples? Very yeasty. Beer brewing aroma's. Cattle feed. Subtle fruits. Dusty. Mouldy. Peculiar off-notes.
Interesting, but not really my style. It's like the apple cider in the Glen Deveron has gone bad...
Taste: Flat start, becoming smoother, stronger and sweeter. Prickly. centre. Sherried with a big burn.
Lacks some depth and substance. Apples? Other fruits too. Gingerbread! Slightly sweet.
Strange, beerish burn in the finish - hop? The finish is sourish and starts to disintegrate quickly. Plywood.
Score: 75 points - at first sight, this is a slightly disappointing single malt.
But on second sight, the nose is quite unique - certainly much better than the Glen Deveron 12yo OB.
MacDuff 1988/2002 (40%, Connoisseurs Choice)
Nose: very sweet, reminding me of Southern Comfort liqueur. Minerals and a hint of peat.
Quite expressive to begin with and over time it opens up even further when organics join the party.
A very complex nose worthy of a score in the 80's.
Taste: Unfortunately, it was not nearly as impressive on the palate; dry and boring with beer in the finish.
Score: 77 points - despite the lovable nose. With a palate like this I can't really recommend it.
MacDuff 36yo 1965/2002 (49.2%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 512 Bottles)
Nose: Ooaah. Another 'old school' malt. It's hard to define, but I'm pretty sure now.
Many malts that were distilled in the 1960's show a fairly unique combination of traits.
It's a combination of subtle organics, something 'veggy' and maybe some smoke.
But unlike the Glenfiddich, this has an appealing (and growing) fruity sweetness as well.
Wow, after five minutes the fruit has taken full control. Christmas fruit cake. Wonderful!
Dustier after some more time in the glass. Dentist? Complex and extremely entertaining.
Taste: Hmmm. A little too 'piny' at first, but it sweetens out after a few seconds.
Pine and menthol remain dominant influences. Dry with a hint of oriental spices now and then.
Score: 87 points - I could have gone with 90 points for the nose, but the palate pulls it down by a few points. If I had a bottle of this it would end up on my top shelf and I would sniff more from the bottle than I'd drink.
Glen Deveron 10yo (40%, OB, 'Pure Single Malt', Bottled +/- 1999)
Nose: Sharp. Clean. Apple cider? Fresh maltiness. Quite dull, but lighter and more pleasant than I expected.
Needs a few minutes of breathing to fully develop. It never becomes very interesting, though.
Taste: Weak. Malty. Sweetish center. Not very pronounced. Occasional hint of vomit?
Light fruitiness. Bitter and slightly dry in the short finish. Unremarkable whisky.
Score: 68 points - MOTR, simply not a very good single malt whisky. Too bad.
Macduff 17yo 1978/1996 (43%, Signatory, Sherry butt #6673)
Nose: Sweet with some leather in the background. Polished. Antique. Organics.
Nothing very expressive here, but I like the 'austere' and 'antique' character.
It evolves very slowly; after ten minutes some smoke drifted into view.
Taste: Hey, not sweetness at all at first. Nothing at all, really. Then smoke.
It very slowly grows fruitier in the centre - this malt develops in slow motion!
After a few minutes of doubt I was finally sure: this has a pinch of peat as well.
Score: 80 points - despite the watery start and the slow development. Intriguing.
Macduff 1975/1993 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Old Map Label).
Nose: Smooth and creamy with lots of subtle fruits, growing maltier and spicier.
A classic profile with a little more 'definition' than usual. A faint hint of smoke?
The spices slowly evolve into subtle organics. Then it drops off after 5 minutes.
Taste: Ooh... Quite flat in the start. It powers up quickly, though... Solid centre.
Gooseberries? Burnt caramel? Dry. Gritty. Not quite as interesting as the nose.
Score: 79 points - The nose starts out great but most of the fun is over in 5 minutes.
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Macduff Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Macduff page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the dozens of Macduff expressions that were released in the past. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
2000 - Parts of the MacDuff distillery are rebuilt. Bacardi and Brown Forman (owners of brands like Jack Daniel's) join forces in an attempt to acquire the Seagram's
company which is for sale at the time. However, Seagram's is acquired by another impromptu partnership; Diageo and Pernod Ricard also collaborated in order to purchase Seagram's.
2007 - New boilers are installed at the MacDuff / Glen Deveron distillery.
An uneven number of stills
is fairly unusual in the Scotch whisky industry.
Most malt whisky distilleries have an even number of stills; one or more pairs of a wash still and a spirit still. In fact, until the 1950's there was a law that prohibited the wash stills and spirit stills being operated simultaneously. But laws have changed since then and nowadays distilleries like Auchentoshan, Talisker and Laphroaig work with an uneven number of stills. (However, please note that the industry keeps changing - and so may these details...)
In 1972 Glen Deveron / Macduff was acquired by William Lawson Distillers Ltd. (famous for
a blend by the same name), which became part of the Martini & Rossi corporation in 1980.
Clearly, the trends of 'concentration' and 'economies of scale' in the drinks & spirits industry
are not just recent phenomena. And in the case of Macduff distillery, the events didn't even
take place at the end of the corporate food chain; in 1992 the owners Martini & Rossi were
gobbled up by the Bacardi Corporation. They put their subsidiary John Dewar & Sons in
charge of the Macduff distillery. Dewar & Sons also controls (Royal) Brackla, Aberfeldy,
Aultmore & Craigellachie. Of these brands, only Aberfeldy was promoted as a single malt.
The Macduff / Glen Deveron malt whisky distillery is located
on the far Eastern edge of Speyside, but according to their
own labels it's a Highland single malt. Well, since Speyside
is surrounded by the Highlands on all sides (North, East,
West and the Midlands in the South), it's also 'technically
speaking' part of the Highlands. But those geographic
classifications can change over time - and if truth be told
Just like the classifications for whisky 'types' can change. As you
can see from the picture of the old bottle at the right, the phrase 'pure malt' was
used for single malt whiskies in the 1970's - at least by Cadenhead's.
As far as the confusion about the name is concerned: The distillery itself was called Macduff (probably after the Duff family who owned the site before the Macduff distillery was founded) and bottlings were originally released under that label. However, at some point DCL (Distillers Compant Limited, who were one of the predecessors of Diageo) claimed ownership of the Macduff trademark. After that point (possibly in 1994, but I'm not entirely sure about that), the bottlings of single malt whisky were released under the name Glendeveron.
In 1965, the number of stills was already increased from 2 to 3. The number of stills was increased again to four less than two years later and a fifth still was installed in 1990. That means that the Macduff distillery now has 2 wash stills and 3 spirit stills.
So it would seem that Bacardi's main focus is on the 'volume'
malt whiskies they need for their many blends. Based on the
official 10yo and 12yo expressions that I've tried in the late
1990's Glen Deveron / Macduff seems to fit well within that
policy (decent malts but nothing to get overly excited about). However, I've had the pleasure of sampling a few excellent
Macduffs that were distilled in the 1960's and bottled by
Douglas Laing and Duncan Taylor.
According to my copy of the usually dependable 'Moss & Hume' bible,
the Glen Deveron / MacDuff distillery was founded in 1962. However,
several people working at John Dewar and Bacardi have informed me
that the first spirit actually flowed from their stills on 30 June 1960.
At any rate, Macduff is one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland.
Even so, the distillery seems to have changed its name
than most other, much older distilleries. They kept changing the official
name from Glen Deveron to MacDuff and back again. The name of the
original founding company was Glen Deveron Distillers Limited, which
was a joint corporation of Brodie Hepburn (who were also involved
with Deanston and Tullibardine), George Crawford and Marty Dyke.
Is the distillery or