Highland Hijinks – Glenmorangie The Duthac 43%

Glenmorangie is known for taking its typical highland of sweet honey, citrus and floral to play with different casks, particularly finishes, to create a different profile. The Duthac is one such variant – using a combination ex PX Sherry and Virgin Oak. Originally launched for travel retail, it was named after St Duthac who ‘rests’ near the distillery.

And what did the Whisky Ladies think?

Glenmorangie The Duthac 43%

  • Nose – Grape, initially quite restrained then heavy caramel, some clove, sweet spices, vanilla.. after the 1st sip the aromas shifted to plum skin, apricots, butterscotch
  • Palate – One remarked how it “crackled on the tongue” with the 1st sip then settled into a “typical” Glenmorangie – sweet, lightly fruity, honey, sweet spices with mild candied ginger
  • Finish – Slightly bitter, sits there with a linear yet solid quality
  • Water – Did absolutely nothing significant initially then a remarkable thing happened – the finish took on a distinctive watered down “Thumbs Up” (desi cola) taste!

Overall it was pronounced a terrific party whisky. After time, it settled into a yummy pudding pie or creme brûlée. Nothing exceptionally distinctive yet nothing challenging or off-putting. Nice, easy dram for more sociable occasions.

What do the folks at Glenmorangie have to say?

  • Aroma: Seductive aromas of pear, toffee apple, Brazil nuts in toffee, with an underlying spicy note, some toasty oak. With a splash of water, some creamy vanilla fudge is encountered, along with the classic Sherry cask note of linseed oil.
  • Taste: Mouth-filling flavours of milk chocolate, toffee, Brazil nuts, leather and some aniseed. The spiciness is definite, but gentle, with hints of ginger and clove.
  • Finish: The aftertaste once again reminds drinkers that this is a Glenmorangie, with vanilla, apricots in cream and some almond marzipan.

What did the Whisky Ladies sample in our night of Highland Hijinks?

Other Glenmorangie  sampled over the years….

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Deanston Virgin Oak NAS 46.3%

Our May 2015 tasting session featured whiskies from three countries – USA, Scotland and Ireland. We found the quality and appeal of this trio extreme from ‘disaster – do yourself a favour and don’t buy!’ (Hudson) to ‘decent but disappointing’ (Deanston) and utter ‘delight’ with “More! Please sir may I have some more!’ (Teeling)

The Scottish whisky was one sampled previously and earlier a favourite of our host. As always, we tasted blind so would not be influenced by anything other than the immediate whisky experience.

Deanston NAS 46.3% (Whisky Lady)

Deanston NAS 46.3% (Whisky Lady)

Deanston Virgin Oak NAS 46.3% 
  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Initially quite fruity with lime and vanilla, as it warms up, has a french lemony sweet aftershave kind of quality  – think Brut! The overall sense even before the 1st sip is that of a young, fresh, delicate whisky. After the 1st sip, whiff of crunchy green apples, nutmeg, strong honey
  • Taste – A fizzy tingly on the tongue, warm yet alas narry a hint of complexity, most found it a bit bland
  • Finish – Limited and sweet
  • Water – Nope! Don’t go there. Even diluting with only a few drops makes it simply too weak and waters down the light nose
  • Immediate reactions “OK but… maybe a good whisky for people who don’t drink whisky.” Ouch! Honestly, while there was nothing wrong with the whisky, it just somehow didn’t quite strike a strong chord. A few more descriptions bandied about were “bland” and “insipid.”
With more time to breath…
  • I used the lacklustre initial impression as an opportunity to see how it would fare after oxidating for 20 – 30 mins or so. Unlike the Nikka Takesturu 17 year or Chichibu French Oak Cask, I strongly suspected the Deanston would not improve with more time to breathe
  • Sure enough, a half hour later found the nose had dramatically changed to a pronounced sour curd – not in a pleasant way – with none of the initial fruity citrus sweet
  • On the palate? Remained decent but yes… bland

Our host shared:

“I first bought Deanston 10 years ago and it was excellent! Then my next bottle was about five years ago and it was so so. This one? (sigh)… Disappointing” 
I was curious about how this compared with our previous Deanston experiences, so I dug out our sampling records:
  • Deanston 46.3% in April 2012 – I missed this tasting session but another member noted how “We liked the bitter chocolate”
  • Deanston 12 year in June 2013 – For this one, we found “Nuanced nose with over ripe fruit, sweet and spicy on the palate, lovely finish with a hint of spice that slowly dissipated. Delightful!”

The label provides no indication of the year the whisky was bottled, so it is difficult to say whether the whisky or our tastes have changed so dramatically over the years. The only detail it does share is that it is finished in virgin oak casks and is un-chill filtered. I suspect the virgin oak element was what didn’t meet our collective palate.

Deanston up close... (Whisky Lady)

Deanston up close… (Whisky Lady)

In fairness, this isn’t such a bad dram… Unfortunately it just isn’t one that stands out. I’m a firm believer that whisky preferences are highly personal and it all depends on what appeals to your palate. Even though it clearly wasn’t the favourite of the evening, it was one whisky we could pinpoint as ‘Deanston’ even before the reveal. Which means something somewhere has registered as being distinctly ‘Deanston.’  Perhaps in a different mood, setting or a different set of expectations, it would shine more.
What others say:

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