A Dram for Every Occasion
A Review of the Singleton of Glendullan
Last week we started our reviews with a very complex whisky that balanced a long time in the barrel, peat smoke, and double maturation (aging in two different cask types). Overall, a fantastic dram, but one that probably requires some context or experience with peated malts to enjoy completely. This week, we want to showcase a bit of a less common whisky that is enjoyable no matter what the situation.
Our introduction to the Singleton came at a WhiskyFest event years ago. WhiskyFest and other large tasting events are huge showcases where dozens of distilleries will allow you to sample drams from across their range. If you have ever attended one of these larger tasting events, you can relate to how they can become overwhelming at first. Ambling through the aisles of endless choices, Leonidas was flagged down by a man in a full kilt representing the Singleton. The representative recognized that Leonidas looked a bit lost and gave him a pour of the Singleton Glendullan 12, indicating that it would be a perfect dram to get his bearings with. We’ve had a bottle in our cabinet ever since.
The Singleton can get a little confusing. The distillery has been in operation under various names since 1897. From 2006 on, The Singleton (now a Diageo brand) has encompassed three brands with slightly different styles and ranges—Dufftown, Glen Ord, and Glendullan. Each brand is marketed in a different region, and the Glendullan is the range that is marketed in the US. Featuring 12, 15, and 18 year-old varieties, the Singleton of Glendullan is aged primarily in American ex-bourbon oak with a portion aged in European ex-sherry casks.
The heritage and location of the Glendullan facilities complement the all-purpose nature of this whisky. The distillery is located in Speyside, a sub-region of the Highlands region that produces some of the highest volumes and most recognizable brands of scotch whisky. If you’ve had a glass of Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, Macallan, or Balvenie, you’ve had a Speyside whisky. While they have a large range with special bottlings using different casks, Speyside whiskies tend to be fruity, delicate, and light.
The Singleton of Glendullan 12 Year Old
In a continuing evolution, the The Singleton has updated their packaging. So if you go to the distillery’s website or search for it on store shelves, you may notice the label differs from the one in photos here. We confess that our bottle is not brand new. Leonidas’ enthusiasm led him to buy a 1 liter sized bottle some time after the aforementioned WhiskyFest, and as such the bottle has taken a bit longer to finish. Nevertheless, the whisky has the same formulation and the flavor profile advertised on the website remains consistent.
On the eyes: The bottle is uniquely shaped, being flat and tall like a flask. Ironically, as you build a collection of whiskies this bottle shape helps fit everything into the cabinet. Both the old and new labels present simple and classic branding. In the glass, the whisky is the deeper orange-gold color of forest honey, which is a bit of departure from the lighter golden-yellow more typical of Speyside whiskies. The spirit is light and delicate.
On the nose: The aroma is very clear—fruit forward, specifically red apples and pears. The nose is light and pleasant (probably due in some part to being bottled at 40% ABV). Along with the fruit we detected some vanilla and sugar.
To the taste: The first sip is tart and clean with a citrus-like opening note, with the flavor of apples, pears building to match the nose. The taste is clean but not one dimensional: sweetness builds smoothly into a bit of cinnamon spice at the end.
And the finish: As the spice fades we taste vanilla along with a lingering oakiness. The finish is clean and light.
As you can see from the tasting notes, the Singleton of Glendullan is consistent, clean, and easy to drink. The added touch of having some ex-sherry cask time rounds out the flavor and gives the whisky a bit more of an older, more elegant flavor and color than might be expected of a typical 12-year-old Speyside.
While it may be a bit harder to find, we think the Singleton of Glendullan is an excellent way to introduce people to single malt whisky. The flavor is balanced, clean, approachable, yet not simple or boring. If you can’t find the 12 year old, the 15 and 18 year old varieties are also excellent and each is increasingly complex. We think The Singleton is a solid dram any time of year, for any occasion.