The Dumbarton 32 year old was the fourth whisky in the flight of five we tasted on the night. It was kind of weird to have it in the flight at all and certainly almost at the end after quite a few very strongly flavoured whiskies.
In terms of the story though it works out quite nice. Dumbarton distillery used to also contain the Inverleven malt whisky distillery. The stills from which were barged up the clyde and out to Bruichladdich where they sat outside and waited to become the new Port Charlotte distillery. Except, of course, when Bruichladdich was bought over that plan never materialised but they are in use now in Waterford distillery in Ireland which is owned by the previous owner of Bruichladdich Mark Rayier.
Hiram Walker built the Dumbarton distillery in 1938 after buying Ballantines two years previously. The purpose was to secure large scale production of grain and malt whisky for blending. The distillery was closed in 2002 and is now almost completely demolished on the site in the town of Dumbarton.
From the 1950’s the distillery was home to 100 Chinese white geese. They outlived the distillery by 10 years before being rehomed on Glasgow Green. The location being no longer fit for birds with a housing development now being built on the site.
The grain whisky was distilled before I was born in 1988 and put into an ex-bourbon cask. In over 3 decades the angels probably drank quite a lot of it to leave only 96 bottles worth left to sell. Although I guess this could have been a partial bottling of the cask. Regardless, the strength out the cask was still a fairly mighty 57.1%.
If you want a bottle you will have to move quite quickly given how few of these exist. I also know a number were snapped up quickly after the tasting on twitter so the remaining stock is selling fast. A bottle costing around £140 for 32 years of ageing is still good value and the popularity reflects that.
Colour – light light yellow
Nose – surgery and grassy initially with more sweet elements from fruity boiled sweets. There is a prickly nature of heat but more interestingly is some pencil shavings and charred casks around more usual flavours of caramel and toffee
Palate – The texture is lovely and thick again with a bias towards sweet notes again. Canned peaches in syrup before an american feel of corn and the oak which it has sat in for over three decades releases some spicy warmth rather than heat.
Finish – Melons give fruit notes against a general drying finish which is again a long one. Quite a few notes have been quite unusual for a grain whisky but in the finish we are back on more well known ground with chilli’s and butter toast.
Quite a few people really feel in love with this whisky. To them it represented something wonderful but not me while I can see it is far superior to a lot of the older grains I have tried I just don’t seem to get as much enjoyment out of grain as others do. Perhaps I need to slow things down some more and appreciate the subtle complexities that lie within.