Review: Orphan Barrel Muckety Muck

Photo courtesy of Orphan Barrel

Orphan Barrel’s 2020 release is Muckety-Muck, a 24-year-old single grain Scotch whisky from the shuttered Port Dundas distillery. It’s the second release whose origins come a closed Scottish distillery. Last year saw Forager’s Keep, a 26-year-old single malt from Pittyvaich. For years, the series almost exclusively featured old Kentucky bourbon. I’m glad to see the brand, owned by Diageo, explore its expansive library of aging whiskies in Scotland.

Single grain means the whisky comes from one distillery and was distilled from a cereal grain. Whereas malt whiskies are distilled using pot stills, grain whiskies are typically distilled using column stills. Established in 1810, Port Dundas was at one time the largest distillery in Scotland. Production stopped and the distillery was demolished in 2011.

Older single grain whiskies can be dreamy, and this bottling is no exception. Soft top notes of vanilla and butterscotch mingle with ripe orchard fruits on the nose. The palate mostly follows suit, sprinkling in some baking spices and lemon rind. The whisky reveals a touch of rancio on the back palate, a sign of its age. The medium length finish is warming with lingering semi-sweet notes.

For a reasonable asking price of $225, Muckety-Muck shows what a nicely aged single grain can offer, especially at its 90 proof bottling strength. Sometimes, people tend to dismiss single grain whiskies. My hope is people try it and it changes their opinion. This one is eye opening. Though it doesn’t bring me into the stratosphere like the 40-year-old Cally, Muckety-Muck certainly brings a smile to my face.

Thanks to Orphan Barrel for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Maker’s Mark 2020 Limited Edition

Photo courtesy of Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark’s is following up their WONDERFUL 2019 RC6 Limited Edition release with another entry in their Wood Finishing Series. This time Maker’s is finishing their whisky with two stave types: first is made from virgin French oak which is convection cooked at medium heat and a short toast period; the other is virgin American oak, cooked slowly at low heat. The resulting whisky is bottled at a cask strength of 110.8 proof.

These two stave types give this Maker’s a vanilla and caramel-centric whisky. On the nose, vanilla bean, toffee, and medium-roast coffee sit up front. The palate sees a creaminess not typically found in the standard Maker’s Mark. Dulce de leche, marzipan, and dark chocolate are peppered with hints of cinnamon and toasted oak. The long, warming finish maintains the rich flavors developed on the palate.

If you happen to not like Maker’s 46, which uses French Oak staves, give this limited edition release a try. Where MM 46 can be a little dry and spicy in places, the MM 2020 Limited Edition whisky creates a rich, luscious experience without an overly saccharine taste. I like all of Maker’s whiskies, but this one is on another level. For the near $60 price tag, I can’t recommend this one enough.

Review: The Glendronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage

Photo courtesy of The Glendronach

I was exposed to The Glendronach rather recently. Before that wonderful introduction, the big sherry bombs I was familiar with were The Macallan and Aberlour. What struck me about The Glendronach was the richness I didn’t quite find in the aforementioned brands. Not to take anything away from them, but Glendronach fit my taste like a glove.

The distillery’s latest is a very limited edition tied to release of the upcoming film in the The Kingsman series. Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie, in collaboration with film Director Matthew Vaughn, created this LOVELY malt. It’s a 29-year-old single malt, vintage 1989, matured in Oloroso sherry casks. Compromised of only six casks, the whiskey then saw a short maturation in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. It’s bottled at 50.1% abv and available for at a suggested price of $1,299.

I don’t generally cover color on this blog, especially since so many producers add caramel coloring. The Glendronach doesn’t add any color to their whisky. Compared to The Glendronach 12, this Kingsman Edition is several shades deeper and darker.

The Glendronach 12 (right) and The Glendronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage (left)

The nose is chockfull of raisin, dried fruit, dark toffee, and tobacco. Aromatic wood spice develops after a few minutes in the glass. It’s quite lovely. On the palate, candied ginger and toffee provide a bold but controlled entry. Plum, dried fruits, and raisin-y notes build more layers on this complex whisky. The back palate sees hints of baking spice, cigar box, and slightly astringent old oak. The finish is long with lingering notes of burnt orange peel, spice, and dark fruits.

Autumn literally just began as this post goes live, and this release couldn’t come at a more perfect time. Given it’s complexity, The Glendronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage is a whisky you’ll want to block off an hour to savor. This has landed a spot as my favorite whiskies of 2020. It’s just that damn good.

Thanks to The Glendronach for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.