Port Dundas 20 Year

Port Dundas: Special Release: 20 Year (Scotland Single Grain Whisky: 20 Years: 57.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark mahogany red.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Tarry. Sweet. Caramelised sugar. Butterscotch. Crushed pine cones. Pou porri and perfume. Light smoke. Water adds almonds and chives.

Body: Treacle. Pepper. Tarry feel. Raspberry pavlova. Touch of salted bagels. Water makes syrup texture- golden syrup. Spice rack. Fruitcake. Rye crackers.

Finish: Vanilla and coconut. Raspberry pavolova. Oak. Creamy. Coconut macaroons. Water makes very peppery, paprika and cardamom. Milk chocolate. Caramel.

Conclusion: Such a mix here, the whisky is intense, and tarry, probably the abv showing itself with the aroma thick on the nostrils and the whisky clinging. Despite that there is a sweetness that has distinct subtlety, with coconut macaroons and sweet caramel against the thick tarry treacle character. There is an intensity to its nature, everything is big here, yet somehow managing to not overpower the more delicate notes.

Mixed in with that is a third arrow to the quiver, with rye crackers like touches that brings in a lot of spicy touches. This side reminds me a bit of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, they have a similar quality and those spice notes layered over softer vanilla character. This is especially noticeable with water where the texture becomes more syrup than tar. Here the spice and very peppery finish really starts pushing forwards and giving those rye notes.

For me I would say it is a bit too Bourbon like for my tastes. I like bourbon but the mix of the two characters isn’t quite to my taste here. It seems to become too present as you sip more of the whisky. Still, despite that comment I still enjoyed and was impressed by the whisky. Where else would I find salted bagel touches or subtle raspberry pavlova amongst such a big whisky? There are so many elements hinted at behind the forefront character. It has a very distinct character that I admire even if it is not one of my favourites.

Not a bad whisky at all, very big, a rye bourbon like whisky with lots behind. Lots of character, just not quite to my tastes.

Background: This was drunk at the amazing Independent Spirit Rare Whisky event at Circo. When they say rare they mean rare. This is one of less than two thousand bottles that exist. This was the first ever Single grain whisky to get a Diageo special release. It was first aged in refill casks for three years then split up and aged in either American Oak Bodega, new charred European, or first fill American Oak bourbon casks. We had five whiskys that night, with other guests, my friend Matt, and Chris from Independent spirits all giving their thoughts. Since I know how easy it is to get psychosomatic flavours after someone else mentions them consider the above a view of the general opinion on the whisky so I can call it a feature rather than a bug. Due to the nature of the event my notes were somewhat haphazard, but hopefully I’ve managed to put them together into something readable.