Daftmill Tasting

An article titled “The Best Whisky Investments in 2019” lists Daftmill next to Diageo’s shelf-clogging “Game of Thrones” collection and Macallan’s marketing-lead Concept series. One of these is not like the other, but for the “investor” they are all likely to share the same fate.

At LWC, we know that true value of these bottles is only realised through opening and sharing them. And having now sampled Daftmill extensively, it’s clear that while it is an excellent quality malt with a unique profile in the contemporary landscape, the absurd secondary market prices are unlikely to hold up in the long term.

Daftmill is Scotland’s only single farm estate, with farmer and distillery manager Francis Cuthbert performing seasonal distillation with the farm’s harvest in a practice that harkens back to the 19th century. If anything deserves to be called craft, this is it. With only around 100 casks filled per year (mostly ex-bourbon) demand well outstrips supply, even without pestilent flippers.

Putting together a tasting of eight Daftmill expressions could hardly fail to generate some fanfare, but for LWC it is just whisky. Not whisky opened “despite its auction value”, but whisky shared in the spirit of enjoyment and discovery.

The main line-up included eight different Daftmill bottlings (though as usual a great number of bonus drams from other distilleries sprung out of bags after a certain critical point). At time of writing Whiskybase lists fourteen releases, several of these being practically unavailable for being released in international markets or, like cask #68, available only at the Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland. As far as we know then, this night was the most extensive independently organized Daftmill tasting to-date. Indeed, as usual, all bottles were shared from club members’ personal stashes – including an overseas exclusive lugged back from Japan by James B.

The official line up was:

  • Daftmill 2005 Inaugural Release
  • Daftmill 2006 Summer Edition
  • Daftmill 2006 Winter Edition UK Release
  • Daftmill 2006 Winter Edition Overseas Release
  • Daftmill 2006 Single Sherry Cask for Berry Bros. & Rudd
  • Daftmill 2006 Single Cask for Royal Mile Whiskies
  • Daftmill 2006 Single Cask for Luvians
  • Daftmill 2008 Summer Edition

Daftmill has chosen to produce a typical Lowland style, light and fruity, achieved via long fermentations and a narrow cut. The result is bursting with barley character, floralness, and bright fresh fruitiness. The group’s general preference was for the ex-bourbon single casks at cask strength, with agreement that while the sherry cask had some merits, the spirit is much better suited to bourbon casks.

Thanks to all who attended, and to those who shared bottles, both on and off the record. It was my tenth club event and quite a highlight.  It’s hard to imagine a better way to have wrapped up the club’s events in 2019 but 2020 already has quite some things to look forward to – let’s see what we can do.

by Matthew Earnshaw.

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