Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Diageo. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Normally, when you hear the name of a single malt, you know the distillery right away. But there are a few exceptions to this. Most are independent bottlers, but a few are distillery releases that, for one reason or another, have a different name than the distillery that produces it. The Singleton, a label released by Diageo, falls closer to the latter. It is a single malt from one of several Diageo-owned distilleries. These include Glen Ord, Glendullan, and Dufftown distilleries.
The Singleton started production in 2006 with a single malt from Glen Ord. This was followed by releases from Glendullan and Dufftown a year later. While the label is relatively new, the distilleries are not. Glen Ord opened in 1838, Dufftown in 1896, and Glendullan in 1897. At the start of the Singleton label, each of the three distilleries were used for releases in different regions around the world. This remains mostly true except for the occasional special release. By 2015, Diageo had revealed plans to grow the brand to compete with Glenfiddich and Glenlivvet.
For this review, I’m looking specifically at The Singleton of Glendullan 18 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. The Glendullan Distillery’s product is used for releases primarily in North America. Glendullan produces 3.7 million liters a year, making it Diageo’s second largest distillery by production. They use three wash stills and three spirit stills that are all pear shaped. The spirit used for single malt is aged on site in a combination of American and European oak.
One of the things I found interesting with the Glendullan distillery is their spirit stills are larger than their wash stills. Each step in the production process sees a lower quantity output as the goal is to extract the alcohol and eliminate unwanted elements. A run of a wash still normally produces a low wine below the 40% ABV you see in the bottle, so it is distilled again in the spirit still to get a higher ABV.
For the purposes of Scotch this second run normally sees the distillate get to about 70% ABV. The higher ABV allows the producer to age the whisky without it dropping below the ABV needed to bottle it (in milder climates like Scotland whisky will drop in ABV as it ages). All of this is to say, judging by the capacity of the stills, that it seems like they might be putting the low wine from two different wash stills into each spirit still. This shouldn’t matter in terms of the final product, but is an interesting difference in production from most distillery operations.
Before now, I had only tasted the lower age statements of The Singleton of Glendullan. “Sublimely Smooth,” as it says on the bottle, isn’t just a motto. For me, the lower age statements felt like I may as well be drinking water because of how light they were. But I was pleasantly surprised by the 18-year-old release.
Vital Stats: Distilled from 100% malted barley. Bottled at 40% ABV. Aged a minimum of 18 years in a combination of American and French oak.
Appearance: This is a slightly yellow amber in color. It has big tears that are very slow to form.
Nose: This smells of cinnamon, brown sugar, and oak with a little bit of apple and vanilla. It’s like if a dutch apple pie had been barrel aged.
Palate: This is a very light flavor profile. I get some caramel sweetness up front with cinnamon spice and brown sugar on the mid palate. There is a little vanilla before the finish, which has a surprisingly funky sulfur note that I quite enjoy.