Port Dundas 1990 (blind)

"Woody Woodpecker! What a whisky, completely wood-driven and one of my first grain whiskies, but interesting enough to not be the last one (in a while)"

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Port Dundas was located near Glasgow in the Lowlands and used to be one of the most important grain distilleries of Scotland, producing the backbone of blends like Johnny Walker, J&B, Bell’s, and White Horse. It was closed by Diageo in 2010 when their grain distilling moved to Cameron Bridge and North British. This release was part of the Special Releases from Diageo in 2011 and was matured in a combination of sherry, bourbon, and apparently also charred oak casks. I am not too familiar (yet) with grain whiskies, and do not really know what to expect. So shut up and taste, I guess.

Nose

A lot of glue, which I normally find typical of certain Armagnacs. Followed by molasses and something that I guess is bitter wood. Very peculiar and not a nose I normally would associated with Scotch whisky. But I am not that familiar, if at all, with single grain whisky. After some time, it shows orange skin, ginger, and a little bit of sherry in the background. It seems like a complete wood-driven nose. Water would be a good addition, I think. Water does tame it, and brings more complexity. Old wood, dusty books, leather, tiger balm, milk powder, and chocolate milk with a lot of milk. Some maraschino cherries, mascarpone, and ginger bread, but there are also these clear notes of rum again. The wood is still clearly present, but this is much better. 

Taste

Saw dust, fresh walnuts, dusty library books, and maybe some fruits. Difficult to distinguish other things. Water? Better, but still very dusty. Tastes like the glass has been on my desk for a long time (well, without the evaporation then). Different kind of woods (some toasted), leather, carton, and some kind of bitterness that I cannot link to something I know. Pine wood, maybe. There is also sugar cane, sour candied apples, pear juice, and grape skins. The finish is fairly long. I have to get use to the wood-ish taste, but then I begin to see the point.

Overall

When I tasted this blindly, I had great difficulty to pin down what it exactly was. Rum, armagnac? Grain whisky was not on the tip of my tongue, so to speak. Well it was of course (on the tip of my tongue). I finally guessed that it could be a molasses-based rum. What is clear is that this is completely wood-driven. Normally, not really my kind of whisky, although not the worst example. I guess, grain whisky is the best way to really see which scents and tastes come directly from the wood. Interestingly, but I doubt if I will find the best whisky amongst these grains. We’ll keep searching, of course.

What others thought

Competition day #9

Port Dundas 1990

Whiskybase: 87.26 (68 votes) Contestants: 7.6/10

This sample was part of the

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
95%
Peat/smoke
5%
Nose 82%
Taste 75%
Balance 78%
Depth 75%
Finish 77%
Score