E-pistle 2007/068 – A Dozen Dewar Rattray Drams

By Lawrence Graham, Canada

A Dozen Drams from A. Dewar Rattray; the Cask Collection and Stronachie 12 Year Old Single Malt.

Dewar Rattray is an independent bottler that has released some very good single cask offerings which are all non chill filtered and are caramel free. The range of whiskies reminded me some what of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.  The company can trace its roots to 1868 when it was founded by Andrew Dewar and William Rattray as an importer of French wines, Italian spirits and olive oil. Additionally the company also established itself as a specialist in the field of blending and storage of malt and grain whiskies. The company also represented well known Highland distilleries selling to West of Scotland wine and spirit merchants, publicans and the main Scotch whisky blending houses in and around Glasgow.

Today, Dewar Rattray is owned by Tim Morrison – previously of Morrison Bowmore Distillers and fourth generation descendent of Andrew Dewar. The company bottles many single casks of Scotch Whisky, with each one chosen to reflect the different regions of Scotland.

Stronachie 12yo (43%, Dewar Rattray, )
Color: Mid Gold
Nose: Quite sweet, honey and malt.
Taste: Grass, leather, tobacco and malt.
Finish: Further sweet malt notes. Smokey malt at the end.
Comments: Very drinkable and well balanced. A solid Highland whisky (it would seem).
Score: 84 Points

Royal Lochnagar 10yo 1996/2006 (59.6%, Dewar Rattray,  Cask 515 (Refill Butt), 710 Bottles)
Color: Pale, very light.
Nose: New make and dry dusty notes, cut grass and lemon.
Taste: Huge green cut grass notes and green malt. Sweet.
Finish: Medium long, further lemon grassy development.
Comments: Very unusual and youngish for a 10yo.
Score: 80 Points

Ben Nevis 14yo 1992/2006 (57.2%, Dewar Rattray Bourbon Cask #694, 273 Bottles)
Color: Golden
Nose: Chocolate covered coffee beans. Malt. Oak.
Taste: Wood notes, slightly floral with some hints of smoke, peppered.
Finish: Medium long with sweetness like watered honey.
Comments: Quite different from the OB 10yo but very drinkable.
Score: 87 Points

BenRiach 15yo 1990 (57.3%, Dewar Rattray Bourbon Cask #10697, 301 Bottles)
Color: Very pale, light gold.
Nose: Very sweet, bourbon and delicate smoke. Lots going on. Very nice!
Taste: Salty fruit and malt.
Finish: Clean malt and other cereal notes.
Comments: Nice smoke, improves with water.
Score: 85 Points

Auchentoshan 15yo 1991/2006 (59%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon Cask #478, 390 Bottles)
Color: Gold with slightly dark hues.
Nose: Light, buttery, malt & cereal, opens up with the addition of water, sweet.
Taste: Light mouth feel with floral & grassy notes, white wine, syrupy. Hints of malt.
Finish: Lots of flavour, no malt but grassy notes, heather.
Comments: Like a white wine, very different to the OB. Typical of the Lowland style.
Score: 80 Points

Balblair 15yo 1990/2005 (62.9%, Dewar Rattray, Sherry Cask #1146, 585 Bottles)
Color: Pale yellow.
Nose: Wood notes right off, very reminiscent of Glenmorangie 10. Copra (dried coconut for soap etc), ply wood shavings, honey.
Taste: Spicy, lots of wood influence with grassy notes. Coconut. Candle wax, citrus.
Finish: Very spicy again from an active cask.
Comments: A very strong whisky that benefits from the addition of water.
Score: 89 Points

Inchgower 25yo 1980/2006 (53.2%, Dewar Rattray, Sherry Cask#14161, 486 Bottles)
Color: Medium dark mahogany.
Nose: Sour cherries, water improves it a lot and reveals woody notes. Ginger
Taste: Very dry, more sour cherries, some slight funky off notes (sulpher?).
Finish: Very dry and sour.
Comments: Takes a lot of water & changes dramatically, under current of brown sugar on the nose that is not present w/o water.
A slightly odd whisky.
Score: 79 Points

Glenglassaugh 29yo 1976/2006 (53%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon Cask #2368, 290 Bottles)
Color: Light Golden
Nose: Clean, slight honeyed sweetness; bourbon background notes.
Taste: Spicy cedar wood notes, slight development of soapiness & sweet peas after a while.
Finish: Warming with tobacco notes.
Comments: A very, very good dram.
Score: 90 Points

Teaninich 30yo 1975/2006 (60.8%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon Cask 9419, 486 Bottles)
Color: Deeper darker gold
Nose: Very light, warm brown Demerara sugar. Soft Fruits.
Taste: Oddly Gruyere cheese. Sweet wet straw. Vegetative.
Finish: Medium long with development of smoke.
Comments: An interesting whisky with many dimensions, new developments at every turn.
Score: 87 Points

Tomintoul 30yo 1975/2006 (48.5%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon Cask # 30, 313 Bottles)
Color: Dark gold.
Nose: Very fruity and stunning. Smoke and bourbon.
Taste: Old bourbon, tobacco, fruit, glace cherries and smoke.
Finish: Long and sweet with later delivery of smoke.
Comments: Simply brilliant. This is my favorite of the entire dozen.
Score: 90 Points

Bowmore 14yo 1991/2006 (57.8% Sherry Cask #2056, 573 Bottles)
Color: Dark, like old polished furniture, some reddish highlights.
Nose: Smoke, peat fires, hints of shoreline, rich macerated fruit, and some furniture polish.
Taste: Peat smoke, some briny maritime hints, slight orange & lemon.
Finish: Medium long with waves of smoke and redolent sherry. Very good
Comments: Brilliant! Finally a Bowmore I can cherish.
Score: 90 Points

Caol Ila 15yo 1991/2006 (56.7%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon Cask# 743, 315 Bottles)
Color: Golden
Nose: Signature Caol Ila, heavy peat smoke, Islay kilns.
Taste: Smoke; burning peat fires
Finish: Long, warming peat fires, clean. Wave upon wave of peat smoke.
Comments: Every thing you would expect from this distillery.
Score: 89 Points

It’s a pleasant change to see a line of single malts unadulterated by the finishing craze.