It’s been a while since we last updated our news page. Given the madness of the last year, including the production of hand sanitiser, releasing our first single malt, and bottling many delicious single casks, we’ve found ourselves very busy. However, the aim is to make these updates more frequent and structured, keeping you informed of all the goings-on here in Dornoch.
After a slow start due to lockdown, we are back to production here in Dornoch. Our style will of course remain the same; using floor malted, heritage varieties of malting barley, long fermentation time using spent brewers yeast in open-top wooden washbacks, and a slow distillation with cut points made by sense. This inevitably means sacrificing yield in the pursuit of quality. Our inspiration remains the “old style” of whisky production that has produced the whiskies we love, and we are very pleased with the results. A recent cask sampling session (hard work, I know) showed great variety amongst casks, but an unmistakable Dornoch character of white, tropical fruit notes and a waxy, well-rounded mouthfeel. I write this whilst sampling a 1969 Laphroaig 19 years old G&M Sestante Import (even more hard work), and the similarities are unmistakable. Fruit forward, estery distillate driven whisky not seen in modern styles of production. The tasting notes for this fantastic 60s Laphroaig are below, and we’ve done a comparison to our own recent bottling of a 27 year old 1993 vintage Islay single malt. Whilst we have no concrete information regarding what distillery the fantastic malt comes from, all here at base camp feel it may come from a certain southside facing distillery beginning with ‘L’.
The slow start to 2021 doesn’t mean we have been idle, however. The down period of production has been well spent casking new make spirit, bottling single casks and creating new variations of gin. Particular highlights include the filling of two incredible smelling ex-ale casks from Cromarty Brewery with Maris Otter Barley spirit and an ex-Invergordon cask, as well as the bottling of three delicious rums (including a 1997 Caroni) and a mystery Islay Single Malt.
Whilst the team have been working hard in the distillery and warehouse, head distiller Jacob has been undertaking an exciting project away from the distillery. Jacob has been floor malting locally purchased Laureute barley, sourced from Cyderhall farm near Dornoch, and malted at Golspie Mill. Floor Malting results in lower homogeny, lower friability and less modification, leading to reduced extract and thus, lower yield. However, it promotes microbial growth, more proteolysis and has been argued to give a more flavour than modern malting techniques. As with everything here at Dornoch Distillery, the focus is on flavour rather than yield. We hope to be distilling this malt within the month, so keep an eye on social media for updates.
Lastly, a new addition to our blog will be semi-regular tasting notes of new products and cask samples. This week we have been tasting a sample from cask 26(A) one of four re-racks from a PX Butt into octave casks. This octave in particular was an Oloroso seasoned cask that previously held Glenglassaugh Distillery.
Dornoch Distillery Cask 26(A) 6/11/2017
Nose: Slightly Oxidised sherry character, sweet px raisins, and chocolate orange
Palate: Deep citrus character, orange zest, waxy mouthfeel, brass, cacao, leathery finish
Finish: Brass and copper, Cacao nibs, polish
Laphraoig 1969 19yo G&M Sestante Import 51.9% – Sample courtesy of Olivier Humbrecht
Nose: Stewed apples, vibrant fruit notes, ester driven, very gentle and subdued peat
Palate: Lots of tropical notes, peat is stronger but very well integrated, good mouthfeel
Finish: Brass, lingering ashy peat but delicate, residual fruit notes. Very long
Thompson Brothers Islay Single Malt 1993 27yo 49.9%ABV 2 x Refill Hogsheads
Nose: Brine, wet peat, coal dust, brass, hessian, rosemary, driftwood, gueze-esque white fruits with time
Palate: Ashy remnants, heavier on the palate, sea spray and olive oil, rosemary and herbs slight hint of fruits but not comparable to the 1969 Laphroaig – phenols over esters in this dram.
Finish: Lingering maritime smoke, brine and oil, costal.
Tasting notes by Euan Christie.