In Greek mythology, Cerberus was a three headed dog who was charged with guarding the entrance to the underworld so the living don’t come in and the dead don’t escape. In the world of whisky, it’s Diageo’s three headed Singleton brand, trying to be the ‘go-to’ entry level whisky (and beyond) without investing in distillery expansion.
Obviously, there is no distillery named Singleton, and the brand name has been previously used (in the latter half of the 1980s) for the Auchroisk single malts, and was then abandoned. It was revived after Diageo’s attempt at using the Cardhu brand as a catchall for whisky from distilleries too small to carry their own brand (or those who’s production is needed to feed the ever growing hunger of the Johnny Walker vats) and being made to back down from making Cardhu a vatted malt.
Faced again with rising demand for single malts, and having too many unknown distilleries with some extra capacity but not enough to really hold a global brand, the marketing genius power a corporation the size of Diageo came up with this plan: Revive the ‘Singleton’ brand but use those same three distilleries divided geographically into the different regions of the world. Thus, you’ll get “Singleton of Dufftown” in Europe, “Singleton of Glen Ord” in Asia and “Singleton of Glendullan” in the Americas. Two Speysiders and a Highlander make up a single brand.
Living in Israel and traveling mainly to Europe, I have only had the Dufftown version to review. It has some sherry matured whisky in it and is actually better, in my opinon, than the 15 year old Singleton of Dufftown.
I’d be interested in doing a “cross-vertical” tasting of all three Singletons (at least on the 12 year old label, as Glendullan only has a 12 year old, whereas Dufftown and Glen Ord have a 12-15-18 range). It’s also worth noting that a 28 year old Singleton of Dufftown was offered in the 2013 Special Releases (at £235) and a Singleton of Glendullan 38 year old was offered in the 2014 Special releases (for the meek price tag of £750!!!).
Anyway, back to the basic expressions reviews:
Singleton of Dufftown 12 (40% ABV)
Appearance: Bronze, thin and quick legs.
Nose: Sultana raisins, vanilla, sherry, demerara sugar and malt.
Palate: Sweetness right down the center of the tongue, light pepper and clove in a very smooth mouth feel.
Linger: Short with pepper down the gullet and some sweet and bitter notes in the mouth.
Basic single malt, drinkable but unremarkable in any way. It’s the type of whisky you’d bring a non drinker to introduce them to single malts, as it’s really easy going and not complex. This is intentional and by design, as the Singleton is aimed to serve as an introductory malt and is achieved through a long fermentation and a slow distillation of smaller batches in the stills to provide a lot of copper contact. Any attempt to evaluate this whisky as anything other than the easy drinking gateway malt it was designed to be, will result in disappointment.