Convalmore is a fascinating distillery, albeit one you don’t hear much about. The distillery never had its own bottlings, although Gordon and MacPhail regularly bottled whisky from the distillery in the Connoisseur’s Choice series.
There’s a saying that “Rome was built on seven hills, and Dufftown built on seven stills”. Two of the seven are no longer in production, Parkmore has been silent since 1931, and Convalmore closed in 1985, while Balvenie, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glenfiddich and Mortlach are all enjoying official world-wide distribution of their official bottlings (with both Dufftown and Glendullan bottled under Diageo’s Singleton label, and both are about to break out of their geographic distribution zones, which kept Glendullan in the US market and Dufftown in the European market). Two other distilleries were opened in Dufftown, Pittyvaich and Kininvie, but Pittyvaich didn’t survive, so today Dufftown has six active distilleries.
Founded in 1893, Convalmore had a column still in operations for almost two and a half decades alongside the pot stills, and it was used to make ‘silent malt’ under then owners James Buchanan, and became part of DCL in 1925, and remained under their continuous operations until 1985, when it became yet another victim drowned in the whisky loch, despite some significant investment in the 1970s. It was sold to Wm. Grant & Sons, and is used for warehousing. It will probably not revert to to being an active distillery as the distilling equipment was wholly dismantled.
Convalmore was always a blending whisky, and only three official bottlings of it have been released, a 1978 24 year old released in the 2003 Rare Malts Selection and two 1977 vintages released as part of the Diageo Special Releases as a 28 year old released in 2005, and as a 36 year old released in 2013, the expression reviewed here.
I had never tasted a Convalmore until the ‘Gone But Never Forgotten’ tasting, and didn’t really know what to expect. I was surprised and blown away, actually finding this expression to be fighting hard for my top spot nomination in this most illustrious tasting.
Convalmore 36, Vintage 1977, Special Releases 2013, 2680 Bottles (58% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber, thick and quick legs with a necklace and residue.
Nose: Earthy tobacco, wood, dryness on the nose, some dried fruit, baked goods and some butter candy.
Palate: Old leather, dried fruit, heavy tobacco, smoky notes, very dry leather, sweet spices, fizzy in the mouth with pepper and cloves.
Linger: Dry on the tongue, a slightly sour sherry note, star anise. Dryness high in the throat. Later there are notes of cocoa and spice in the back of the throat.
WOW! This dram blew me away!
This whisky has a beautiful depth, with a real richness and fascinating development. This is definitely a bottle I’d love to own!!
Colin Dunn of Diageo led this masterclass at The Whisky Show and provided me with the pictures accompanying this series from the Diageo archives. If you have a chance to hear Colin, run and do it…He’s a rockstar!