Single Malts have always been dwarfed by their Blended brethren, laying in the shadows cast by the latter’s massive sales figures. Diageo might have this all figured out with their illustrious blended kingpin – Johnnie Walker, but replicating this success story in the Malt realm hasn’t been that easy. This playing field has been long dominated by the greats, Glenfiddich (William Grant), Glenlivet (Chivas), Macallan (Edrington) and Glenmorangie (Moet Hennessey).
Singleton, introduced in 2006 was Diageo’s answer to breaking into the charts, and how better to do it – in threes! The distilleries of Glen Ord, Dufftown and Glendullan formed the magic trio, each of which tailored for a different market – Asia, Europe and Americas. However, acknowledging the need for greater outreach, Diageo had them available globally and the result- Singleton had steadily crawled up taking the fourth slot in 2017 trading places with Glenmorangie now down to 5th. Diageo still might have a long way to go; selling 518k cases, half compared to the 1+ mn cases sold by Glenlivet and Glenfiddich each, but progress surely seems steady!!
The Spey Cascade is the third NAS expression from the Dufftown distillery under the Singleton branding – Tailfire and Sunray being earlier releases. Matured and blended from a combination of Sherry and Bourbon casks, the Spey Cascade is known to exhibit spicy, nutty flavours with some of that sherry percolating through.
Also what is unique is the ‘bootlegger’ hip flask shaped bottle with the semi tinted shade. The aesthetics provide for a solid, premium feel. However, a downside is the artificially colouring and chill filteration. Considering a large proportion of the malts would tend towards the younger side of the spectrum, I am almost certain that golden hue is not all natural.
Eye: Old Gold
Nose: Creamy and malty with the richness of raisins and grape drizzled with caramel. A subtle sweetness is evident from red apples and cantaloupe accompanied by a mild citrus zest; savory sun-dried tomatoes and olives, are trailed by a pinch of black pepper and crushed cardamon.
Taste: Sweet cantaloupes dipped in honey and caramel interrupted by moist wood and a hint of earthiness. Stewed apples, grapes and almonds, green pepper, menthol and spice.
Finish: Medium ; Sweet influences from the sherry cask maturation, a mild warmth with hints of spice.
The Singleton is a fair representation of the Speysides, sweet, light and welcoming on the palate. The nose is certainly the hero here, exhibiting breadth; but the palate isn’t quite able to keep up. It isn’t complicated but did manage to sneak in an earthiness that I hadn’t expected. To be honest, the 12 YO Singleton wasn’t really an eye opener and I assumed that this expression too would follow suite. But considering it is a fairly young whisky that slots in the AUD $55 range, it manages to give you most bang for your buck. This is a whisky that might not necessarily disappoint, but won’t catch your eye all the time.
Preference: It did initially feel watered down, but over time it seemed alright – surely no dilution required.