We are blessed with an explosion of independent bottlers recently, making it hard to know where to look. Standing out from the crowd is difficult, especially for the newer companies. But if there’s one thing that Dràm Mòr does it’s stand out in a crowd. They’re run by husband and wife team Kenny and Viktorija Macdonald, with Kenny being the “frontman” and Viktorija providing the brains. None of this would matter if they didn’t know their whiskies, but luckily they’ve got that covered...
In particular they’re very good at matching spirit to cask, with a lot of their bottlings being second maturations that work very well.
Dràm Mòr have done a few tastings with the SE23 Whisky Club, where I’ve gotten to know Kenny and understand how they approach whisky. So when out of the blue I was offered two samples, I decided to say yes.
Deanston 13yo, 52.5% abv, Cask #188, First Fill Bourbon/Refill Red Wine
If you don’t know Deanston, you’re missing out. A superb spirit, which really rewards a good cask.
The nose has fresh oak, soft toffee, red berries, damson and a hint of raspberry. The mouthfeel is decent, but no cling. The body has toffee, brioche, greengages, fruits of the forest and then cinnamon and hints of ginger. The finish has toffee, cinnamon and red berries with a touch of fresh oak.
Water brings out thin, compact whorling that barely mottles. The nose gains more toffee and some brioche, and a hint of lime. The body gains a sweet lemon note, and more of the toffee. There’s less cinnamon, but it’s still there in the finish alongside a touch of lemon.
The red wine cask has really done a great job, lifting the dram with fruit notes that are wonderfully integrated with the oak, toffee and bread from the bourbon cask.
Technical score: 4.5/5
Personal preference: I’d like a bottle.
Ben Nevis 8yo, 57.1%, Cask 9001092, Refill Madeira Blood Tub
Ben Nevis is going through a renaissance these days, becoming highly sought-after as people discover what it’s capable of.
The nose has fudge, cashew nuts and hints of brandy. The mouthfeel is thin with no cling. The body has polished old oak furniture, cinnamon, cashew nuts, walnuts, cinnamon, toffee, plums and a hint of liquorice. The finish has polished oak, cinnamon, brandy flavoured chocolates and walnuts.
Water brings out thin, compact whorling that dissipates quickly without mottling. The nose gains old oak furniture and walnuts. The body gains fruits - more plums, pears, apples, and hints of peach. The cinnamon is also somewhat diminished. The finish gains plums and hints of peach.
I much prefer this dram after water, when fruits come out and the cinnamon is a little more muted.
Technical score: 4.5/5
Personal preference: I’d have another dram.
Both these drams are rewarding, but the Ben Nevis passed me by a little - it’s not quite my style of dram. That Deanston, however, was very much my kind of thing.
I understand that when bottled these are destined for the European market, which is their gain and the UK’s loss. But they’ve reminded me of my enthusiasm for Dràm Mòr’s output, and hopefully these notes will help others see why this small indie bottler is gaining such popularity...