Friday, May 9, 2014

Whisky Review: The Singleton of Glen Ord 12 Year

Diageo has released a number of different single malts under the Singleton moniker. Originally it was Auchroisk, as the people at the top didn't believe the average buyer could pronounce the name of the distillery and would thus pass it by.

More recently, they have released the outputs of three different distilleries in three different markets under the Singleton name. North America gets Glendullan, Europe gets Dufftown, and Asia/Pacific gets Glen Ord. Of these three, only Glen Ord used to have a fairly standard release as a single malt, though Glendullan was available as a Flora & Fauna bottling.

There was actually something of a hew and cry when Glen Ord was reconfigured as a Singleton brand as the old 12 Year bottling had a number of fans. Lets see how the new version holds up.

Thanks to Michael Kravitz for a sample of this whisky.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12 Year

Nose: apples and pears, peaches, orange creamsicle, raisins, light citrus and caramel, solid malt core, a restrained undercurrent of oak. After adding a few drops of water, the malt becomes more prominent and grainy - almost like breakfast cereal, some graham cracker notes pop up, while the fruit almost disappears - there is a little bit of apple left.

Taste: lightly sweet caramel throughout, citrus, green fruit (apples and pears), and berries starting in the middle and continuing through, oak begins as an undercurrent near the front then gains ground near the back. After dilution, the flavors become very flat, with vague oak and malt sweetness throughout, graham crackers appear, the fruit all disappears, and it has an overall bittersweet profile

Finish: slightly grassy, sweet malt and caramel, very light oak, overtones of berries

While a very respectable whisky on the lighter end of the spectrum, it's also clearly been tampered with. The relatively flat flavors are a combination of the low bottling proof of 40% and what is almost surely chill filtration. The lack of sherry or oak suggests relatively inactive casks, which makes me pretty sure that it's been darkened with caramel color. The low bottling proof almost means that it can't really stand up to even a little bit of dilution. With that said, Michael likes it quite a bit more than I did, so your mileage may vary.

All of these things are a shame as the underlying spirit seems to have a lot going for it. I'd love to try some independent bottlings of Glen Ord.


  1. I'm closer to your take than Michael's on this, Jordan. I also found this whisky to be manufactured. It's Diageo's version of a blend-like single malt - a best-seller in Asia, probably made and sold in huge quantities, a designed whisky, starting with what the customer expects rather than with what the whisky has to offer.

    In a way it's a shame, because I found Glen Ord to be a very special whisky. I really enjoyed this AD Rattray ex-bourbon bottle, there is a softness and purity to it that makes it stand out among peers. I'm keeping my eyes open for other indies.

    1. Looks like Hi-Time has a couple of options in addition to the ADR. The Signatory bottle is way too expensive, but the James McArthur might be worth a try.

    2. I knew the ADR on Hi-Time list is too good to be true... No such luck, probably sold out in 2012.

  2. Was happy to share! Like most of Diageo's stuff, this one kept me wondering what it would have been like minus the colorant, minus the filtration, and with 3-6 additional ABV points. As it is, it's an easy summer malt, a tiny step of from blends -- which I think is what the Singletons are supposed to be. To me, the nose is a significant step up from Glendullan's. But the indies are definitely the way to go.