Review: Single Cask Nation Craigellachie 10, Macduff 13, and Stones of Stenness 18
Single Cask Nation is a newish (est. 2011) line of independently-bottled single malt whiskies, and thanks to our friends at importers ImpEx, they’re now going to be more widely available in the U.S. Today we look at the trio of inaugural releases — all bottled at cask strength — that are just now hitting our shores, comprising some unusual offerings indeed.
Single Cask Nation Craigellachie 10 Years Old – Aged in a bourbon hogshead and heavily peated, a departure for this Speyside distillery. Sweaty, weedy, muddy, and downright dank, the nose on this monstrosity is instantly unappealing no matter how much you love “peat reek.” It smells more like old cold cuts than Islay funk. The palate is a much different experience, showing a somewhat less weedy greenery character but also a bright lemon note that lifts things up, at least for a moment. The finish is quite hot, falling back on its dank underpinnings, with notes of creosote, burnt toast, and coal ash. I catch a hint of candy on the very end of the finish, but that just adds to the baffling — and often unapproachable — character of the spirit. 124.6 proof. D- / $125
Single Cask Nation Macduff 13 Years Old – A sherry butt-aged 13 year old from this obscure Highland operation. Nutty, spicy, and studded with orange peel notes, it’s a classic sherry-barreled whisky, almost to a fault. Notes of light chocolate and coffee bean meld with some flavorful but expected burnt orange peel notes, leading to a finish that is surprisingly easygoing and a bit basic — malty, some citrus, and a touch of mint. 114.4 proof. B / $150
Single Cask Nation Stones of Stenness 18 Years Old – A bourbon barrel-aged whiskey from a mysterious Orkney distillery (which is a very small list), very lightly peated. Alluring on the nose, it’s got a lovely, gently-smoked nuttiness and a solid vanilla spice note — simple, but inviting and approachable. The palate is rounded and silky, offering notes of creamy caramel, chocolate, coconut, and more vanilla — all hallmarks of a lengthy bourbon barrel aging. The finish is crisp and on point, with notes of graham cracker, caramel, and a slightly grainy conclusion. If this isn’t Highland Park, I’ll refund your time for reading to this point. 109.6 proof. B+ / $190