Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review: Singleton 12

Singelton 12
Strength:  40%
Price:  $25 - 30

I very rarely (never) order Scotch out in restaurants or bars.  The selection in almost every bar invariably consists of Glenlivet 12 and a couple of blends, the price is shockingly prohibitive, and the whisky always comes in the absolute wrong glass.  That being said, at last year's Scotch and Chocolate ALS Benefit, all around master of awesome Sir Jeremy Bell pointed out that you can always ask servers to pour your Scotch into a brandy snifter or wine glass.  While it's not exactly the perfect shape for whisky, servers are well trained to pour based mostly by the shape of the glass, and the result is two, three, or even four drams for the (inflated) price of one.  An evening a few months ago found me in a bar with a "huge" selection of single malts (three...) and I decided to give it a try.  To my surprise and amusement, it worked exactly like Sir Jeremy described, a brandy glass with about four or five ounces of Singleton 12.  I'm not sure this would work everywhere, but I think it's worth the attempt once in a while, even if just to see if it works.

So then, on to the Singleton 12.  It's born at the Auchroisk (AW-KREESK? AW-KROYSK?) distillery in Dufftown, which primarily makes malt for the ubiquitous J&B blend.  It's a Speyside, and not a bad one, but seems to get no marketing or fanfare.  The bottle doesn't even identify Singleton as a Speyside, which is unusual, Scotch region being an almost obligatory label characteristic. The upshot to the lack of recognition or marketing is you can often find Singleton fairly cheap, usually about $25.  Yep, we're back in bargain single malt country, though truthfully, the Singleton isn't half bad.  I'd say it's comparable in price and quality to Tomatin, another "bargain single malt."  The nose is typical Speyside, sweet toffee and mild fruit, and a sip confirms these flavors.  The toffee and fruit segue into a grassy or haylike note, unusual for a Speyside.  I don't notice any particularly big wood notes, some mild oak, but nothing extreme, and the finish is mediocre, grass and pleasant sweetness.  In short, a serviceable malt, but despite the unusual grassy notes, really nothing remarkable.

I purchased a bottle of Singleton 12 a few years ago, and it was the subject of one of my first attempts to write about whisky.  Even with an undeveloped palate, I had similar impressions, grassy, nothing remarkable, but then the review took an embarrassing turn into jokes about Scotsman and sheep, and is best left in the internet dustbin.  Score:  70 (C-)

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  1. Nice tip about ordering Scotch in a wine glass.

    There should be a term for mediocre Speyside distilleries that turn out a bunch of liquid for crappy blends but put aside a little for generic single malt bottlings (chill filtered and 40 %): Scotch mills?

  2. Scotch mills, I like it. I imagine that all these places that make low grade malt for blends probably figure, why not stick a single malt on the market, we already have the stuff? The perplexing thing about Singleton is that they're so...half-assed about it, such a plain bottle, with a boring label. Tomatin at least made a nice label...tasted better too, come to think of it. I think Tomatin still wins the bargain malt battle for now.