Millburn is one of those distilleries that you don’t come across often. I think most bottlers have had a bottle or two in their day, but it’s never been a high roller. I only ever had one bottle of an awesome 33 year old by Blackadder, and tried some samples here and there.
Apart from that I’ve tried another Blackadder, and some Rare Malts editions. There might have been others but those were from before I started blogging. That means it’s more than five years ago, and not well documented (not at all, to be honest).
I drove past the distillery two years ago when holidaying near Inverness. The distillery is a restaurant now, called The Auld Distillery. Apart from the fact that the buildings are interesting to spot, I don’t care much about ‘walking the premises’ when there’s not much to see anymore. Brora, for example, is different since most things are still there and you actually walk the ruins.
Anyway, Millburn. A blender’s whisky, as were most when the closings of 1983-1985 happened. This one fell victim to the economic troubles of the early eighties which, in a way is surprising. They still needed blenders whiskies, and this distillery was fairly large and well located close to water and main roads.
A massive drop of fennel at first. Surprising, since I generally don’t find it in whisky, especially not in whiskies which have some reputation. In this case it’s not a bad find though. It’s a bit like a few of the Boutique-y whiskies, but not as first and all-encompassing. Alcohol, mint and oak. After a couple of minutes it gets a lot better and the fennel wears off. Freshly herbal with mint, peppermint oak and fresh barley.
The palate is dry and sharp (as most of the Rare Malts are). There’s crusty bread, barley, oak and no fennel. Some vanilla, some black pepper, alcohol, pear peels, but mostly spicy.
The finish is very classic and old fashioned. Barley, oak, alcohol, bread and dried mint leaves. Tea, some vanilla. It mellows rather quickly.
It’s a bit of a weird whisky, this one. The fennel at the start takes some getting used to, but it’s not too bad. After that it becomes a very classic style whisky with lots of barley and oak. The kind you find more in the Rare Malts series (Hillside and Glen Mhor come to mind).
As with many of the Rare Malts, the ABV is high, and it’s a hot whisky. As in, there’s quite some impact from the alcohol. If you expect this it’s not too bad, but it is a bit much. It can do with some water, but I’m afraid it drowns quickly. The flavors aren’t very big and rich to begin with.
So, concluding, it’s a very nice whisky, but not one for daily drinking (especially not at current prices). It takes some time to properly appreciate this, but it can really shine if you know what to expect and are able to enjoy that.
Millburn 1975-2001, 25yo, 61.9%, Rare Malts. Available for € 650 at Best of Wines. (probably cheaper in auctions)