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Cheers: New single malts arrive stateside

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Whether you like it smooth and smoky, or peaty and earthy, Scotch lovers can agree that new products are exciting.

A few years ago, as part of a trip to the United Kingdom, I was lucky enough to travel to the Aberdeen area of Scotland for a micro-visit with my husband’s aunt and uncle. While the trip was short (48 hours), I got a tour of the entire country via Uncle Owen’s Scotch collection.

Map in hand, Uncle Owen took us through the Islay, Highlands and Speyside Scotches, sampling bottles from the various distilleries he visited in his classic Morgan. He shared with us labels like Clynelish, Royal Lochnagar, and Loch Dhu — all whiskys that you don’t really see on this side of the pond.

While there’s tons of quality Scotch in the U.S., we still don’t have access to fruits of all the historic distilleries in the motherland. This past fall, however, John Dewar & Sons released a few single malts to the United States market. The most recent three — Aultmore, Deveron and Royal Brackla — just became available before the holiday.

Aultmore is a Speyside Scotch that has a mellow, smooth taste, but with a kick. It’s the strongest of these three new products, with 46 percent alcohol by volume. It’s distilled using water from an area called “Foggie Moss” (because it’s foggy and mossy there, of course) which gives it a unique taste. It’s sold as a 12-year-old Scotch, with limited quantities of 25 year.

Milder is the Deveron, a single malt from the MacDuff distillery in Aberdeenshire. There, the River Deveron meets the North Sea, and Dewars makes use of this fact by branding Deveron in a frosted blue-green bottle and calling it “calm from the storm.” It’s sold here in 12-, 18- and 25-year-old single malts.

Tasting as regal as the name implies, the Royal Brackla is from the northern Highlands, and has just a touch of peat and an enjoyable leathery finish. This is a nice choice for those who prefer an earthier Scotch, as I do.

The new-to-us single malts are fairly priced at $45-$65, and each are also offered in a collectible “Tome” that looks like a super large book. The gift sets come with specialized glassware, multimedia materials on the history of the product and themed extras (a watch, a cryptex, a wooden box).

Whiskey wonderland

Products from Dewars and other whiskey brands will be available for sniffing, swishing and sampling Saturday at the Whiskey Business event at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. (Sadly, the aforementioned single malts are not on the docket.)

From peaty imports like Laphroaig Select to the fun, sweetness of novelty brands like Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, this annual event is a good way to test out a bunch of products in one evening. The price of admission is about the same as a decent bottle of booze, so why not?

General admission is $50 and includes 10 tasting tabs. For $20 more, VIP ticket holders can arrive an hour early and receive 15 tasting tabs. A designated driver ticket, $15, is also available for those who like to accompany a full price ticket holder, but not imbibe.

Call (248) 723-4455 or visit

Be the bourbon judge

For a more exclusive tasting, head to Detroit City Distillery. This month the Eastern Market spirit makers are offering samples from its Butcher’s Cut Bourbon.

Four single barrel bourbons have all been aged differently and DGD is offering customers the chance to vote on which cut is the best and should be named the final Butcher’s Cut Bourbon. The next tastings are Feb. 26 and 27 at 6, 7:30 and 9 p.m. Tickets, $40, include a one-ounce sample of each and a tour of the distillery. Go to to grab your spot.