Duthies Independent Bottler Sunday – Scotch Whisky Tasting Note


Company History

Mr. Robert W. Duthie was the nephew of William Cadenhead, and ran William Cadenhead Ltd from 1904 until his untimely death in 1931. Mr. Duthie was also the person most responsible for building the reputation of William Cadenhead Ltd as a bottler of single malts and rum.

Duthies is a new range from Cadenhead’s that are all bottled at 46% and non chill filtered. They are all single malts but not necessarily single cask bottlings.

The old Classic regions (50% vol.) have been replaced by the Duthies Regions series that are bottled at 46% and are non chill filtered. The regions are all Vatted Malts, also known as Blended Malt whiskies.

The firm of William Cadenhead Ltd, Wine and Spirit Merchants, was founded in 1842 and is Scotland’s oldest independent bottler. The company was in the ownership of the same family until taken over by J & A Mitchell & Co.Ltd in 1972, the proprietors of Springbank distillery.
The early days

For 130 years prior to this, the firm of William Cadenhead Ltd traded from the same premises in the Netherkirkgate, Aberdeen. It was what subsequently became number 47 that Mr George Duncan established himself as a vintner and distillery agent. The business prospered and in little over 10 years he was joined by his brother-in-law Mr. William Cadenhead. In 1858 Mr. Duncan died following a short illness. William Cadenhead acquired the business and changed the trading name to that of his own. Whilst not much is known of George Duncan, a great deal is on record about his brother-in-law. It must be said that this is not because of his distinction as a vintner but because he was a local poet of renown throughout the Victorian era. Born in 1819, he began working at an early age in a small thread factory where he gained a great deal of respect from his employer. From there he became an overseer in the yarn sorting department of Maberly & Co at their Broadford works, now Richards PLC. About 1853 he left the company and joined his brother-in-law as traveller for Cadenhead’s until Duncan’s death in 1858 where he acquired the business. Apart from his enviable reputation as a poet, he became a prominent citizen taking part in all aspects of local affairs during his long life.

Acquiring a worldwide reputation..

Early on Sunday morning, 11 December 1904 William Cadenhead died. He was succeeded in the business of Wine and Spirit Merchants at 47 Netherkirkgate by his nephew Robert W. Duthie. He was a quiet unassuming man, unlike his uncle, but developed what the firm became most famous for, namely single malt Scotch whisky and Demerara Rum. He advertised extensively on the back of buses, theatre curtains, concert programmes and in much else under the slogan ‘By test the Best’. In addition Mr Duthie developed Cadenhead’s brand whiskies, the de-luxe blend Putachieside and the more plebeian name The Heilanman.

Difficult times

In 1931 in the depth of the depression, the business of William Cadenhead was not in good shape financially. Mr. Duthie was on his way to a meeting with his bank manager when he was unfortunately run over by a tram car whilst crossing the street. Duthie was a batchelor but left two sisters who knew nothing about the Wine and Spirit trade but were determined that the name of William Cadenhead should survive. Responsibility was handed over to a long term employee, Miss Ann Oliver, an eccentric lady who ran the business exactly as she wanted, refusing to move with the times. However, administration was lax and several bad decisions were made during this time forcing Ms Oliver to retire and sell the business.

The turning point

Both the bonded and duty paid warehouses were full from the roof to the cellars of stock, the value of which no-one knew nor for which there were any records. In the end Christie’s who had liquidated considerable stocks of rum were contacted. The result was a two-day sale of the entire stock and was at that date the largest sale of wines and spirits ever held in Great Britain. The sale took place in London on 3rd and 4th of October 1972 and although there were many bargains, on the whole it was most successful and contrary to expectations it resulted in a six figure surplus over liabilities for the firm.

The present day

Thereafter the goodwill, premises etc. of the firm William Cadenhead were sold to J & A Mitchell & Co Ltd., proprietors of Springbank Distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries still owned by descendants of its founder. The name of Cadenhead is now a household name in the whisky world, and the present owners have expanded the Cadenhead business whilst still keeping the goals and traditional methods the firm began with in 1842.

Whisky Intelligence Tasting Notes of Duthies Scotch Whiskies

Duthies 9yo Hazelburn

Duthies 9yo Hazelburn

Hazelburn 9yo (46%, Duthies, Sherry, 634 Bts., +/-2010)

Triple distilled and unpeated  from Springbank distillery. The nose is really very, very good. Crème brulèe, brown sugar, light oak spice, the characteristic Springbank notes and loads of dessert wine notes and first class malt. Honey, toffee and some slight fragrant notes in the form heather & a tinge of grape fruit. Also some Sumatran cinnamon, light cold unsweetened black tea and damp clean cotton. All very heady and work together like a dream. With time in the glass it simply improves. The taste is almost a mirror image of the aromas however the crème brulèe, toffee, cold unsweetened black tea, malt and clean damp cotton are more in evidence and take center stage. It’s really quite excellent whisky. Impressive.  The finish is malty and filled with oak spice and it’s all very active and once again very good. Still sensational with loads of flavour, the constituent parts hang together like they have been bonded by a super magnet. More of the malt and very long.

If it’s worth saying once it’s worth saying again; sensational. A delight and a lovely dram.


Score 90 points

Longrow 9yo (46%, Duthies, Sherry, 738 Bts., +/- 2011)

Longrow is distilled at Springbank distillery and is their more peated product and distilled twice (Springbank is distilled 2.5 times and is lightly peated). The nose is very much of smoked bacon and some good malt along with some very good fragrant notes. Vanilla and some Marmite and cow shed in the back ground. Bugger.  The taste is quite frankly sulphured. Evidence of some nice notes in there but lots of citrus (lemon), hugely mouth sucking dry and the Marmite but thankfully the cow shed is much muted. Some really good dark chocolate struggles for attention but it’s an up hill battle. The finish is refreshingly malty at first but then the funky sulphur takes over and some rotten eggs make an appearance. The extremely bitter after taste is really quite dire.

Bugger. Bugger. Bugger.


Score 54 points 

Duthies Ledaig 13yo

Duthies Ledaig 13yo

Ledaig 13yo (46%, Duthies, 660 Bts., +/-2010)

Ledaig is the peated product of from Tobermory distillery. Deep coal smoke and peat smoke on the nose followed by some really good malt along with barley dust, herbs and finally some raw pizza dough. But always present is some really good peat smoke and with a few minutes in the glass it changes from deep coal smoke to a simpler variant; peat smoke, lemon and some oak spice moments. The taste is malty at first and then pow! The coal smoke and peat reek come blasting forward along with some excellent dark chocolate dryness and some latter moments of cocoa. The peat is quite strong and this would give many Islay a run for their money. Very tasty, a really good combo of the peat and the malt. Tobermory firing on all cylinders here. The finish is very malty followed by the ever present peat smoke. Very clean but full of flavour, continues on for eons and hold together very nicely. Does not descend into chaotic bitterness.

Well done Tobermory (& Duthies for selecting this sample).


87 points


Duthies Bowmore 17yo

Bowmore 17yo (46%, Duthies, 573 Bts., +/- 2010)

The nose is very green (malt dust, fresh hay, cut grass etcetera) and then some with some malt and then some good peat smoke arriving at the last possible moment. Some time in the glass and the sample settles down and green notes are over taken by some good malt and the peat smoke. The taste is a departure some what from the nose, good malt and the now ever present peat smoke and the green notes are muted and in the back ground as a welcome accompaniment. Also some pleasant oak spice and dryness round things out. The peat smoke, after 17 years, is not overly aggressive however it is there to be counted.  A good balance of the peat smoke and the other flavours. The finish is malty, malty and then after a short while the peat smoke returns. Now it is mouth smackingly good with some really good deep peat smoke as a follow up characteristic. A sensational, warming finish that goes on for an extreme amount of time. Quite dry towards the tail end (many, many minutes into the journey).

A really good Bowmore, very enjoyable.


Score 85 points

Duthies 19yo longmorn

Duthies 19yo longmorn

Longmorn 19yo (46%, Duthies, 506 Bts., +/-2010)

The nose is gentle, clean with some really good notes of malt and brown sugar. A little hand warming brings out some fragrance with some honey (or brown sugar) aromas. Very elegant and the fragrance presents as heather and roses however these are not over whelming or dominant but a welcome addition to the family (a not so subtle royal wedding reference).  The taste is somewhat a departure from the nose in that it’s leather and tobacco (quite strong) followed by the fragrant notes of heather and rose with a hint of juniper and then a quick showing of malt and some oak spice. Quite good in fact. The finish is mildly citrus, lots of dark chocolate and the afore mentioned leather and tobacco and they all work quite well together. A long finish that turns slightly ‘green’ malt bitter at the last possible moment.

A complicated multi faceted sample but very tasty and enjoyable.


Score 86 points

Duthies 20yo Auchroisk

Duthies 20yo Auchroisk

Auchroisk 20yo (46%, Duthies, 714 Bts., +/-2010)

On the nose, well, it’s a little different. It presents with some good notes (barley, fruit and vanilla) however there is a briny Marmite characteristic that is mildly off putting. Further examination reveals marmalade, hessian. The taste is very malty and very dry, loads of wood notes along with sour candies and malt (slightly green) and again the Marmite notes. A real tussle between the Marmite notes which detract and the other good notes which are a real plus. The ever so slightest hint of the cow pasture which naturally is slightly off putting as well. The finish is very malty and all is good until the cow pasture and Marmite arrive to spoil the party. Damn. However the finish does recover some what but the pleasant notes struggle against the others….

A challenge and a pity because there are some really good moments in the mix. Face the sad fact that it’s tainted by sulphur…

Score 64 points


Whisky Intelligence has had the pleasure of tasting many Duthies bottlings however the delivery to the market place of the two sulphur tainted single malts as reviewed today is a customer service failure.

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