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Monday, September 6, 2021

Banff 35 year old 1975 Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask 3350

This week will mark the Highland Park cluster's last interruption. Wednesday will bring a surprising but mathematically correct anniversary, so please excuse this brief diversion. The cluster will restart a week from today.

I've always been a big fan of Banff. When it's good, it's as great as most of the beloved dead distilleries. When it's done wrong, well, I haven't had one of those yet. This is my last Banff sample. I don't foresee taking part in any future Banff bottle splits, because even those have become hella pricey. So let us (the royal 'us') close out the Banff experience with the longest-aged Banff I've ever Banffed, a 35yo from DT's warehouses.

Distillery: Banff
Ownership: DCL (proto-Diageo)
Independent Bottler: Duncan Taylor
Range: Rarest of the Rare
Region: Speyside (Deveron)
Age: 35 years old (November 1975 - March 2011)
Maturation: ???
Cask #: 3350
Outturn: 289 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 45.4%
(sample from a bottle split)


The nose is loaded with coal, coal stoves, chimneys, hot charcoal. There's some steel wool and saline in the background. But it's not all industry. Mango and guava juices ride up front with the coal. Yuzu, honey and shortbread biscuits drift across the periphery.

Sadly, the palate does not continue the narrative initiated by the nose. The first two sips begin respectably, with salt, bitter herbs, weed, copper, sweet oranges and nectarines. But then things go tannic. Very tannic. It becomes difficult to see beyond the oak. Perhaps some metal and citrus remain.

It has a mild finish. A little smoky and salty, with a bit of orange candy. But then the tannins move in.


This Banff's pinot grigio color gave me some high hopes, expectations that were bolstered by the nose. But then the palate revealed that this cask was as tired as I was at age 35. (I had my first newborn then, so that was my excuse.) Perhaps the whisky overstayed its welcome for a decade or so, or maybe this was always going to be a difficult cask. Taking the outturn and ABV into consideration, this was either a hoggie that abandoned its alcohol, or a wonky refill sherry butt, leaking everything. The spirit is still there in the nose, so a solid cask plus great management could have resulted in something gorgeous. But that was not the whisky's fate.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - ????
Rating - 82


  1. Oh joy. Guess who has an unopened bottle...

    1. Santa Claus? It's Santa Claus, right? Please say it's Santa Claus.