When HBO and Diageo announced that they were going to release a collection of single malts to coincide with the final series of Game of Thrones, the excitement was palpable. When they stated that there were going to eight single malts the next questions were: which distilleries, when and how much?
The release that surprised me the most of the single malts was this one. I must confess that I had never heard of Glendullan and nor did I think that House Tully was particularly big or exciting enough (certainly from only having watched the TV series) to be represented in this collection. With that surprise therefore came intrigue. A new distillery to sample and some digging into why House Tully was making an appearance…
Each of the single malts‘ packaging in this series is accompanied by a passage that explains the link between the distillery and their GoT counterpart. For the Singleton of Glendullan the passage reads:
House Tully’s ancestral keep, Riverrun, spans the junction of the Red Fork of the Trident and the Tumblestone River. Ruling as Lord of the Riverlands, under the house sigil of a silver trout flashing above rushing water, House Tully embodies the surge of the rivers among which they live. With the determination of river waters that never cease moving, they formed powerful alliances and fight against the current for family, duty and honour.
Situated on the banks of the River Fiddich in the wooded hills of Dufftown, Glendullan originally relied on the waters that surrounded it. Harnessing the force of the waters that flowed through the land, it utilised a water wheel to power the entire distillery. Best served with a splash of water, this scotch has notes of green apple, honey and sweet vanilla and finishes dry and cleanThe Singleton of Glendullan / House Tully
Other than this piece of marketing and the general tasting notes described about there is little else said about this “Reserve” release, other than the essentials: it’s released at 40% ABV and, like the rest of the series, not at its natural colour but with “Zuckercolor/Farbstoff”, presumably to sure uniformity throughout the series.
Initially it’s a very clean malt smell and seems quite light. It’s then followed by sweet fruits like apple, pear, and peach. It’s really quite sweet and flowery actually, reminding me of honeysuckle, orange peel and toffee apples. A little more time and there’s honeycomb too, and a sweet little chocolate smell that reminds me of Cadbury’s Crunchies. Lot of vanilla actually. Good malt. Some oak.
Wow, before any flavours unfurl the instant experience is a velvety soft texture on the tongue – toffee apple flavours follow and more of those warming spices. Ginger. Nutmeg. Lots of nutmeg actually. Clove. Lots of clove actually too. Warming spices without being peppery.
It’s all very gentle with a little flourish of malt, oak and spice but a relatively short lived experience with the lasting sweet and fizzy sensation of sherbet dib dabs.
Well, it’s not the most exciting malt of the series but it’s not really bad one anyone. A critic would say that it’s plain, thin and one dimensional. A positive perspective however would say that it’s light, malty and very quickly quaffable. Having spent some time with the bottle (rather than basing it on a short dram-ple) I think that you can really get to dig out lots of little flavours (just see how many different notes there are above) but collectively it’s simple, clean and enjoyable.
As for House Tully in the range, as I’ve mentioned above, this one caught me by surprise at first. It seemed to be bit of a stretch and maybe just an extension too far to cash-in on the collectibility of the series. Having looked into, I understand that House Tully are more of an important force within the books. The inclusion of House Tully acts as a representative of the 9 “Great Houses of Westeros”, omitting Houses Martell and Arryn. It begs the question though as why not include those two so as to get the complete set? Maybe even drop The Night Watch (though not the whisky from Oban itself as it is pretty damn tasty). The link with Riverrun and the distillery’s position on the River Fiddich does sort of seem like a nice, convenient fit. When thinking about it further I guess the Tullys are more important in the books. Obviously there’s Catelyn who is mother to the Starks, and there’s the Lady Stoneheart storyline that’s was t visited in the TV series. The Blackfish is a laugh though. Edmure Tully seems to be more comic relief.
What about House Martell then? A malt representing Dorne could easily be a spicy Diageo family member. Maybe a loose link between the sands of the shore or a Loch side beach with the Sand sisters? Actually, I don’t want to think about Oberyn’s battle with The Mountain. As for House Arryn, I’m kinda glad to not see them represented here. Any reference to House reminds me Lysa Arryn and the fall from the eyrie. Lysa Arryn/Tully and the eerie freaked me out, let alone the very late breastfeeding element to creepy Robin.
As this is my last malt from the series, it has got me thinking about who else could be represented though. Outside the Great Houses, that is. Tarly would be an option in terms of TV. Good old Samwell. So too would Bolton? Maybe a bottle of whisky with a flayed man wouldn’t really shift the units? House Clegane? Some big strong flavoured malts to represent The Mountain and/or The Hound would be good. What about the whisperers? Littlefinger. Varys. I guess they didn’t have Houses – which was Littlefinger’s largest chip on his shoulder – but with the ninth malt being The Three-Eyed Raven, it seems that anything was up for grabs really. The Iron Bank? The Golden Company? The White Walkers were covered off by the (somewhat awful) Johnnie Walker blend. The Wildlings? The Nights Watch got one!
It might sound harsh but for what seems to be the most bland malt of the series of whiskies, it seems appropriate to be with the most innocuous House. Probably the best choice of the remaining Great Houses.
Anyway, back to the whisky and I had never heard of Glendullan until this series really. From what I understand it is used primarily in the US market (where this series would mostly be getting most of its traction) but Glendullan is something of a classic within the indie bottle g circles apparently.
In conclusion then, a critic could call this a Glen Dull ‘un. (Dully and Tully?) but actually, overall I still enjoyed it as an easy sipper. For anyone interested in exploring one of the GoT series this is an easy going malt, but almost to the point of being almost too easy going and in reality I’m sure this would be bought by the completists only. I wouldn’t turn it down in a bar but am also glad that I paid a discount price for it too.
Sample disclosure: bought it myself and all notes are intended as an honest, fair and independent review of the whisky itself and not a promotion. Please drink responsibly and wisely.