By Richard Thomas
* Updated October 22, 2013
For decades, one of the largest distilleries in the world limited itself to producing only a few average types of whiskey. The Spanish Distilerias y Crianza del Whisky (DYC) is a huge, two-plant complex with a staggering annual capacity of 20 million liters of whiskey, although the last statistics I saw listed DYC’s actual output at 2.3 million liters. Putting that in perspective, Glenfiddich is the world’s best-selling single malt, and they produce about 10 million liters a year (and not a drop of it is grain whiskey).
Yet for several decades, this big-but-obscure distillery in Spain limited itself mostly to producing a two or three labels of inexpensive, scotch-inspired whiskey with a light enough character to go well with ice, an important consideration for drinking whiskey in Spain’s sun-blasted summer months. Or at least they so limited themselves until the day their 10 Year Old Single Malt came along.
Released in 2010 and billed as the first installment of a collection of limited edition whiskeys, for the time being the DYC 10 Year Old stands as the distillery’s sole premium expression, as the distillery has no current plans to produce a second installment in the collection.
The DYC 10 Year Old Single Malt comes in packaging worthy of a fine whiskey. The squat, rounded, clear glass bottle shows off the whiskey’s light amber color, and comes with stylish inked labeling and a proper wood-and-cork stopper.
In addition to being older than anything else in the DYC line, this 10 YO single malt was distilled from specially chosen Castillian-Leonese barley, and aged in old American oak bourbon barrels.
In the glass, the DYC Single Malt has a fine, heavy gold color. The whiskey has a woody scent with thick, semi-sweet vanilla notes. The effect is leathery and somewhat smoky, as one might expect from an older whiskey. At this stage, I was left wondering if the climate of the Iberian Plateau has the same pseudo-accelerating effect on whiskey maturation as the steamy summers and freezing winters of Kentucky, because it smelled older than comparable Irish and Scottish 10 Year Olds.
On the palate, this whiskey is malty and silky, retaining the semi-sweet vanilla notes from the nose, and with a hint of spiciness coming on at the end. That latter point makes the flavor of this single malt, turning what would be merely pleasant into a liquor of moderate complexity. The finish is short and light, with a little lingering spice and a touch of fruitiness.
The care and extra aging of the DYC 10 Year Old really shows vis-a-vis the other DYC whiskeys I have experienced thus far. While this single malt is only two years older than the DYC’s blended 8 Year Old, it strikes a nice sipper’s balance between DYC’s characteristic lightness and the heft of possessing a decent age. I previously described DYC 8 as the whiskey you buy to stock your Spanish holiday rental. If you can find it, DYC 10 is the stuff you bring home from that vacation as a liquor shelf conversation piece and sipping whiskey.
I have been told that when it came out, the DYC 10 Year Old Single Malt was priced at €25, and that was in 2010. After hearing that DYC 10 YO was available again, I inquired with Beam Global and learned that a second release was made in 2013, with a slightly redesigned label. This second run seems to go for around €15.