By Richard Thomas
“Lead on, MacDuff!” Although not as popular as some other Shakespearean quotations, this line from MacBeth has still entered the popular lexicon. Yet I would be remiss if I didn’t nod at all the actors and English majors I’ve known through the years if I didn’t pause to point out the source for this Wemyss single cask’s name is actually a misquote. The actual line reads:
“Lay on, Macduff.
And damned be him who first cries ‘Hold, enough!'”
Wemyss chose the name because the single cask for this release comes from the Highland distillery MacDuff. Located in Deveron, the distillery’s name has shifted between Glen Deveron and MacDuff since its opening in the early 1960s. That makes it one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland. Originally part of William Lawson, a couple of mergers and buy-outs resulted in the distillery’s transfer to Dewar’s.
Lead On MacDuff is relatively young for a Wemyss single cask release, being a 2002 distillate (11 years old at the 2013 bottling). That might explain the large issue of 854 bottles, since the angel’s share would be consequently smaller. As usual, the bottling was at 46% abv.
The color is the light gold of a mature, but merely mature single malt. The nose, however, had a full-boded, oily-textured scent, packed with toffee, field grass and toasty wood. The flavor delivered the same oiliness on the mouthfeel, and joining the toffee and wood is a current of lightly smoked creosote. The finish was light, with an ashy aftertaste.
While not the best release I’ve had from the Wemyss single cask line, the price (see below) and the prevalent, well-proportioned smoke note throughout the whisky make it a good buy for curious drinkers who want smoke in their scotch.
Possibly due to the double-sized release, I have seen Lead On MacDuff listed at between £55 and £45 ($92 to $75).