SMWS 87.4

Millburn 15 Years Old 1983 87.4 (57.3%, SMWS, 1999)

  • Category: Highland single malt scotch whisky
  • Origin: Millburn Distillery [closed]
  • Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask 87.4
  • ABV: 57.3%
  • Cost: £150


What they say:

Distilled at Millburn Distillery in Inverness in December 1983 and matured for a full 15 years before bottling in September 1999 at cask strength of 57.3% (100.2° proof)

What I say:

Another trip to Fiddler’s Loch Ness and another chance to try out some unusual and rare whisky. I had hoped to break my Port Ellen duck during our visit in October 2016, however all but the most expensive PE drams available the previous year had gone and I wasn’t willing to pay the price of a bottle of whisky for a single dram! Instead I think this Millburn (SMWS Distillery code 87) came in at ~ £12.50 a dram, which is an absolute bargain for something pretty rare indeed. We had passed the old Millburn distillery several times during our visit (now a hotel) and I figured it was apt to try an Inverness whisky whilst we were visiting that fair city! This was distilled in December 1983, barely 12 months later and the distillery was shut in 1985 by its then owner Diageo.


Mid gold (7/20) slow-moving, medium-sized tears leave short fine legs


Citrusy on the nose with waxy lemons and hints of lime and orange, refreshing, quite a biscuit barley malt, together reminded me of soft lemon puff biscuits/or lemon creams, slightly nutty, ground almond paste (not quite marzipan) and linseed oil


Very smooth on the palate and slightly oily, lemon butter, gristy malted barley, a touch of spicy black pepper, citrus fruits, lemon, lime, orange including fresh juice and some zest/essential oil, rich creamy vanilla, a little oak wood, nutty again light almond or pistachio paste with a hint of linseed oil.


Medium-long, sweet and citric cream then oak wood and cocoa powder


Very pleasant and drinkable even at quite a high ABV. This seems to have been aged to perfection in balanced way between spirit and cask – which I am assuming was an ex-bourbon from the flavour profile. I wasn’t even hoping to come close to discerning  ‘distillery character’ on a single dram. If this is stereotypical, it seems that Millburn shares some affinity in character to it’s (reasonably) near neighbour in Inchgower distillery. Inchgower is also owned and operated by Diageo and this may have led in some way to the decision to close Millburn perhaps if the two were interchangeable for blending stock? All this is supposition however and back to the matter at hand – this really was a very nice dram, a little piece of history and reasonably priced too. Unfortunately I may well have taken the very last dram of this bottle at Fiddlers and I’m not sure there will be too many more like it available…

Score: 87/100

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Categories: Highland, Millburn

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1 reply »

  1. Nice review. From what I’ve read, a good Millburn is not the norm. Most of their releases were rough (based on other reviews) and only good for blends.

    That said, I’ve somehow also fluked out and tried a good one.


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