The Clan Denny range is released by the Glasgow based independent bottling company Douglas Laing & Co. The name is used for their ranges of single grain whiskies and a series of vatted malts. The origin of the Clan Denny name is a little hazy although Douglas Laing tell the story of a Taiwanese businessman who wanted a blended whisky to be made by them and named after himself. His name was Dennis and his suggestion was MacDennis, which Douglas Laing deemed to be too cheesy so changed it to Clan Dennis. Over time this has been adapted to Clan Denny.
The vatted malt part of the Clan Denny range includes these two whiskies - one in the Speyside style and one in the Islay style. A vatted malt is a whisky that consists of two or more single malt whiskies added together. The major difference between a vatted malt and a blended whisky is that vatted malts only contain single malt whiskies, whereas blends contain a mixture of single malts and grain whisky. Both bottlings retail at £30-35 for a 750ml bottle.
Clan Denny 'Speyside'
This vatted malt contains single malt whiskies from four Speyside distilleries - Dufftown, Glendullan, Linkwood and Mortlach. All four are common in other vatted malts and blends and Speyside is known for its soft, rounded and easy drinking whiskies. The colour is pale gold and the nose is fresh. The obvious note is strong oaky vanilla but behind this is something citrus (think of lemon zest), a hint of dried fruit (sultanas especially), yeast and fresh green fruit (imagine pears and apples). On the palate, this feels thin and spirity with those pears and apples present again (this is a classic sign that some pretty young whisky is included in the vatting process). The vanilla and oakiness again overpower everything, although the other elements from the nose are there but subdued, making it quite one dimensional. The ABV is 46% and with the addition of water it becomes sweeter (think of honey) and slightly more pleasant. The finish is dry (beyond dry if that is possible) and woody but thankfully short. Not my favourite ever dram, to be honest.
Clan Denny 'Islay'
The Islay vatted malt consists of single malts from five of the distilleries on the famous whisky producing island - Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila and Laphroaig. Islay is well known for the production of heavy, smoky, peaty whiskies. The colour of this is darker and more amber (as can be seen on the photo above). The nose is also more appetising with an obvious yet pleasant hit of earthy, peaty smoke. This is backed up by a sweet cereal note (think of barley grains), some vanilla and a whiff of salty sea air. On the palate, this is packed with smokiness that starts off being damp, earthy and mossy and turns quite spicy and hot (think of chilli or peppercorns). It has a distinct salty tang that makes your mouth water and feels creamy and full bodied. There is again some vanilla and cereals and these are joined by a bitter phenolic (almost like antiseptic) note right at the end. With water, the smoke becomes more like coal smoke and the whole dram is much lighter. The finish is long, salty and very smoky, with the peatiness taking ages to fade to nothing. Definately the better out of the two whiskies.