Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Cadenheads Small Batch–July 2016

These are notes from a preview tasting of the Cadenhead’s Small Batch outturn for July 2016.  The Small Batch range are small vattings of two or more casks – often only two.  This is perfect I think – two casks can fill in some gaps that might be present in a single cask without losing single-cask type interest or quirks.  These vattings are often quite old and very good. 

There’s also a couple of really big guns in here, a Tomatin 39 and Jura 30.  Sadly they were very limited in the UK and preallocated.  The last old Tomatin small batch was the 35 year old, one of my favourite whiskies of all time, so I was extremely keen to try this.

Auchentoshan 17 years old, 55.5% A⊕

20160629_202236Nose - Sweet, gentle and berried, very relaxed - white chocolate, vanilla ice cream and a gentle tobacco. Really creamy, really rich. Slightly more in distillery character with water.

Body - Creamy and a little bit of funk, a lot of ice cream and wood splints. More complex spices with water.

Finish - Medium, fresh and slightly hot. Long oils.

A lovely, clean, easy drinking Auchentoshan. Recommended.

Blair Athol 19 years old, 54.5% A+

20160629_202136Nose - Complex and berried, very clean with fresh mint leaves and perfume. Meatier with water.

Body - Quite herbal, quite meaty, very oily. Lamb fat and mint bonbons. Very complete and very herbal with water, with a slight (and welcome) sulphur backnote

Finish - Long and quite chalky. Astringent even. But there's a real stewed fruit depth in here with red chilli. Very compelling.

This is quite a weird one, but keeps you coming back for more.

Glen Spey 14 years old, 46% B+

20160629_202225Nose - Liquorice imps, more mint, marzipan on exhale. Rose hand-cream.

Body - Soft and creamy; Victoria sponge with strawberry jam.

Finish - Lightly spiced, quite long but quite one-dimensionally wooded

A competent drinker but lacking midrange.

Speyside 24 years old, 50.5% A⊕

20160629_202139Nose - Clean cask wax, mature barley, a classical nose. But a really deep sweetshop note, whistle pops and truffles.

Body - I would have called this for a mature Auchentoshan… there's funky fruit and real complete set of oils in this, apricot jam and sweet liquorice allsorts.

Finish - Medium, but with a lovely wood-fruit balance and complex balance right to the end.

Lovely stuff, really classy.

Glen Grant 23 years old, 53.1% A⊕+

20160629_202143Nose - Classier and more mature here, with crayons and a touch of poster paints. Weirdly, fried carrot and black pepper? I love the balance and midrange in this - musk and wax. Green apple, with time. It smells very, very expensive.

Body - Complex, old and very ripe. Extremely rich with roast chicken and lemon shells. More glazed with water, with a great sulphur back note.

Finish - Long and very ripe. Lemon bonbons. Really deep.

An awesome whisky,mature beyond it’s years.

Aberlour 25 years old, 51.4% A⊕+

20160629_185702Nose - Gentler but very classy again, wax and birthday candles, fresh soil and a ripe red wine behind it. I love the earthy background here.

Body - Really rich… stewed apple with raisins, royal icing, apple sorbet? Weirdly refreshing like an excellent Sauternes.

Finish - Tart tatin with vanilla ice cream. Long and beautiful, with gentle toffee, pepper and banana milkshake. Tropical burps and blood at the end.

This is superb. The Glen Grant is superb, classical and mature, but this is just my type of thing.  But Phil is still in love with the Glen Grant and by this point is chanting: Auchie Auchie Auchie! Grant Grant Grant!

Glendullan 19 years old, first fill bourbon, 53.45% A⊕+

20160629_190830Nose - Musky cask, boiled sweets, treacle tart. Cut plums, truffle honey and a touch of iron filings. Soap. Hot radiator with water. Very good.

Body - Wax and spice, a touch of cardboard.  Slight Oloroso sherry nuttiness and plum tannins at the side of the mouth. Oilier with water, lovely waxes.

Finish - Medium and winey with good oils. I'm reminded of a sherry laden salad dressing with fried garlic (not the sulphur, but the rich depth).

Another cracker.

Dailuaine 11 years old first fill sherry, 46% A⊕

20160629_202246Nose - Fresh Isle of Wight tomatoes, olive oil and rare beef. Reminds me of arriving at a black marbled, expensive restaurant for a meal of many courses. Savoury, mineral, very interesting.

Body - Crikey… beautifully sherried (despite being very pale) but lots of spirit character too - almonds, dates, emulsion paint. Even better with water, lovely balanced sherry.

Finish - Apple pie with raisins… orange zest and balanced tannins.

Fascinating. The salad and rare beef on the nose, and deceptive sherry on the delivery (really balanced too).

Tomatin 39 years old, 43.8% A⊕⊕

20160629_194354Nose - Glorious. Of course it's a fruit bomb - peaches and kiwi fruit, gentle structure… it's perfect.

Body - Deep and perfect - the fruit, the cask and the gentle petrolic structure of ‘70s Tomatin. A touch of juicy fruit chewing gum, strawberry laces at the back of the throat. Really beautiful with a drop of water, pure high class Chardonnay.

Finish - Old and gentle, perfectly poised. Very long, very drying at the end.

It's what you thought it would be like.

Jura 30 years old, 42.5% A⊕+’

Nose - Gentle but zesty and mineral. Such classy cask, with cologne, white pepper, candied orange and fresh emulsion paint.

Body - Orange juice. Mint bonbons. Fresh red apple. Perfect with just a gentle ghost of toffee and tobacco.

Finish - Long with fresh magazine and red apple skin. Perfectly balanced, toffee and tannins.

This is significantly better than I thought it would be, a really fantastic dram.


We also re-tried the Glenrothes 26 year old from last time (a lot better than I remember it) and the new batch of Longrow 18 (sherry and rum cask) which is totally fantastic too.  And Bret’s 80’s Springbank from Japan which is waxy as hell but a story for another time…

Some we missed (due to lack of samples) but will also be in the outturn are a North British 31, Caledonian 28. The outturn is out on Friday.  Cheers!



  1. Edit... The outturn goes live at about 4pm today (Thursday)

  2. but for a bottle of that Tomatin...