This was released way back in the last week of October, and my late notes are another victim of my hectic November. But I was able to make them more complete than normal (for Cadenheads) as a result. I’m getting this out just ahead of the November outturn (which is small but perfectly formed with a Hazelburn and Springbank to match the fabulous Longrow here). There’s some fantastic other bottles in October though, a big sherry Glenfarclas, a cracking red wine cask and a very special teenage Laphroaig.
Cambus 28 years old, 46.6% B+
1988, 216 bottles, ex-bourbon
Nose - Typical Cadenhead's grain - lots of classy wood. Gentle but masculine sweetness (leather, sandalwood, coffee being made next door), slightly dusty, a touch of ozone and thick orange peel. Behind that, milk tart, sponge cake (but only faintly). After sipping, waxier. After water, harder waxes, classroom chalk and unchewed black jacks.
Body - Fresh but dry and green - so olives and Fino. Actually this is most reminiscent of a gin martini, but with that much more interesting nose. Olive oil and lemon wax. Too faint with water - the cakes disappear and the martini is quite austere.
Finish - Medium and cakey, but clean and mineral. Quite dry and herbal, gin again. Fizzingly tannic at the sides of the tongue with water.
I could easily dram this easy drinking and austere grain all night, but I probably wouldn't end up paying much attention.
Tomintoul 10 years old, 56.9% B⊕
2006, 258 bottles, ex-bourbon
Nose - Of course this is richer and oilier than the grain, which always comes as a relief no matter how much I enjoy the grains. Birthday candles (which always seem to go with the buttercream icing), sweet, dusty cask and cut oranges. Slightly hollow; great top dressing and bass but not enough midrange, like an old but overpriced big commercial blend would be. Better with water, that midrange fills in a bit, now it feels like an older Arran on the nose.
Body - Big and robust, quite young and sour though, sharp fruit, black pepper and a little red chilli. Lemon curd behind that, and hot buttered toast.
Finish - Long with thick citrus notes and spicy cask. With water, longer and more herbal - bay, cut flowers, black pepper.
A good nose on this but an ordinary delivery.
Littlemill 24 years old, 52.2% B+
Body - Waxy - crayons and sharpened colouring pencils. A flash of warm, baked apples and raisins, warm Sauvignon blanc. Pencil cases with water.
Finish - Long and peppery, unripe and austere. Hazelnuts at the end. Faintly tropical with water.
An honest whisky, but not one I'd turn to often. There's nothing wrong with it but frankly I prefer the Tomintoul.
Loch Lomond (Inchmurrin), 19 years old, 49.5% A+
1996, 318 bottles, ex-bourbon
Nose - Noses like a red wine cask. Ripe, red apple, wood polish, blood orange peel and fence panels. There's something deeply delicious about the nose, but that might just be that the previous whiskies were so austere. Just a slight hint of something funky - cigar tobacco and earth. Waxier with time, school hall levels…
Body - Toffee, chewed pencils, apple and potato peelings. Toast and just a touch of truffle honey. Just on the delicious side of cardboardy.
Finish - Long but tannic, cold red wine. Green Sichuan peppercorns without the lemon. Charred newspaper at the end.
A lovely nose on this, like a good red wine cask, great fruit and structure. A very drinkable delivery, but lacking a little luxury.
Longmorn, 26 years old, 55.3% A⊕
1990, 162 bottles, ex-bourbon
Nose - Very mature and very refill. Waxy cask, slightly petrolic, cut ruby grapefruit and wood polish, the very definition of classy. I wouldn't have been surprised to find this nose on a multi-grand old Japanese malt. Even better with water, more orange and more old lacquered wood.
Body - Rich, wide and mouth filling, with charred pastry and lightly peated (it seems). Orange, vanilla, tobacco and toffee play out the delivery. Muskier with water.
Finish - Very long, with roasted oranges and French cooked pastry. A slightly floral, rotten note takes the edge off late in the finish, a little swimming pool retronasally at the end. More tannic with water but still just as fun.
A luxurious, delicious and slightly challenging whisky. You'd pay attention while dramming this one.
Bunnahabhain, 26 years old, 45.9% A⊕'
1989, 246 bottles, ex-bourbon
Nose - Displaying the beginnings of that deep, toffee, alien sweetness that 26 year old Bunna has, this is sweet, complex, floral and confident. And beginning to be a bit weird too, with hops, laundry liquid and lemon sherbets. More tropical fruit with water.
Body - Complex, coastal (slightly salty) and most definitely peated. Peppery, slightly dirty peat at that. Palm oil and pine nuts. Funkier, more oily wood with water, more tannic too.
Finish - Cigarette tobacco and burnt toast. Great oils and a real, classic old bunna finish here. With time, pineapple (near the skin) and ripe mango.
Much more important than the Longmorn and old beyond its years (more like 36), highly recommended.
Glenfarclas, 26 years old, 50.8% A⊕+
Nose - Wow… big and old like a “family cask”, sweetly winey with overripe apple like a batch X PX Glendronach. Leather, felt, baked apple and fruit salad chews, bright and delicious, I could smell this all night. Even better with water, with red cherries and sugar crusted shortbread.
Body - A delicious sherry bomb, loads of demerara rum and practically cookie dough in its sweetness. Tart tatin, dank cigars.
Finish - Medium, the sweetness is saved somewhat by a complex maturity with Asian fruit and aniseed. So much fruit!
An unexpectedly full on big old sherry bomb, and perfectly done. A guilty pleasure, a little, but a good substitute for one of those older, very expensive OBs and highly recommended.
Strathmill, 20 years old, 52.7% A⊕
1995, Chateaux Lafitte since 2009
Nose - Cadenhead's like a long wine finish, at least 6 years. This is a meaty one, stewed red wine and beef, carrots and bay. It's deeply satisfying on the nose, with chocolate covered marzipan, coffee beans and Simnel cake. And of course a truckload of oranges. More tobacco with water.
Body - Hot, dank, meaty and nutty red wine cask. More nutty and sweetly sexy than your average Society gorda, and really juicy too. Blood orange marmalade, sweet chilli sauce and sesame snaps.
Finish - Long and sweet, Foxes glacier fruit (the orange ones of course).
Deeply, deeply delicious. Wow. Good casking! I really regret not picking up a bottle of this.
Longrow, 14 years old, 49.3% A⊕+
Nose - Clean and clear. Balanced cereal, honey, sea shells and burning driftwood, and really, really refreshing. Waxed wood. With time and sipping, this becomes much more interesting, real old Islay funk and fruit. Fabulous.
Body - Complete and complex, pineapple, marzipan and glace cherries. Don't add water.
Finish - Long with enormous fruit in the finish; pineapple jelly, lemon tart, then lime jelly and just loads of jelly. Then cake.
Noses and drinks like a mid-30s Islay OB, it's that "complete". There's no way I would have called this for Campbeltown let alone 14, but I know I really, really like it.
Caol Ila, 15 years old, 53% A⊕
Nose - Bright and solventy, a remarkable purity for mid-teens Caol Ila. The S&V is tempered by window putty and Sauternes, fried rosemary and wet marble. I like it. After sipping the nose improves further, with chocolate brazil nuts and coffee beans.
Body - Rich and exceptionally delicious, it's the slight funk that does it, the hint of frying oil against the intense citric acid S&V crisps. Lightly tropical too.
Finish – Medium, with crisps. Mouth-watering tannins. Cake. At the end this just feels like a long afternoon in a distillery.
Fantastic stuff for a 15, highly recommended. I've got way too much Caol Ila to entertain buying a bottle of this but if you haven't, and you can find this, dive in.
Laphroaig, 18 years old, 55.9% A⊕+
1998, 204 bottles, ex-bourbon
Nose - Sweetly coastal, slightly rotten like an old mussel shell on the beach, slightly oversweet like a browning windfall apple. Mineral alongside this, with lemon sweets and cold marble. I keep coming back to that overripe apple, fascinating, because it matches the Islay peat perfectly (like Kilchoman has) but it's a lot softer. An undercurrent to this (like trying to catch something out of the corner of your eye) is lightly fetid hospitals - bandages and laundry. Actually it’s the minerality that's tying this all together. Slightly meatier, more toast with water.
Body – “Lite” but complete, soft but brightly fizzing and citrus. Charred oak logs and sesame snaps with olives and satsumas. A really rounded delivery with an ever-present medicinal tannin behind it. Even better with water, like one of the Elements Lp's; very sweet with fetid germolene and lemon pepper. Exciting like a tequila and a slice of lime, but complex and grown up too.
Finish - Extremely long, almost never-ending with sherbet lemon and fizzers.
An unannounced intensity on this one, arresting and delicious, and utterly unputdownable.
I should have November’s outturn notes by Friday morning in time for it to go live on the site..