A year of monthly releases at Cadenhead’s continues and we haven’t even got to the “anniversary” bottles yet. And what will be released at the Cadenhead’s masterclass at Campbeltown festival?
Apologies this is late again, I really am having trouble keeping up with these releases, but most of this is still in stock anyway. Strathisla, Bruichladdich and Bladnoch are my picks this month, but I know lots of other people who were very taken by the Glen Grant and Miltonduff.
Nose - Clean and honest, but with that sparkling, fresh, wax cask that whisky "used to have" (you know, before you got so old and jaded). Floral, sweet and chalky. There is some youth here though, royal icing, vanilla cream and candy cigarettes… somehow reminiscent of hand soap and panna cotta. Milkier with water, more complex and gentle wood.
Body - Sweet but cereal, a little white pepper and dandelion sap. It's woody and numbing but the white, floral sweetness balances it out. Spicier with water.
Finish - Medium long, very chalky with more chewed petals and milk bottle sweets.
This is a cracking whisky. It is, quite rarely for me, a whisky that tastes younger than its years and that I love it because of that. Highly recommended.
Body - Unexpectedly earthy and chocolatey, then something very savoury like fried Padron peppers and chewed matchsticks. At the back, preserved lemons and roast chicken. This unravels with water.
Finish - A little short, that oil from the roast persists and the astringency is from the lemon pips and strawberry laces (realising that they mainly taste of plastic). Splints and a long, drying but slightly unforgiving finish with water.
A good, promising nose but a serious lack of fun on the delivery.
Nose - More preserved lemon, but this is unmistakably Bruichladdich, you can just feel it. That intensely sweet, coastal nose, with green apple and gentle refill bourbon cask. There's a muscularity behind this - rich with clay and wax, perfectly balanced but restrained. I wouldn't have been surprised to find this over 30.
Body - Superb. This actually reminds me of old Longrow, not in the peating but in the alien, almost cheesy maturity. Rich, soft and remarkable with peach, toffee and cracked black pepper. Waxier with water, and a sudden burst of childhood banana amoxicillin.
Finish - Very long with medicinal notes, but the initial flash of tropical fruit subsides quite quickly. Chewed orange peel bitterness at the end, and the lemon is back. Actually no, after that a touch of funk in among the citrus. A little soft liquorice with water.
Phenomenal. I've felt that way about a lot of recent Cadenhead’s laddies.
Nose - Fresh again, more lemon! Like lemon handwash on a bracingly cold day. This has rich cask underneath, ripe complexity but the nose on this one is very restrained and it somehow doesn’t grab me like the Strathisla.
Body - Intense, tropical, toffee sweetness with new carpet and a touch of funk (and roasted orange halves). This is a proper Linkwood on the delivery - fruit, slightly clarty. More assertive with water, with wine gums and pine needles.
Finish - Chalky bonbons, chewed aniseed, long with lots of fruit toffee. Big tannins at the end.
This is a ripe, robust whisky in the delivery with an oddly restrained nose.
Body - Sweet but sharp, a little burnt, some lactic acid. Water doesn't help.
Finish - Long but one dimensional - there's more jelly sweets and tannins but it's too sharp and the maturity is lost.
A whisky I would describe as "unhappy".
Nose - Classy, winey, old matches and cigar wrappers. Soft bark and cold coffee. There's a slightly sweaty note here, like Special K breakfast cereal, behind that some really elegant barley. Better with water, loses the Special K, more coffee, more cask, and so it’s just… more elegant.
Body - Sweetshop, intense perfume, more barley and candy cigarettes. A really classy, laid back and delicious delivery. Again, better with water - more fizzers, more fruit (green apple).
Finish - Long with white wine and the dibber from a sherbet dib-dab (a touch of fizzer at the side of the tongue).
A delicious delivery, the nose doesn't quite work without water. An elegant and accomplished whisky, although no fireworks.
I kind of had my expectations set at the level of the October 2016 Glenfarclas when I approached this (although of course that was a sherry cask), quite unfairly probably, so this hasn’t quite lived up.
Nose - It's Bladnoch from miles away, all cereal and fresh laundry (every time!). Some jelly sweets and fresh Marlboro light tobacco on top here, and superficially quite young feeling (as they often are) on the nose. Some porridge, some "hot baby", but there's really exciting, complex, mature cask underneath.
Body – Delightful. This is proper old, "ordinary" whisky, a real refill bourbon! The tannins are barely softened by time and what wood there was isn't hidden behind sugar but it's tough and balancing the mellowed spirit.
Finish - Long and quite peppery for the ABV, Danish pastry with icing, hoppy burps.
Hard to argue with something this classy. Again no fireworks but this doesn't put a foot wrong. One for a really good sit down and a think about something worth thinking about (like, whether to take up a new hobby).
Miltonduff 38 years old, 46.5% A+
Nose - Reminds me of the other really old Miltonduff I've had, perhaps the definition of old and blustering Scotch, this is gentler though (on the nose at least), with new plastic, kola kubes, fresh mango and just the faintest gunpowder on exhale. There is a really persistent, classy, gentle tropicality here - very calming. Even fruitier with water.
Body - Unexpectedly floral, strangely peppery, harder than expected, like an unripe pear. It does very much taste of pear actually, pear drops perhaps, quite hot too. Green apple with water, much better but a touch of hot plastic.
Finish - Very long and fruity with coffee and midget gems. Lots of wood at the end, strangely unforgiving for 38.
A really phenomenal nose here but slightly strange in the delivery - too sour, too much plastic. It just doesn't sit well with me.
Glen Grant 31 years old, 44.8% A+’
Nose - Clean, given the colour, quite wooded - wood glue, beeswax, but floral with a bright, fresh maturity. The low strength, classic presentation and really lovely, balanced age makes this feel like a multi-grand old OB offering. And also, it really, really smells like a distillery visitors centre. Wow. More masculine, even classier with water.
Body - The delivery is highly reminiscent of very old Calvados, actually the nose makes sense in that context now too. Sweet, highly wooded, very lacquered with tart tatin and magic balloons. Delicious but unexpectedly appley. Biterrer with water, but a little richer.
Finish - Medium, with coffee grounds and the aftermath of a toffee penny. Longer with water, some black pepper and big tannins.
A simply wonderful nose but it doesn't quite deliver to that promise on the palate.
Potters Distillery, Canada, 31 years old, 57.1% B
Nose - Hard, slightly charred with a very distinct Battenberg note to it. Maybe almond croissant too, apple Danish. I haven't quite got my head round Canadian whisky yet and this isn't helping, it's like an upside down bourbon. Better with water, more pastry and not quite so simplistic (more smouldering charcoal though).
Body - Icing sugar sweet, hard again, with charred wood, slightly funky. Grapefruit and iced buns. More balanced again with water, but to me this is not a very competent whisky.
Finish - Long and excessively sweet, almost saccharine. Grapefruit bitterness at the end.
Weird - I would have said this was a *very* young whisky in a first fill cask blind, but maybe I just don't understand Canadian whisky.
Ledaig 11 years old, 61.8% A⊕
Nose - That's a lot better, welcome back to Scotland. Sweet, cereal led and coastal, with cooking apples, a touch of melted insulation and a crisp, malty lager. This is robustly peated, but balanced sweetness, minerality (crushed shells), wood and salt make it very satisfying to nose. This is funky like society Caol Ilas used to be, including the salt and vinegar crisps with water.
Body - Again; sweet, crisp, orchard fruit and rich, slightly dank peat. Like the best heavily peated whisky, this is balanced with intense sweetness. Fruitier with water, like Starburst/Opal Fruits. Fantastic.
Finish - Long with just ripe pear and aspirin. Charred wood at the end.
I'm struggling to recall a youngish IB Ledaig that wasn't excellent, and this is another fantastic cask. The fruit and fireworks with water make this stand out. Sold out now of course but there will be another excellent cask along soon no doubt.