I know this is turning into the Cadenhead’s, Springbank and SMWS blog but what can I do? Selection bias.
This is the outturn with the Littlemill 40 in it (which I haven’t tried) and the vatted Islay (which I have). Plenty of good choices in this outturn, and mostly still available. The Glen Spey is a proper drammer, the Glenlossie a big old Scotch and the Speyside best in class. Except that vatted Islay.
According to Mark Watt, if they decide to release something as young as this it'd better be a good one.
Nose - Sweet, wax and mineral, a touch of tobacco. It's warm, scented candle wax and fresh cut mandarin (that's an in-joke because Cameron at Cadenhead's says if you have to write orange down for multiple different notes then mix it up and pick different types of orange. But I mean it!). A really lovely balance.
Body - Clean but full bodied, again it's in the balance with this one; wax, fruit and minerality. Lightly spiced with bright citrus freshness.
Finish - A firm transition off the fruit into robust malt and wood tannins.
A great "ordinary" drammer, it has it all - balance, structure and drinkability, and a fantastic waxy nose. Well recommended, and a bargain to boot.
Nose - Fat and creamy, more oranges! Much more obvious here, although I have a sinking feeling that this is now going to be an orangey outturn. It's more tropical actually, like neat tropical squash, and it has a really oily, almost dank edge to it (very much like a tropical DIPA). Waxier and fruitier with water, and the fruit is more exotic. It's really lovely.
Body - Ripe and lightly peated, big numbing orange oils and slightly charred, like the crispy bits off a piece of roast pork (with an orange glaze?). Another way of thinking about it is: big first fill bourbon, loads of fruit, a touch of petrol and chewed playbark.
Finish - Fat, lingering citrus oils. Finally, spicy.
This is one of those really compelling first fill bourbon casks, because it has restraint and herbal notes that balance out the fat fruit and vanilla. Delicious.
If you want fireworks, get this. If you want it a little calmer, get the Glen Spey. Both would be perfect cork chuckers.
Nose - Gentle, a light dusting of sawdust over Honeydew melon. There's a deeper fruit here though, it's like felt in an old drawer, matches and travel sweets. The old drawer is waxy and fruity with dry hardwood and constant varnishing, and travel sweets are oddly over the top and a bit petrolly.
Body - Fizzier and more bandagey than I was expecting, woody citrus and more of that felt. There is an underlying luxury I was hoping for and missed on first sip, it rounds out that fizzing and makes it more complete. Love hearts with water.
Finish - Long and fizzing, and quite bitter at first, a bit like dry lemsip. That bitterness becomes tannic with time though and that's the great balancer.
This is a really interesting and delicious whisky, it didn't quite do what I wanted it to (as a Glenrothes) but I could drink it all night long.
Nose - Red berries, fizzers, cracked rocks and chilled red wine. There is a theme developing in this flight and it's not the oranges, it's the balance of minerality and wax. This is the earthiest so far though.
Body - Rich, biscuity and just a touch of sulphur at the front. Big fruit toffee underneath this. Jammy dodgers with water.
Finish - Long and very tannic. Robust bitterness then red chilli.
The nose and delivery on this are fantastic, although very similar to the previous whiskies (must be the Campbeltown factor). The red chilli at the end is a fly in the ointment.
Nose - Drier, more elegant than those that came before it. Blueberries (the most intensely coloured and lightly flavoured of the berries), dry bamboo and baklava. And some kind of "stick in a bottle of oil" air freshener. So - weirdly fruited, light wood, perfumed.
Body - There's that dryness - refreshers first, then foxes glacier fruits. Then a big blast of structure - cut oak and liquorice root.
Finish - Very long with wood, wax, leather and sweetshop together. Hop bitterness (if you've had an excessively bittered beer, a high IBU American beer, this is what I mean).
Great distillery, this was unlikely to not be good I'm afraid. Complex and grown up Scotch.
Nose - Dark and glossily sweet, with candied, dark orange slices (ahem), grapefruit juice and raisins. But also old (blackened) varnished wood and citronella. A little swimming pool. It's proper old school.
Body - Oily and full of mid-range, spicy but not red chilli, old pipe tobacco (maybe even Beedis). Drier than the Aultmore but with that ancient cask note. Sweeter, even riper with water, but gentler.
Finish - Very long and a complex progression of wood tannins, cereal and spices. CK one.
An easy A⊕ this, it has that special something. They don't make them like this anymore (for £85 at least).
Nose - A little meaty. Pritt stick, dry mango slices and envelope glue (sorry). As with the Glenlossie, this is proper gear, only Scotland can deliver anything close to this kind of whisky. Green apple wax.
Body - It's the perfect balance that does it. That envelope glue is fence panel in the delivery, this is dry, elegant and very, very old.
Finish - Green chillies (not hot), cracking cinnamon sticks in your hand, green papaya. Really long, restrained but confident.
Just a superb whisky. This has the confident, elegant drinkability of the Glen Spey at the top, with all the bells, whistles and fireworks of a top flight Scotch. Get this one.
Nose - Slightly more cereal and winey, this feels a decade younger than the Speyside with more obvious cereal and fruit - tough act to follow though (and you need to bear this in mind when you read notes from big flights!). Actually, with time (and recovery) there is a really lovely biscuity fruit here (if that makes any sense at all), like the flesh scraped out of a melon skin with your teeth. And great wax (although I've had so much of that so far I'm starting to mentally delete it).
Body - There's something epic in here, gentle old toffee and wood, espresso coffee, but it's got to step round an astringent wood (splints)… damn this is just on the edge.
Finish - Toffee, astringent wood, a touch of iron. It's very long though, and lots of esters. More melon at the end.
I should have had this before the Speyside. It is good though.
Creations, Robust Smoky Embers (the vatted Islay), 46% A⊕+'
This is Ardbeg, Bowmore and Caol Ila, which were (according to Mark) mixed together to go into a live cask in the Campbeltown shop in 2004 and ended up languishing in the warehouse until 2013, when they were put into a sherry hogshead. And something about most of this being released before, and some left for later?
Nose – Uh-oh. This smells like very old Ardbeg and Laphroaig. Joss sticks, roast pork, matches but first there's that special old Islay thing… not the parmas of Bowmore, but a deeply sweet, dusty fecundity. It really reminds me of something expensive in the kitchen… Iberico ham and Turkish Delight? I can't quite get it.
Body - Faded peat, sweet Islay and wood, icing sugar wood… wet and very refill.
Finish - Medium to long with Banyuls and here's what was in the kitchen - vanilla pods and crushed, black cardamom seeds. I would like another.
Weird and very wonderful, a multi-grand whisky. Particularly on the nose, goodness me. Reminds me of that 32 year old Laphroaig, or some ancient oddity of an Ardbeg at the whisky show.