Thursday, 22 March 2018

Cadenhead's Small Batch March 2018

The square bottles are my favourite.

Strathclyde 1993, 28 years old, 55.8% B+

2 barrels, 390 bottles

STRATHCLYDE 28 55.8 390 BOTTLES 2X SMALL BARRELSNose - Obvious grain at first. Then fruit, a little austere but fresh and ripe. Gentle toffee, a cap from a cap gun, green apple and butter. It's very gentle but quite reassuring. Flintier with water, old ice cubes - maybe cider ice lollies.

Body - Wood, cream and more apple (apple pie now). Lots of oil. More astringent with water.

Finish - Short but chocolatey, woods and some tannins later but the fruit is quickly spent.

A decent drinker and a rather intriguing but comforting nose, but otherwise a little ordinary.

Teaninich 2006, 11 years old, 55.2% A+

2 bourbon hogsheads, 450 bottles

TEANINICH 11 55.2 450 BOTTLESNose - Bright and chalky, good wax and a slightly agave character. Some unlit Marlboro lights, some midget gems (lots with water). The nose reminds me of a hot summer night in a whisky bar.

Body - Clean and delicious, more tobacco plus licked cigarette papers and black pepper catching near the tonsils. Toasted marshmallow with water.

Finish - Long, quite spicy, black grape skins and cigar wrappers. Oilier with water, more fruit in the finish and reduced spice.

A robust, honest and delicious drammer. Ordinary but good for it (in contrast with the Strathclyde).

Auchroisk 2006, 11 years old, 46% B+

2 bourbon hogsheads, 783 bottles

AUCHROISK 11 46 783 BOTTLESNose - Sweet and cold, icing sugar and crushed granite but with a little hint of Islay in it. Depth too; caramel, fig rolls and a slightly musky cask. Clean and straightforward, maybe a little flypaper.

Body - Dusty radiator, some travel sweets, more of that ethereal smoke but definitely lacking midrange in the delivery. Some kind of red fruit with time, but I'm searching.

Finish - Better in the finish, the cask fruit joins back in with an oily, peppery ending.

Cannon fodder.

Dailuaine 2004, 13 years old, 46% A-

1 bourbon cask, 432 bottles

DAILUAINE 13 46 432 BOTTLES S/CASKNose - That's more like it, a lot more character here from ever-reliable Dailuaine - strawberry/custard tart with a glass of slightly sour Amontillado sherry and an old leather jacket. Burning coal in a cooperage.

Body - Sour but waxy, liquorice torpedoes and cheap chocolate but again, these 46%ers struggle with the delivery. The mouthfeel does build on the repeated sips though, there's more of that strawberry (dried strawberries I think, maybe strawberry Nesquik).

Finish - Medium and full of sawdust - big tannins at the side of the mouth.

A lot more going on in this one, good fruit and a good drammer, but fans of the square bottles should look elsewhere.

Aultmore 1997, 20 years old, 51.8% A⊕

2 bourbon hogsheads, 450 bottles

AULTMORE 20Nose - Ripe. Crushed flower stalks, strawberry laces and custard powder. Whistle pops. Dunnage warehouse.

Body - Herbal and complete, freshly picked bay leaves with a very pleasing, mouth filling malt character, slightly fizzing. Hard nut toffee.

Finish - Long and woodsy, a really compelling "have another sip" character - tannins and balance. Whiteboard markers and screen cleaner at the end. "In a good way".

Robust and delicious, what works here is the compelling, I can't put the glass down, delivery. I didn't get to add water.

Tullibardine 1993, 24 years old, 43.6% B⊕

444 bottles

TULLIBARDINE 24 43.6 444 BOTTLESNose - Rich with red wine, toasted sourdough bread, cut grass and hard sugarwork. New carpet and a new visitor centre, waxy cask, charcoal (reassuring again). Warmer with water, I'm definitely in the visitor centre now, excited to try some of the whisky.

Body - Green and astringent, runner beans? Then a rich fruit, good cask and cut red cherry.  Quite restrained though, with some minerality. Weaker with water, some cardboard. Damn, the ABV was low to start with though.

Finish - Medium to short, an oily, gentle landing.

Evocative on the nose, bit of a let-down after unfortunately.

Glen Spey, 22 years old, 57.9% A+

2 hogsheads, 438 bottles

GLENSPEY 22Nose - A musky, slightly ethereal character, gentle sweetness with a touch of tobacco, some crushed malt.

Body - Delicious and deep, restraint is a virtue here with good quality chocolate ice cream, crushed blackberries, clotted cream and hot wort.

Finish - Big and bitter (like that wort), quite long too with black cherries and even a little Ribena at the end.

This has quite a lot to give and would probably be an interesting whisky to live with over a whole bottle.

Benrinnes 20 years old, 54%, A⊕+

3 bourbon barrels, 408 bottles [sold out]

BENRINNES 20 S/BNose - Sharp, mineral, crushed wet rock and a proper underlying sweetshop note. Ripe green apple and teenage girl's perfume, in front of really old cask and a hot summer's evening on exhale.

Body - Big, old, tropical and everything you'd want from a Benrinnes, I am amazed this is only 20 though. Extraordinarily ripe with fresh sawdust and salt and pepper. Even better with water, overripe guava and mango chunks with red chilli powder.

Finish - Long, well-structured with an insistent tropicality and an almost cheesy age to it.

An absolute blockbuster, I would have guessed it was distilled in the 70s.

Linkwood 1992, 24 years old, 50.9% A⊕

384 bottles

LINKWOOD 20 53.7 498 BOTTLESNose - Sweet, gentle, again a good wax cask here with cut flower stalks, new magazines and some lightly charred oak (dry, cold). This is elegant where the Benrinnes was blustering. Slightly richer, slightly more chocolatey with water.

Body - Perfectly delivered - soft, fruit toffee at first, felt lined box and a distant fire. Structural woods. Fruitier with water but there's a slightly unsettling bitterness to the wood.

Finish - Long, slightly fizzing with chocolate and fresh cut red chilli.

Another delicious old whisky - as you would expect from Linkwood (and Benrinnes) - more restrained than the Benrinnes and excellent for it.

Cadenhead's Creations, Light Creamy Vanilla, Vatted malt, 1991, 26 years old, 43.8% A+'

228 bottles. Aultmore-Glenlivet, Braes of Glenlivet, Bruichladdich, Glen Grant-Glenlivet, Glenlivet (Minimore), Strathisla and Tamdhu. "This blended malt is from a single cask that was vetted together in 2006" - so it must be a bunch of cask ends or bottles, even, stuck in a single cask for 12 years! A very low ABV for a 26 year old, must be some water or something very old in there too.

CREATIONS 26 43.8 VOL 288 BOTTLE APROXNose - Old but weak (I worry I can't appreciate stuff under 50% anymore, sometimes). There's wax and fruit, there's sweets and icing sugar, there's even a little sesame snaps but it's very quiet.

Body - Actually I think this has just had a few litres of something very understrength and very old added to it. Lots of wax, dusty and slightly cheesy, this is almost peppery and full of understated tropicality.

Finish - Very long and biting at the sides of the mouth. There's a bigger finish than the body, and that's why I think it's been doctored with 30% ancient (forgotten) cask.

I'm probably wrong about all that old cask stuff, and just can't get on with the low ABV, but putting that aside this is superb. It's just too gentle for me. This would be an amazing base for one of your own blends.

Glenrothes 1997, 20 years old, 56.2% A+'

3 butts, 1524 bottles [sold out but with that outturn there must be more somewhere]

GROTHES 20 SHERRY CASKNose - Dark, restrained, waxy with dark roasted coffee and blackcurrant chews. Very clean though, a little bit hard but lots of fruit. Waxier with water, blacker fruit, chocolate malt, milky coffee.

Body - Sharp but very rich, quite hot but real depth of fruit and quite biting oak. Much more speyside with water, lots of chocolate still.

Finish - Long with fizzing black fruit, a touch of liquorice imp.

Super rich and almost chewy to drink, full of blackcurrant chews and oak. Delicious.

Ledaig 1997, 20 years old, 52.8% A+'

[didn't hit the shop]

ledaig 20Nose - Deep, slightly dirty, hind-brain-grabbing peat. Reminds me a bit of Big Peat through a soft filter. There's something in here funking it up though, something like cheesecake (with vanilla), bonfire night (gunpowder and wood smoke) and Hershey's chocolate. Reminds me somehow of a Sauternes cask finish.

Body - Dirty again, very ashen and quite numbing in the delivery. Lopped hedges, orange twists and red wine. More fruit juice with water. Delicious.

Finish - Medium with jelly sweets behind the acrid peat. Liquorice root.

A big, bruising peater, no let up for the 20 years here and no hint of refreshers or anything ghostly. But the presentation is perfect for that - young Ledaig is phenomenal and this is simply a more nuanced version of that.

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