Thursday, 5 July 2018

Cadenhead’s Small Batch June 2018

Speyburn 9 years old, 55.6% A+

2x hogsheads, 540 bottles.

speyburnNose - Overripe fruit, wax, nutty (and not a little dirty) sherry cask with Refreshers (or maybe Fizzers) over new plastic book covering with green apple and oranges. Brilliant. Earthier with water, more plasticky.

Body - Bright, sweet and white, with a balancing minerality. Orange peel at the back of the delivery. Some liquorice root with water.

Finish - Very sweet, cloying almost with that same mineral, woodsy feel to it. Quite long.

A cracking whisky. Too sweet at first in the finish, but it grew on me.

Glenallachie 1992, 25 years old, 56% A+

2x hogsheads

glenallachieNose - Bright, fresh and full of green apple. There's a deep sweetness underneath it but the fruit is wonderful. Strawberry laces, custard creams… Maybe it's a French strawberry tart actually, it's a little more genuine. It has a lovely, almost triple distilled character.

Body - A slightly burnt sweetness, salted caramels and Oreo cookie (sweet and acrid at the same time). Cough candy. Intensely sweet but very compelling.

Finish - Quite long but drying and oily, particularly on the tip of the tongue, where it's like licking lipstick.

A whisky full of character and structure, perhaps a little sweet again for me but packed full of flavour.

Glenturret 1986, 31 years old, 44.5% A⊖

glenturretNose - Massive, old and minty with bright, almost cognac-like fruit and wax. Yesterday's gloss paint, extremely ripe but not recognisably Scotch to me. Well - there's flashes of it, but it's like it underwent some kind of scientific forced maturation (or was accidentally left in a tropical country for a few years).

Body - Sweet and cakey, chocolate sponge with cherry chocolate icing. A brief delivery before the finish.

Finish - Tannic with Battenberg cake… maybe Black Forest Gateaux. Very long but over the hill.

I had to double check my sample on this one, it doesn't fit with the whisky I tried at Campbeltown. But this is definitely from the bottle. This is, at first blush, very good, first blush being all I could manage I guess by day 3 of festival. But it doesn't hold up to close scrutiny, which makes me worried for the two bottles of Jenna's choice I bought!

The nose is genuinely good though, if unexpected.

Auchentoshan 1999, 19 years old, 52.9% A⊕

1x HHD, 1x Chateaux Lafite cask.

toshanNose - Restrained, waxy, peachy, vanilla'd sweetness, red and full of clay and lipstick, just as I'd hoped. Exotic building materials (think two-part epoxy, floor adhesive), glossy photo books. Tropical, but when you're somewhere genuinely tropical.  Not when you're in Scotland drinking tropical pop out of a can.

Body - Bright and fruity but nutty and satisfyingly dry, this is why I love the Auchentoshan Lafitte. Hazelnuts, birthday candles and Pacers.

Finish - Medium with cut nectarine and red apple, quite spicy (slightly unexpectedly) but then this coachload of pure Auchentoshan at the end.

Hooray! When expectations are perfectly met.

Caol Ila 1984, 34 years old, 57.6% A⊕+

How do they make them so strong so old?

caol ilaNose - Dry, dusty Islay perfection on the nose, with old dunnage, charred wood, polished bars with tacky instant coffee dried on them and baked plums with cumin. This smells like that most (to me).. (at the moment) evocative thing, the unobtainable malts you sometimes get out of unofficial bottles. It smells ancient, but it's 57.6%.

Body - Light but huge, like cheap vanilla ice cream melting over yesterday's charcoal. Effortlessly sweet and balanced, utterly drinkable.

Finish - Long and very ashen, peppery spices. A touch of plastic and swimming pool at the end, in a pleasant, fruity way. Green peppercorns at the end.

Very special indeed, you couldn't ask for a more characterful but ancient Islay. I had old Bunnas of this calibre up until a couple of years ago but you only seem to get it with Caol Ila now.

Fettercairn 2008, 9 years old, 57.8% A-

2x hogsheads, 564 bottles

fettercairnNose - Fresh, floral, waxy, casky. Fruit salad sweets with strawberry laces and lipstick, but backed off to that complex, grown up cask, and a touch of Sangria. Hot summer whisky.

Body - Baked apples and cigarettes, some caramel, chocolate digestives. That robust structure against the fresh bourbon cask is well balanced but the initial arrival is a little harsh (astringent, young).

Finish - Cigar tobacco and charred chocolate cookies.

A good drammer for a social gathering on a balcony in the height of Summer. The conversation would gloss over the slightly harsh arrival.

Benriach 2008, 10 years old, 58.9% A+

2x hogsheads, 564 bottles

benriachNose - Deep, sweet, but dusty and winey. New carpet and new paint on the walls, lots of polished furniture. A little juniper and just a touch of Campbeltown oil.

Body - Remarkable, this is full of Campbeltown funk and I would have said refill sherry cask if I didn't know better. Burnt candle wax and Germolene. Big, burnt, ripe fruits.

Finish - Long and hot, chemically hot. Burnt capacitors and bitter liquorice.

A completely unexpected direction from this one, it must have sat next to a Longrow for 10 years or something. Remarkable.

Auchroisk 2006, 12 years old, 46% B+

2x hogsheads, 690 bottles

auchroiskNose - Light, cold and crisp. Apple fritters and vanilla ice cream, a little cut hedge… maybe rosemary. It's very light though.

Body - Beautifully gentle, dusty, and off-dry in the delivery, that waxy Lovehearts note is very welcome and an echo of the 18 year old OB Springbank.

Finish - Short, with that waxy, dusty cask and a fizzing hint of apple chews. Some bitterness at the very end.

A light, fresh, dry whisky. I would probably reach for a young Cognac before this, but it has its place.

Cambus 1988, 29 years old, 45.4% A

Single cask

cambusNose - Very grown up this one, balanced and elegant with apple wood chunks, candy cigarettes, sawdust and candied angelica. Kola cubes (remember they don't taste of cola).

Body - Soft, delicate and creamy. Apple Danish (but crusted with sugar).

Finish - Icing sugar and cut wood again, quite bitter in a gentle way, quite short though.

If I was ever allowed to call a whisky "smooth" it would have to be this one. It's so smooth it's almost disappearing.

Creations 2007 10 years old, Light, Creamy, Vanilla Batch 4, Blended Grain, 59.2% A+

2:1 Girvan to Strathclyde, married in 2 bourbon barrels for 1 year.

creationsNose - Light and woody, with coffee granules and last year's "new" carpet. The fruit in here is a little strained, like canned cherry and cranberries, but that haberdashery note is what it's all about.

Body - Beautifully creamy, really rich and full bodied, most unexpected. This has the poise of a much older vatted grain, reminds me of a Compass Box special edition Hedonism. There's a wonderful creamy fruit, like a blackcurrant fool in here. Delicious.

Finish - Medium with burnt toast and lots of hard oak, the young grain returns.

A superb delivery on this blend. The top and tail match the age and the price but the delivery is just fantastic.

Loch Lomond 21 years old, 52.5% A⊕

2x bourbon barrels

loch lomondNose - More apples - apple and blackberry crumble with proper caramel seeping through the crumble, and some of that smoke from the distillery - who knows which of the peating levels this is. The waxy, peaty, caramel character reminds me a little of Highland Park.

Body - Sweet but supple, gets around its sweetness with wood and peat. Perfect drinking though, great distillery.

Finish - Long and fizzing, quite a lot of pepper and oak at the end, some hot dog.

Some holes in the middle of this but the whisky is very compelling and shows that really rich, creamy, intense but balanced peat that Croftengea has.

An Islay 2007, 9 years old, 54.9% A+

1 bourbon barrel, 1 sherry hogshead

an islaNose - Dark red. The sherry is perfectly balanced by the rest of it (Islay and bourbon), with hot coffee beans, sunflower seeds, clove chocolate and charred crustaceans. A really beautiful and expectation setting nose.

Body - Soft then big, insecty and weird. Like acrylic paint and medicine made from natural stuff. And the hot dogs I might still be tasting from the Loch Lomond. With time that sherry balance reasserts, and it becomes richer, chocolatier.

Finish - Long and bracingly peated, cranberries and dark chocolate. Ashtray at the end.

A proper, young, balanced-sherry whisky. Its quality reminds me of those TWE Ledaigs from 3 years ago, but the character is entirely different. I've heard it might not be Lagavulin, I would agree with that. I've heard it could be Ardbeg (feasible), but I would have guessed Bunnahabhain (although I am terrible at guess the distillery).