Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Cadenhead's September 2018 (Autumn Batch 1) outturn

This is a long time coming, but I was delayed by The Whisky Show and a cheeky little trip to Campbeltown. 


Guyana 2002, 15 years old, 46% A-

GUY%2015%2046%20VOL%20-750x1000Nose - Sweet, bright, floral, pleasantly wooded. Royal icing and lemon buttercream, really quite Scotchy to be honest. Good warm wax against the cold sugars.

Body - Very soft, peachy and floral. Very light liquorice on the tip of the tongue. A subtle creaminess.

Finish - Short but fruity with a little pepper and (finally) a touch of rummy funk.

An extremely gentle rum, but considerate and well balanced. Not particularly rummy though!

Nicaragua 1999, 19 years old, 46% A

Nicaraguan%2019%2046%20VOL%20-750x1000Nose - Deeper, waxier and a little anty. It's (despite being gentle) as cask dominated as the Guyana, but the nose is much more alive with gunpowder, lemon curd and lipstick.

Body - Clean but more intense than the Guyana, soft fruit and subtle peppery spice at the side of the tongue. Fruit and sugar, orange curd.

Finish - Quite long and drying, with surprisingly firm tannins, a touch of spice but well balanced throughout.

A step up in terms of depth and interest, this is a lovely, soft mature spirit and very sippable.

Barbados Foursquare 2006, 12 years old, 58.5% A

4%20Sq%20Rum%2012-750x1000Nose - Complex woods and wax again here, with a flinty, burnt lemon top note. Deeper waxes with time, and handsoap.

Body - Bright and orangey with subtle spices and a firm black pepper on the tip of the tongue. Quite a lot of depth behind it, soft toffee and gentle petrol. Deliciously rich.

Finish - Medium with iron filings and fizzing, bold esters at the end.

Hard to find fault with this but it's not setting my world on fire.

Guyana 1999, 18 years old, Uitvlugt, 58.7% A+

Utiv%20Guy%2018%20-750x1000Nose - 3-dimensional compared to the previous three - brightly dank and funky with cut flower stalks, Savoiardi biscuits, freshly cracked black pepper and a punch in the nose. A fresh bunch of flowers from the supermarket.

Body - Big, bright and bold again, well balanced and delicious to drink though, with an almondy, cakey back note.

Finish - Medium to long with chewed pencil, rice paper and trebor softmints.

A remarkable thing to drink, earthy but floral, bright but medicinal, chalky and fresh. Well recommended but it is a conversation stopper!

Belize 2007, 11 years old, Travellers, 64.6% A+

Belize%2011%20-750x1000Nose - Dark and flinty, like a young sherry cask that's more about colour than complexity. But then there is a richness here; chocolate cake and pipe tobacco, a musky depth made by sugar and time in wood.

Body - Deep and winey, liquorice and Seville orange.

Finish - Long with big, charred woods and burnt orange.

This is really quite good. It reminds me of one of those ill advised SMWS finishes (you know, refill bourbon for 11 years, then an un-advertised 6 months in virgin oak and a final panic 3 months in PX) that somehow just about works. This isn't quite as good as the Uitvlugt but you could drink it more peacefully.

Trinidad 1997, 20 years old, Caroni, 60.6% A+

Caroni%2020%20-750x1000Nose - Dark and waxy with burnt paper and dirty esters - plus charred meat and engine oil. Reminds me of a cold, urban music event - 3am with burgers and generators, and diesel fumes next door. There is, however, a nice fruit pulling this together (which is what happens in wood and in Campbeltown) but I am slightly scared for the delivery.

Body - Intensely lacquered, black polished wood and beetle shells. Caramelised apple and new engine oil with water, charred raisins.

Finish - Old, bandaged wounds and liquorice. Burnt, wet wood with water.

A dirty but complicated beast. I did enjoy drinking it but I would never pull the cork on an open bottle at home.


Benriach 2008 10 years old, 56.5% B+

276 bottles

Benriach%2010%20276%20bottles%2056.5%20-750x1000Nose - Sour, then sweet, like an overripe lemon. Waxy and oddly meaty after that, with cardboard, very distinct warm white wine and a quite light but enjoyable cask musk. Almost a rosé wine with water.

Body - Waxy and vegetal, cut cucumber peel and juniper (I'll probably find out this was a mis-labelled gin later). A big, mouthcoating, citrus/pepper/fence panel bruiser in some ways but it's also restrained in some ways too, it kind of works. Richer and more complex with water.

Finish - Medium short and quite peppery, very tannic in the mouth afterwards.

Austere but no-nonsense, it works well as a tasting/sipping whisky. You would have to be very zen to come back to it many sessions in a row, though.

Speyside 1994 23 years old, 50.9% A⊕+

210 bottles

SPEYSIDE%2023%20210%20bottles%20-750x1000Nose - Elegant fruit and wood immediately, there's touches of pink wafer biscuit, gastrique and cut flower stalks, with dried orange peel and cheap squash. Extremely promising.

Body - A huge fruit arrival, creamy, luxuriant and lush, then a deft turn into toffee, wood tannins, then tropical fruit and burnt pastry. A touch of liquorice with water.

Finish - Long but tannic, entirely justified by flashes of tropicality and stewed tea.

This feels very old school to me, a glorious nose, with a delivery that's luxurious but challenging at the same time. This would be perfect tasted in a dunnage warehouse.

Tamnavulin 1992, 26 years old, 51.3% A-

234 bottles

TAMNAVULIN%2026%2051.3VOL%20234%20-750x1000Nose - More wax, but thinner, with washing up liquid and felt box (perhaps sandalwood). There's an insistent vanilla and orange or lemon curd underneath that. A little burnt, nutty and vinegary perhaps. Toast and butter with water.

Body - Sweet and poised between nuts and fruit in the front of the delivery, burnt wine at the back. An absolutely lovely delivery, better than the nose. Icing sugar with water.

Finish - Long with fruits at the side of the tongue and wood waxes and tannins at the back. Chewed liquorice root at the end, and this is accentuated with water.

An interesting whisky, looking really good on paper, but stumbles with integration and falls apart with water.

Aultmore 1997, 21 years old, 52.1% A+

234 bottles

Aultmore%2021%2052.1%20-750x1000Nose - Chalky, minty with light but sweetshoppy fruit - powdered orange drink - and powdered peanut butter. Boiled sweets with time, somewhere between travel sweets and pineapple cubes. Just a touch of brown sauce. It is very light but it does sort of remind me of "the old days" (5 years ago).

Body - Big fruit, then mouthfilling mallow, sour plums and liquorice tannins. Liquorice rizlas and cherry tunes. Foam prawn sweets with water, and green peppercorns.

Finish - Big, meaty and musky with barley sugar, juicy fruit chewing gum and blackcurrant boiled sweets at the end. A very long finish, mouth puckering tannins alongside the fruit.

Unexpected; I was expecting luxury but got this fruit and sour rollercoaster. It's very good, but definitely tiring.

Tomatin 2008, 10 years old, 53% A⊕

168 bottles

Tomatin%2010%2053%20VOL%20168%20bottles%20-750x1000Nose - Unmistakable young Tomatin. Hard and waxy, with pepper, acrylic and candied peel and that touch of petrol. Deeper and fruitier with water, jelly snakes.

Body - Perfect delivery for this character of whisky; sweet and creamy, quite intense but not overdone. Beautifully sweet with floral and creamy notes and a very oily mouthfeel. A touch dirtier with water.

Finish - Liquorice all-sorts, rose petals and an unexpected fecundity at the end of the delivery.

A cracking whisky, just the kind of refill-bourbon cask to pour yourself into a bottle of.

Tullibardine 1993, 25 years old, 40.7% A⊕+

222 bottles

TULLIBARDINE%2025%2040.7%20VOL%20222%20-750x1000Nose - In this outturn of elderly refill bourbon, this one is older and dirtier than the others. Sweet acrylic, new oil paints and chocolate covered brazil nuts. There's a tropical depth beneath it, under the freshly sanded oak planks and varnish.

Body - Wow - extremely soft, sweet and ripe - dirty, almost cheesy maturity, orange juice and lots of wood and paint. Feels 40.

Finish - Medium, cream cheese with marmalade and soft, burnt pastry. Long fruits though, lots of balanced but intense wood tannins.

Plucked before it kicked the bucket, this whisky wears its painfully low ABV extremely well and tastes much older than 25.

Glenburgie 1992, 26 years old, 50.2% B⊕

216 bottles

Glenburgie%2026%2050.2%20216%20bottles%20-750x1000Nose - A climb-down from the Tullibardine, this is much more ordinary (tough act to follow). Warm white wine, soft toffee and cut rosemary stalk. A touch butyric. Powdery with water, caviar on blinis.

Body - Chalky with peppery woods, then quite intensely sharp and sour, and oddly savoury - perhaps turmeric and walnuts. Much richer with water, but with this odd new-makey character (hard, dirty barley, catch at the back of the throat) to it.

Finish - A long, rich finish with wet whiteboard markers, cranberry sauce and blackcurrant jam.

Weird. Not a fan, but there are some great points in here.

Fettercairn 1988, 29 years old, 54.9% A⊕

252 bottles

Fettercairn%2029%2054.9%20252%20bottles%20-750x1000Nose - Rich, short pastry, baked apples and flaked almonds, custard and a toffee sauce. Beautiful woods behind that, structural and luxurious, with waxes, strawberry lip gloss and strawberry leaves.

Body - Like the Tullibardine, this is collecting its pension but it's much more spritely - quite a spritzy, unexpected burst of orange zest and juice, then a slow descent into grapefruit, squash, Sichuan peppercorns and then the wood.

Finish - Very long, balanced wood, fruit, lots of pepper.

This is a big, bold, beautiful whisky. The only thing that pulls it back from the top mark is that the delivery is a little too intense or brash. I love the fruit, wood and excitement with the huge maturity though, and the almost infinite finish.

Glen Scotia 1992, 26 years old, 47.3% A⊕

228 bottles

Glenscotia%2026%20228%20bottles%20%2047.3-750x1000Nose - Creamy, nutty, oily and absolutely Campbeltown. It must be in the water, Springbank and Glen Scotia share the same supply. Or maybe it's in the air. This has that dusty maturity that comes so easily there, hints of diesel, engine oil and blackcurrant travel sweets.

Body - Ripe and rich, then brightly peppery and astringent. Black fruits and boiled sweets, blackjacks.

Finish - Long with blackcurrant jam and blood orange.

Superb. Full of black fruit and Campbeltown goodness.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Cadenhead Club - Campbeltown tasting

This year, the night before the Campbeltown festival, they held the first tasting to pick the next Cadenhead’s club bottling.  I couldn’t go to this, I couldn’t take another day off work and away from home, but Ronnie, bless him, saved me the dregs from around his table (I think!) so I could taste them.  Now that the new club bottling has been announced (a 25 year old Glen Grant, the last whisky in the tasting), it reminded me that I’d made notes for these!


These were tasted blind at the tasting and I tasted them blind too – my guesses are given inline (and 100% wrong as usual).  I had a video of the “reveal” to get the answers from and I’ve found it a little hard to hear the results over the sound of a large number of cheering, clapping, middle aged men at the tasting (why are they cheering?) – also Jenna’s accent is hard to decipher for me over the noise too – so some of the details might be wrong.  Please correct me [EDIT: thank you Ozgur Ozlen for providing the full details!]


1 Inchmurrin 21 years old, 1996, 53.1% A-

Hhd, cask 4574, 17 December 1996

Nose - Warming and woodsy with lots of midrange. Lovely waxes, quite dusty but a little cereal sour with it. Apple chews, white marshmallow and some perfume.

Body - Softly fruited at first, then a spike of slightly harder spirit, some cardboard, then a first fill bourbon saccharin sweetness.

Finish - Medium, with pink peppercorns and sesame prawn toast.

A lovely nose here, really floral and inviting. Clumsy sweetness in the delivery.

Guessing Speyburn 11, FF bourbon.

2 Speyside 26 years old, 50.1% A'

Hhd, cask 51, 16 September 1991

Nose - Medium sweet, rich and nutty; warm caramel with peanut brittle. Newly painted furniture and treacle tart.

Body - Soft with Mexican chocolate and a Pomander. Walnut whip.

Finish - Long and sweet with caraway and lemsip. The midrange falls away quite quickly leaving fruit and caramel.

Rich, sweet and satisfying (particularly on the nose) but slightly unbalanced in the delivery.

Guessing Glenrothes 19, refill sherry.

3 Littlemill 27 years old, 52.1% A

Hhd, cask 3040, 16th October 1990

Nose - Big and malic, brown apple juice with brown sugar and cherry pipe tobacco. Mr Kipling chocolate cupcakes.

Body - French browned pastry with burnt sugar and pop tarts. Some petrol, some tobacco.

Finish - Long and musky, with slightly charred raisins and plum crumble.

Sweet and waxy, slightly winey but great waxes.

Who knows, I will guess it's FF bourbon and 13. Miltonduff.

4 Tullibardine 24 years old, 46.1% A⊕'

Hhd, cask 1868, 8th June 1993

Nose - Ripe with Sauvignon Blanc and brie, biscuits and grapes. A beautifully balanced and considered character, perfect spirit against the cask. Candle wax and oat cakes.

Body - Soft and dusty with buttercream, acrylic varnish and black pepper.

Finish - Long with more buttercream icing and muhkwas, quite astringent and a little cheesy.

I like this - it feels weird and old, it has gravitas. I know there is a Littlemill in here that everyone didn't pick, so I'm going to guess that, 27 years old. Bourbon cask.

5 Glenrothes 21 years old, 55.8% A⊕

Butt, cask 22, 21st October 1996 

Nose - Dank and herbal, tack dry gloss paint with chocolate and Sangria. A beautifully sweet red wine cask feel here, very deep, sweet and waxy. Either that or its Indian.

Body - Sweet and formic, bitter woods, very ripe with tarte tatin. Baked plums and black pepper.

Finish - Long with black pepper and marzipan. Very moreish.

I love this. I am doubtful that Cadenhead's would pick an Indian whisky as a club bottling so I'm going to discount the Indian thing, so I will guess 21 year old Glenfarclas, sherry cask (long finish). I'd buy it.

6 Glen Grant 24 years old, 52.4% sherry hogshead since June 2016, A+'

Cask 15/249-1, 13th October 1993

Nose - This is an old sherry cask too. Old cracked gloss paint, library and blue cheese. Very rich with leather jacket and men's perfume, but slightly herbal (fresh rosemary, thyme).

Body - Cherry Ripe bars, milk tart and condensed milk. Absolutely delicious.

Finish - Medium long with milk bottle sweets and cherry compote.

A big, sweet, creamy and fruity whisky, but balanced by wood and a big spirit. I'm guessing Blair Athol 28, sherry cask.