Thursday, 7 March 2019

Cadenhead's Spring 2019 Authentic Collection

I still can’t sensibly publish photos with this thing.  I suspect google may abandon altogether shortly.

Tomatin 9yo (2009) 60.1%: HHD B

Nose - Hard with cold pears, pear drops and vanilla buttercream. That cakiness develops into acrylic paint and strawberry jelly with cream. More fruit, more cream with water, finally some proper cask (shaved, slightly waxed).

Body - Rock hard, slightly burnt, with boiled sweets and yesterday's gloss paint. Much sweeter with water, still burnt and cereal.

Finish - Short with crushed ice, new plastic and a little chocolate muffin. Saccharin sweet with water.

A hard, young, tiring whisky. Maybe I shouldn't have started with it, I don't usually love young Tomatin though.

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14yo (2004) 54.9%: HHD A+

Nose - Much more like it, a deeper feel already, with sour fruit top notes, furniture polish - rose water spilled on a polished table (or maybe Turkish delight). A touch of leather with water.

Body - Ripe and perfumed, but with excellent fizzing wood contrast to the pink rose character. Softly sweet. Drier with water, even more balance.

Finish - Long and overripe again, tea tannins balance perfectly at the end, bringing you back for the next sip.

An extremely well judged whisky. Great structure, that lovely rose character and good fruit, perfume and wood balance.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 16yo (2002) 55.2%: HHD A'

Nose - Boiled sweets, fruit polos? Torn laurel leaves, hot water crust, a little leatherette. Very gentle, quite wine-like though with a touch of the distillery visitors centre.

Body - Off dry, slightly burnt underneath, retronasal salted caramel. Very oiled, quite a classy balance of sugar, wax and cask.

Finish - Long and peppery, fruit oils are building though. Liquorice root at the end.

A subtle and undemanding whisky that builds complexity and black pepper and liquorice as you sip it. Quite rewarding, if unconventional.

Arran 22yo (1996) 49.6%: HHD A-

Nose - It's verging on "big" but the balance is there, it plays around with tropical. There's gentle fruit toffee, a lovely old bourbon cask, proper fruit polos now and a little banana Nesquik.

Body - Unexpected - coffee, cocoa powder, charcoal, sawdust, salted McCoys crisps. A much bigger wood influence than I was expecting and hoping for, much drier and it drowns out the fruit.

Finish - Medium, more Hershey's-like chocolate, with hazelnuts and roasted lemon shells at the end.

I was ready to raise my "important whisky" flag but this swerved it massively in the delivery. The fruit is struggling to emerge from all that wood unfortunately. A shame.

Glenallachie-Glenlivet 26yo (1992) 54.8%: HHD A⊕+

Nose - Another big nose, slightly sweaty this one but lots of baked citrus, some plum and hoppy beer. Deep orchard fruit too - ripe cut green apple and baked Bramleys.

Body - Beautifully soft with candy cigarettes, tropical cask (mango smoothie) and marijuana smoke.

Finish - Medium, creamy and well poised. Some hot chocolate at the end, with a slug of Amarula in it.

This is an important whisky.

Miltonduff 9yo (2009) 62.0%%: Brl (Jamaican Rum Cask since Oct '14) A+'

Nose - More beautiful fruit, with linseed oil, lots of candle wax and acrylic paints. Extremely oily in fact. The rum cask is rather obvious if you're looking for it (over a four year finish), but balances the spirit's fruit and the previous cask very nicely. The result is a big but balanced fruity and petrolly, characterful nose.

Body - Soft but sweet and sour with more wood oils, sherry vinegar and sherbet.

Finish - Short but oily, teases burnt plastic but the tannins and fruits work very well. Fly spray at the end.

I've just realised how young this is, it spent half its age in the rum cask - what a triumph this finish is.

Benriach-Glenlivet 10yo (2008) 56.0%: Madeira Cask (Dec '17) A+

Nose - A step down in intensity from the Miltonduff, I put this after it because of the wine. This has red berries, dried orange and rosemary, orange cream and sprayed furniture polish. It's quite christmassy but a little compressed.

Body - Expressive, oily and creamy. Cadbury's fruit and nut bars, boot polish. Flashes of tobacco.

Finish - Medium, with baked plums and frangipane. Great tannins too.

This turned out to be a soft, extremely toothsome and delicious whisky. Sort of chuggable actually.

Cooley 11yo (1992) 49.5%: Brl A⊕'

11 years old, as apparently you can only age Irish whisky in Ireland - and that's the age it came to Campbeltown.

Nose - Tobacco, then (and this time I'm really serious) the most intense fruit polos. It's so fruity, it's practically nail varnish on top of scented erasers. There's a formic, lacquered base to it though, like air fresheners over rotting fruit. There is, after sipping, an almost crotchy dirtiness to it too.

Body - So dark it's purple, a rotten peat with chocolate icing, blackcurrant starburst after some black jacks.

Finish - Medium to long, with hand soap and blackcurrant jam. Extremely ripe, then dusty chocolate at the end.

Ridiculous whisky, almost pornographic. My burps are now completely tropical.

Benrinnes 21yo (1997) 53.7%: Brl A⊕

I'm having to leave the Benrinnes to the end now as it keeps wrecking my palate\expectations with its tropical fruit and excellence.

Nose - Dusty, elegant cask, the kind of fruit driven, complex and balanced profile I'd expect. More damn fruit polos, posh unisex perfume, Seville orange ice cream.

Body - Ripe with rolling fruits and sugars, more ice cream, pronounced but correctly judged woods.

Finish - Peppery royal icing, liquorice imps and a little charred oak.

Another superb Benrinnes - it's actually a little less intense than some of the last few but restraint isn't a bad thing. The fruit is down a notch, the wood is up one.

Ardbeg 25yo (1993) 51.6%: HHD A+

Nose - Ghostly, dusty, sweet but breaded with sweet liquorice, blackcurrant tunes, E45 cream and mint matchmakers.

Body - Creamy but almost gone, dried sawdust and Vimto, a little cardboard. It really, really reminds me of cutting hedges, and burning them on a rainy day.

Finish - Peppered steak, maybe beef crisps. More mint chocolate, and hot wort.

I don't know why this feels so ancient, when its 51.6% and only 25 years old, but it does. The peat is 35+ year old Caol Ila level. I really like the bold, peppery character behind it, and this is very good (particularly the nose) but the delivery is a little too vegetal and damp to be luxurious. Having said that, to be that evocative is no mean feat and only the most haunting whiskies manage it.

Ardmore 8yo (2010) 54.2%: Sherry HHD (since Aug '17) A-

Nose - Ripe and waxed, with fountain pen ink and more chocolate cupcakes. Sandalwood.

Body - Sweet but sharp with chocolate milk and joss sticks. Lacking midrange.

Finish - Peppery with splints and cigar tobacco.

A little unfair to have this now but… a decent whisky if a little heavy on the sandalwood and chocolate.

The English Whisky Company 8yo (2010) 64.9%: HHD A+

Nose - Swimming pool, complex cask, sea shells and planed oak. The contrast between the sea and the oak is perfect.

Body - Reminds me of Kilchoman 100% Islay, with its cereal, lemon sherbet and nicely judged pastry peat.

Finish - Long with peppery peat, burnt wood.

By the numbers excellence from English Whisky, again.