This Caperdonich was bottled for K&L in California by Hunter Hamilton under their Sovereign label. Hunter Hamilton in turn is one of the many Laing outfits, I believe. All the Caperdonichs I’ve had have been very old and from the halcyon period from the late 60s to the early 70s so I am curious to see what this middle-aged one from 1994 is like. You don’t really hear too much about Caperdonich from the 1980s and 1990s.
And Caperdonich is really not a well-known name, in general, outside whisky geek circles. This bottle started out north of $100 at K&L and eventually got discounted down to the mid-$70s. Hard luck for those who bought it at the original price but so it goes, I suppose. Anyway, now that the distillery is closed down for good it might well be that there’s a lot of stock from its later period as well that might get to mature to a ripe old age as the older stock did through the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Caperdonich 18, 1994 (58.4%; Hunter Hamilton; from my own bottle)
The label does not specify but this is pretty obviously from an ex-bourbon cask.
Nose: Toasted wood with some spicy overtones; apple and apple peels, a mild grassiness. Gets acidic after a bit with a touch of lime peel. So far, so blah. Should get better with water (I hope). With water the citrus gets much amplified and there’s also now greater vanilla, a cidery note and some pepper.
Palate: Hmmm this is better than promised by the nose: malty sweetness and vanilla and some citrussy notes that verge on the musky. Apple here too but it’s baked/stewed apple. Hot but still quite drinkable at full strength with a soft texture after the initial bite. Okay, let’s add water. Yes, water tames the bite and brings the fruit out more strongly. The apple recedes and instead it’s a mix of citrus (lemon, kaffir lime plus peel) and honey. The malt and vanilla are still around too. With time the pepper intensifies, the baked apple returns and there’s more toasted wood now too.
Finish: Surprisingly short. Water extends the finish with the malt and vanilla hanging on longest. A little bit of cocoa powder later and some hints of tropical fruit on the sides of my tongue well after the last swallow.
Comments: Didn’t start out very promisingly on the nose, but time and water really made it much more interesting. I could see another 10-12 years in oak doing really wonderful stuff to this spirit. As it is, I think the discounted price is the right price for what this is–though I will be interested to come back to it later in the life of the bottle as well; I’m most intrigued to see if the teasing tropical fruit that develops late on the finish will intensify.
Rating: 85 points.
Another 1990s Caperdonich up tomorrow, this one younger and heavily peated.