The venerable independent bottler Cadenhead’s is back in the US. Let there be rejoicing. There’s been a general revamp at Cadenhead’s with a new boss and new packaging. I don’t have anything interesting to say about the former, and I am agnostic on the latter. I quite liked the old, green bottles from when Cadenhead’s were last in the US and don’t mind the new dumpy bottles. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t complain about something though so I will say that I wish that the distillation years were on the labels and not on the little thingamajig on a string around the neck (is there a name for that thing?). In stores where these bottles are kept behind glass it’s annoying to have to call someone over just to find out what years particular bottles are from. But this is a minor issue.
The more important thing is that the prices are generally reasonable. I found eight of the Small Batch Collection releases in a store in a Minneapolis suburb and only one (the Caol Ila 22) was above $100. Of course, not all stores selling these are being quite as restrained with the prices but it suggests that they’re not starting out high straight off the boat. I bought all eight bottles to be split among some members of our local tasting group and will be reviewing them in sequence, starting with this Glendullan. After that I will return to my usual diet of largely untimely reviews.
Glendullan has a very large production capacity but most of its product goes into blends. The only official release, in the US, at least, is as Diageo’s “Singleton”. Elsewhere in the world malts from Dufftown and Glen Ord distilleries feature as the “Singleton”. Their single malt is not terribly ubiquitous among indie releases either, with only six releases listed on Whiskybase from even Gordon & Macphail who can normally be counted on to have released scores from almost every distillery. Let’s see what this one is like.
Glendullan 17, 1996 (57.4%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch, bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: Floral and mildly citrussy with mild wood (pine boards). More malt after a bit and more fruit too: grapes, apples, maybe some kiwi. Expanding vanilla too. Water emphasizes the vanilla and now there’s some shortbread as well–the fruit’s all still there too.
Palate: Surprisingly drinkable at full strength. Quite sweet at first and then there’s a muskier, malty note. Some pepper too. On the second and third sip there’s more of the fruit from the nose, and now I’m getting some melon (not quite fully ripe honeydew); more citrus too. Water brings it all together and emphasizes the citrus and pepper, making it brighter.
Finish: Medium. The musky fruit and pepper fade out and the wood reappears, just a little bit spicy. Gets a little briny as it goes.
Comments: A very pleasant and light fruity Speysider. Those looking for fireworks may be disappointed but this is good, solid whisky. Better with water, I think. Okay, must try more Glendullan. Anyone have any reports on the Singleton?
Rating: 85 points.