The only Glencadam I have reviewed so far is also a 21 yo—this from Blackadder. This one is the official 21 yo. I don’t really know much about Glencadam—it’s another of the distilleries whose output I have tasted very little of—and so I can’t really speak to its general profile. I bought a bottle of this 21 yo in the summer of 2012, along with bottles of the 10 and 15 yo. I’d planned to organize a blind tasting of the three but here I am almost four years later and I’m yet to open any of the bottles; this is what happens when you buy too much whisky (this review is of a sample I got from Michael K—who presumably purchased a full bottle at some point: his own review is of a purchased sample. Man, this is a complicated parenthetical aside). I have recently opened another, much older, independent bottling so maybe I’ll get around to doing that vertical at some point soon after all.
In case you don’t know, Glencadam is located in the Highlands region, but it is in the eastern Highlands, further east than the Speyside—of extant distilleries, Glen Garioch, Fettercairn and Lochnagar are in the vicinity too (I may be forgetting another). They’re owned by Angus Dundee Distillers, who also own Tomintoul. At some point they raised the abv of all the official releases to 46%—though there is now at least one NAS release at 40%. This one NAS release aside, they are clearly not letting go of age statements: They’ve recently added an 18 yo to their regular range and also put out a number of teenaged “finished” malts. And they don’t chill-filter or artificially colour their malts. All of this should put them in the good books of whisky geeks who complain about all the distilleries that do otherwise but, as it happens, they generally fly under the radar.
Glencadam 21 (46%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Cider with slightly grassy and chalky overtones; a minerally sweetness too (wet concrete after summer rain). Gets quite acidic as it sits but there’s a musky sweetness building below it (tart-sweet apple, gooseberries). Not a whole lot of change with a small splash of water: maybe a little chalkier?
Palate: Lemon takes the place of cider but otherwise it’s as promised by the nose. On the second sip there’s a big whack of fruit (melon of some kind and some kind of white grape too) and some peppery oak. Nice, thick mouthfeel. Gets more peppery as it goes and not a whole lot more development. Time to add some water. Still quite peppery but a little sweeter too now; and then it gets a bit soapy.
Finish: Medium. The peppery oak is the dominant note here. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Despite geography and what I said earlier, this is bang in a certain northern Highlands style: think Glen Ord or Balblair and also some bourbon cask Clynelish. And it’s good evidence for the argument that it is in this style—away from sherry and peat—that malt whisky’s genuine character can be found. I quite enjoyed it, though not as much as Michael did.
Rating: 86 points.
Thanks to Michael for the sample!