Glencadam 37, 1974 (Whisky-Fässle)

Glencadam 37, 1974
I recently reviewed the official Glencadam 21. Here now is a much older Glencadam from the German bottler Whisky-Fässle. I purchased it in 2012, which may have been the last year that it was easy to get older bottles, especially from 1970s distillate, for reasonable prices from the independents. These days teenaged Laphroaigs are going for close to $200, and probably for more (oh yes, quite a bit more: I just saw a 18 yo Laphroaig 1990 listed for 230 Euros!) It is for this reason that I’ve been slow to open the not very many older bottles I have left—it’s all but impossible now to find any now at non-extortionate prices. This is from a refill sherry cask and its strength has dropped naturally in the cask to just over the minimum 40% required for whisky. I’ve had a number of similarly low strength malts from similarly aged whiskies from this era that have displayed wonderful fruity characteristics (see this G&M Longmorn 40, 1971) and so I was expecting this to be very good when I did open it. 

That happened this May when I took this Glencadam (and a Glen Grant of similar age/vintage, review coming soon) to my local group’s annual “premium” tasting. Unfortunately, this tasting happened right when my nose and palate were knocked out and so I was not able to partake myself at the tasting. As it happens, this did not do well at all that evening, and some of the people in attendance gave it very low scores (everyone but me drinks blind). I was a bit nonplussed by this as it has received fairly good reviews from reputable sources and so was looking forward to trying it once my nose and palate were back in fighting form. And lo and behold when I did I really liked it too. It’s possible that it opened up in the bottle with a few weeks of air; I do also suspect that its delicate charms may have been harder to suss out in a loud and crowded tasting. Anyway, if you’ve had it before too please chime in below.

Glencadam 37, 1974-2011 (41.5%; Whisky-Fässle; refill sherry; from my own bottle)

Nose: A delicate version of the combination of fruit cocktail (peach, a bit of pineapple and overripe banana) and the tin it came in that you often get in older malts from this era; plus some camphor and vanilla. The fruit gets more intense as it sits, while still remaining delicate on the whole (if such a thing is possible). A long time and a drop of water later the vanilla expands and it’s maltier too now; water also knocks the metallic note back.

Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose but not in the same order: starts out sweeter here and then come the metallic note and then the fruit. Gets spicier as I swallow, though not very spicy. On the second sip there’s quite a bit of citrus (lemon). The mouthfeel isn’t terribly rich but it’s not as thin as you might expect at this abv either. The wood gets a little more talkative as it sits but never too overbearing. With a lot more time the fruit is joined by some floral notes. Not much of interest happens with water.

Finish: Medium. The fruit and the spice (mostly mild oaky notes) tingle together as they fade. Spicier and less fruity with water.

Comments: Very nice indeed. The metallic note here is different from the sharper version I often note and decry in grassier malts. This seems to develop more in older malts that have seen their strength drop dramatically in the cask—I may well be wrong about this so if there is a more established explanation please do share below. Anyway, this is really quite lovely and I should have saved it all for myself and brought something a little less subtle to the tasting. Well, I’m drinking the rest of this alone!

Rating: 88 points.

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