Let’s bring this week of reviews of bourbon hogsheads bottled by Cadenhead to a close. The week started with a Glenburgie and continued with a Glentauchers. Both were bright, summery malts. For the last review, I have a non-Glen and non-Speyside distillery: Blair Athol. This is a 12 yo distilled in 2009. The last Blair Athol I reviewed was also a 12 yo distilled in 2009, and was at a very similar strength as this one—but that was a sherry butt. I liked that one but it stopped well short of excellence. Let’s see where this less adorned bourbon cask falls.
Blair Athol 12, 2009 (59.8%; Cadenhead; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Fizzy lemon; that nutty note I often get in Blair Athol; baked apples; malt; a bit of damp oak. Continues in this vein for a while. With more time and air the acid backs off a little and lets more of the musky notes through—a floral note too now, or is that peach? With a few drops of water the acid recedes further; the nutty note and the damp oak are gone too. Continue reading →
Tuesday is usually Twin Cities restaurant review day on the blog, but this week’s review—of a recent dinner at Petite Leon—will be posted not today, but tomorrow. It’s the end of the term and I’ve been too busy catching up with everything I need to get done to have time to resize the photographs from the meal. That review will be posted tomorrow, after I finish all my current grading today (and then a fresh wave of papers will come in over the weekend). In the meantime, you can go read my previous review of dinner at Petite Leon, or just read the second in this week’s reviews of bourbon casks bottled by Cadenhead.
Monday’s whisky was from Glenburgie. Today’s whisky is also from a Speyside distillery, and one that is even less vaunted than Glenburgie: Glentauchers. I really liked the last Glentauchers I reviewed, but that was almost twice the age of this one, and from a sherry cask. All the other Glentauchers I’ve reviewed have been from bourbon casks—and while none reached the heights of that 27 yo, none disappointed. And so I am hopeful that will at least be good. Let’s see. Continue reading →
There’s been a fair bit of peat and sherry in my whisky reviews this month. And so it’s only fitting that I close out the month, and start the next, with a complete lack of peat and sherry. This week’s reviews will all be of bourbon cask whiskies. All were bottled by Cadenhead, all from bourbon hogsheads. First up, a 14 yo Glenburgie.
Glenburgie 14, 2004 (53.6%; Cadenhead; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Bright fruity notes off the top (lemon, apple, pear) with some toasted oak and some icing sugar. On the second sniff the fruit is already muskier and there’s some plum and nectarine in there too. Continues in this general vein with the oak getting a little pricklier with time. With more time there’s some cereals as well. With a few drops of water there’s quite a bit of malt and some pastry crust (with baked apples behind). Continue reading →
Alright, let’s bring this week of peated whiskies to an end. We started on Islay with a 6 yo Bunnahabhain and continued in Campbeltown with a Kilkerran that is probably not very much older than that Bunnahbhain. We’ll end now with a Ledaig that is positively ancient by comparison, at 14 years old. Even though Ledaig is distilled on the Isle of Mull (it is, of course, essentially peated Tobermory), in a sense we’re still in Campbeltown for this review. This because this sample comes from a bottle purchased at Cadenhead’s Warehouse Tasting in Campbeltown, late last fall. I have not been to Campbeltown myself. I very much hope to go if I make it back to Scotland anytime soon—and if I do, the Cadenhead Warehouse Tasting will be high on my list of things to do. That will be true, by the way, even if this Ledaig disappoints. Though I don’t expect it will.
Here to close out the week, the month and the year in whisky reviews on my blog is a Glenburgie. It is 21 years old and was bottled in 2014 for Cadenhead’s whisky club in Europe from a single sherry cask. In case you’re wondering, I purchased it at auction some years ago. As you may recall, this week is a week of sherried whiskies. It got off to a very good start on Monday with an 18 yo Ben Nevis. The Glen Elgin 16 I reviewed on Wednesday was also good but not quite at the level of the Ben Nevis. This Glenburgie, I know, is very good indeed—I opened it a few weeks ago. Indeed, when first opened I liked it more than I had the Ben Nevis when it was first opened. But now it’s sat with a bit of air in the bottle and I’m curious to see how it’s developed. My experience with Glenburgie is not very extensive and is largely centered on bourbon casks. It’s a distillate that can be very fruity indeed and there was certainly a lot of fruit in the first few pours from this bottle. Has that fruit expanded further? Let’s see. Continue reading →
Here is the third of three Arran reviews for the week. The first two were official distillery releases: the Quarter Cask/The Bothy Batch 3, which is part of the distillery’s current range; and the 2018 release of the 14 yo, which has apparently since been discontinued. Today’s whisky is an independent release, a single bourbon hogshead bottled by Cadenhead in 2017. Somewhat unusually it seems to have been bottled for the American market. Coincidentally, there was also a distillery bottled 17 yo sherry cask from the 1999 vintage that was bottled for the Japanese market. But that is neither here nor there.
I liked the 14 yo quite a bit more than the NAS Quarter Cask. Will I like this 17 yo even more? Let’s see.
Arran 17, 1999 (55.2%; Cadenhead; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Lemon and toasted oak to start. On the second sniff there’s malt and some toffee. The toffee expands as it sits and the fruit transitions from lemon to apricot (baked rather than fresh or jammy). Some wood glue in here too now. Sweeter with water but otherwise in the same vein. Continue reading →
So far this month my whisky review themes have been the following: Craigellachie (here, here and here); sherry casks bottled by Old Particular for K&L (here, here and here); and heavily peated Islay whiskies (here, here and here). Let’s now end the month with reviews of some more delicate Speysiders. First up is a 16 yo Braes of Glenlivet (the throwback name for Braeval) bottled by Cadenhead in 2013. It was released in their “Small Batch” series. But as the outturn was 270 bottles and the cask type is specified as bourbon hogshead, it seems safe to assume this was a single cask release. I bought this at the same time as I did this Dufftown 26 (also from Cadenhead) and this Unnamed Orkney 14 (bottled by Signatory) and also a G&M Caol Ila trio I have not yet reviewed. All were purchased with a consortium of friends. I kept half of each botle and they split the rest. I’ve been drinking and enjoying this for the last two months and here finally are my tasting notes. Continue reading →
Craigellachie week did not get off to the strongest start on Monday. The official 13 yo did not make me regret failing to try it in the near decade that it’s been out (though I suppose it may have improved a lot since the 2017 release, which is what I reviewed). Today I have a review of another 13 yo but this one is an indie release. It’s a single bourbon hogshead, and an ex-peated one at that. I do not know which distillery was the source of the peated cask; I don’t believe Bacardi—the owners of Craigellachie—have any other distilleries in their portfolio that traditionally produce peated malt (though one of the them may put out a peated variant). I suppose it’s also possible that the source of the cask may have been the bottler, Cadenhead—but that’s all speculation. If you have any ideas/knowledge on this score, please do share below. I can tell you it was distilled in 2007 and that the Cadenhead name is usually a good thing. Will it put Craigellachie week back on track? I can only hope so. Continue reading →
As the last review for May was of a 20+ yo Speyside malt, I might as well begin June with a review of another 20+ yo Speyside malt. This one too is from an unglamorous distillery, Dufftown and at 26 years of age is easily the oldest Dufftown I’ve yet tried. It’s not a recent release, having been distilled in 1988 (not 1987 as I mistakenly listed it as in my “Coming Soon” post) and bottled in 2015 by Cadenhead. I don’t know if it took a while after that to finally make it to the US or if I just didn’t notice it before because that’s roughly when I started paying less and less attention to whisky release news. Anyway, I noticed it in a local liquor store a month or so ago, along with a few other interesting-looking bottles, and managed to convince some friends to go in on splits of all of them with me. I kept 9 ounces of each bottle and they took the rest between them. This is the oldest of the three and in some ways the one I’m most intrigued to try. Though it’s in Cadenhead’s squat bottled “Small Batch” series, I suspect it’s from a single cask as the cask type is a bourbon hogshead and the outturn 228 bottles—which is more or less what you’d expect from a single hogshead of this strength at this age. Continue reading →
The first two entries in this week of peated whiskies that spent time in port casks were both from Islay, were both 8 years old, and were both distilled in 2013. Monday’s Bunnahabhain (bottled by Cadenhead) was double matured in a tawny port cask. Wednesday’s Kllchoman received a (presumably briefer) ruby port cask finish. Today’s Longrow (also bottled by Cadenhead) is both older than the other two by three years and spent far more time in a port cask: indeed, it was matured fully in a port cask. That may make it seem likely to be far more port-influenced than the others but it was also a refill port pipe. Depending on how many fills that port cask had gone through the port influence may in fact be quite muted. This is not my first review of a Longrow from a port cask—that would be the Longrow Red release from 2014 which was also a full-term port maturation, albeit in fresh port casks. I didn’t find that one—coincidentally also an 11 yo—to be overly wine-dominated but I also did not think it was anything so very special. Will this one be better? Let’s see. I did like both the Bunnahabhain and the Kilchoman a fair bit and it would be nice to end the week on a high note. Continue reading →
After a week of wacky mezcals—which began with one distilled with Iberico ham and ended with one distilled with mole poblano—let’s do a week of wacky single malts. Well, not really that wacky. These are all whiskies that involved port cask maturation or finishes. They’re also, as it happens, all peated whiskies. I’m not generally a fan of port cask maturation but—as I believe I’ve noted before—I think it’s in a marriage with heavy peat that it shows to its best advantage. Bunnahabhain may not be what you think of when you read the words “heavy peat”…or maybe that isn’t true anymore given how much peated Bunnahabhain, indie and official, has hit the market in the last decade. At any rate this is peated Bunnahabhain. It is eight years old. It was distilled in 2013 and spent five years or so in a bourbon cask and then three years or so in a tawny port cask. That pretty much counts as double maturation in my book. And hopefully that means the usual problems of wine finishes will be held at bay. Let’s see. Continue reading →
I started this week of reviews of whiskies from distilleries in the northern highlands up in Wick at Pulteney. On Wednesday I went south, so to speak, to Glen Ord, a little northwest of Inverness. To close the week I go just a little further north again, to Balblair on the outskirts of Tain.
We visited the distillery briefly in 2018 and I still regret not having had time for a proper tour (as I enjoyed a couple of days later at Pulteney). That visit was just a couple of years after this 26 yo was bottled. [“That’s a forced transition!”, Ed.]. I purchased it at auction in the UK in 2017 for what seemed like a good price for a whisky of its age. The fact that it was bottled by Cadenhead from a single bourbon barrel seemed like further endorsements. Cadenhead have a good track record and bourbon cask Balblair is always a good bet. And then I forgot about the bottle on my shelves…I’m looking forward to finally getting into it. I quite liked the last Balblair I had of this age—the second official release of the Balblair 1990—though that was a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry whereas this is from a single bourbon barrel—one that dropped a fair bit of abv as it aged. Continue reading →
Northern highlands week began with a 15 yo Old Pulteney. We move 100 miles or so south now to Glen Ord. This is an 11 yo from a bourbon hogshead that my source says may have been a private cask split with Binny’s in Chicago. As it happens, there’s also a Glen Ord 11, 2006 with the same abv bottled by Cadenhead that is still available at some Total Wine outlets (though none in Minnesota). So maybe it was split between Binny’s and Total Wine? Or maybe the abv is just a coincidence: the Total Wine listing is not for a single cask by a small batch release. If you can solve this uninteresting mystery please write in below. Confusion about the source of this bottle aside, I am always happy to review a Glen Ord—which is something I don’t get to do very often. Bourbon cask Glen Ord, in particular, can be very good indeed (see, for example, the last indie cask I reviewed); and it’s rarely the case that it’s not at least solid, highly drinkable malt whisky—that’s true even of the official 12 yo Singleton of Glen Ord. Let’s see where this one falls. Continue reading →
Sherry Cask Week began at Blair Athol n the Highlands on Monday. I liked that 12 yo bottled by Sovereign for K&L fine and thought it was a good value for a daily sipper. We’ll remain in the Highlands for this review, going a bit further north to Dalmore and adding six more years of age. I’ve not reviewed very many Dalmores on the blog—only two in fact before this one. I enjoyed the 12 yo and the Cigar Malt back when I first started drinking single malt whisky, which was also back when Dalmore’s whiskies were reasonably priced. But it’s been a while now since the distillery’s pricing ascended into the sphere of the very silly; and it’s also the case that there isn’t so very much indie Dalmore about, especially in the US. Not even Gordon & MacPhail have put out so very many Dalmores—though I do note that there seems to have been a slight uptick in the last few years. This 18 yo from Cadenhead also came out a couple of years ago. It’s not a full-term sherry matured, spending only the last two years in a sherry hogshead. At two years it’s really past being a finish and is squarely in double maturation territory. Well, let’s see how it compares to the Blair Athol. Continue reading →
Alright, we’ll begin the month with a week of blends. But they won’t be widely available blends—what do you think this is? A useful blog? No, it is not.
Getting us started is a whisky bottled by the Cadenhead store in Edinburgh in 2014. The store always has a Campbeltown cask on the go and this was the one they had when two friends and willing mules, D & B, visited it in 2014. The store was then managed by the renowned Jolly Toper who I knew from the Whisky Whisky Whisky forums. I’d asked him to put together a selection of interesting whiskies they could bring back for me. He selected a 21yo Allt-a-Bhainne and a 22 yo Tamdhu and also their current Campbeltown and Islay casks. When I visited Edinburgh in 2018 I purchased a few more of their exclusives including the then-current Campbeltown cask—almost entirely 15 yo sherry cask Springbank and rather good (review here). I have to confess that I’d forgotten that I still had an unopened 350 ml bottle of a 2014 incarnation of that cask; but I found it earlier this year and opened it a month and change ago. Here now are my notes. Continue reading →
If you are the kind of person who purchases bottles from whisky auctions—I’m not any more—this is the kind of bottle that you might be interested in but then be inclined to pass on. There’s not much information, if any, out there on it and the people who can usually be relied on to have passed judgment on bottles like this haven’t done so. But then you remind yourself it’s a Caol Ila from 1980 and from a bourbon cask—and that it was bottled by Cadenhead doesn’t hurt—and you decide to take the not ruinously expensive but not cheap plunge. Then years later you finally open it and pour yourself some with more than a little bit of apprehension. Why are you, I mean I going on in the second person like this? Anyway, I am the person previously described—I came across this at an auction and eventually decided to buy it—and secured it without it getting bid up. I’ve now opened it—a couple of weeks ago now—and here finally are my notes. Continue reading →
Here to close out sherry cask week and the month on the blog is a 27 yo Auchroisk bottled by Cadenhead in 2016. It is somewhat atypically—based on my experience anyway—a sherry cask. Bourbon cask Auchroisk can be wonderfully fruity and I’ve been intrigued by the distillery ever since I drank this fruit bomb bottled for Binny’s by Signatory some years ago (and which I probably gave too low a score then). Most of the other Auchroisks I’ve had have been bourbon casks as well (for example, this, this and this—the last of those another 27 yo from Cadenhead). But I don’t mean to suggest that I’ve not had any sherry cask Auchroisks before; just last year I reviewed another, a 22, 1990 bottled by Whisky-Fässle. I liked that one a lot and particularly liked that the sherry in that case was not very obtrusive and certainly did not cover up the fruit. I’m a little less sure of this one—the reviews on Whiskybase suggest it may be one best aligned with the tastes of the German market, with more than one reviewer noting the presence of “dirty sherry”, which is another way of saying sulphur. Well, as it happens I don’t mind sulphur when it presents in the savoury gunpowder end of things. But I do hope that it won’t block the fruit. Let’s see how it goes. Continue reading →
Okay, let’s do another older Glen Ord bottled by Cadenhead. This is 10 years older than Wednesday’s 21 yo (yes, that makes it 31 years old) and was bottled in 2014 from a single bourbon hogshead. I think this might be the oldest Glen Ord I’ve yet had. Considering how much I like the official 30 yo—and the fact that I really liked Wednesday’s 21 yo—I have my hopes up. Will they be fulfilled? Let’s see.
Glen Ord 31, 1983 (51%; Cadenhead; single bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Malty and a little bready off the top and then on the second sniff too. There’s some lemon and some wax as well but mostly it’s the malt that registers. After a minute or so fruit begins to emerge, mostly in the citrus family: lemon and grapefruit; some gooseberry too. Muskier with water and the lemon turns to citronella. Continue reading →