Pulteney 11, 2006 (Cadenhead’s)


I purchased this Pulteney from Cadenhead’s in Marylebone on my visit a couple of weeks ago. They sell a range of minis of their various bottlings, and as they don’t seem to be set up to let customers taste bottles they’re interested in it’s the only way to try before you buy. In theory, at least: in practice, right now they only have a mini of one bottle that is actually still in stock and this Pulteney is not it (it’s a 12 yo Balmenach, if you want to know). Still, the price was less than that of a pour in most bars and so I decided to buy it (and a few others) anyway. There aren’t that many opportunities to taste indie Pulteney out there and I did like an even younger one Cadenhead’s bottled a long while ago (this 8 yo, distilled in 1990). And as I also have a review lined up of another young indie Pulteney (from a sherry cask), I thought I’d put this review of a bourbon cask up first and make it seem like I had a master plan.  Continue reading

Glenrothes 27, 1989 (Cadenhead’s)


Let’s take a break from the Glenfarclas reviews but let’s stay on the Speyside. Here is a somewhat unusual Glenrothes bottled by Cadenhead’s earlier this year. I don’t believe I’ve ever come across rum cask Glenrothes before and for that matter there’s not that much bourbon cask Glenrothes around. This is from Cadenhead’s “Small Batch” series and is apparently a vatting of a single bourbon barrel and a rum cask of some sort. Wild to think that there was a 27 yo rum cask just laying around. Also intriguing that they wouldn’t just have released it as such—has anyone come across a single rum cask malt of that age? Of course, this might imply that the contents of the cask might not have been that great on their own but it might have been worth it for novelty alone. It’s also possible, of course, that the rum barrel was a finish/double maturation of a cask put away in 1989—though again you have to wonder why that wouldn’t have been worth releasing by itself. Anyway, I haven’t reviewed much Glenrothes on the blog so I’m hoping this will represent the distillery well. And I suppose if I like it there’s a decent chance that it might still be available from the Cadenhead’s shop in London. Let’s see.  Continue reading

Glen Grant 31, 1984 (Cadenhead’s)

Glen Grant 31, 1984, Cadenhead's
Last week I reviewed a bourbon cask Glen Grant that was distilled in 1985 and bottled in 2008. This week I have another Glen Grant from that era. This was distilled a year earlier but was bottled quite a bit later, in 2016 by Cadenhead’s. So, it’s not as untimely a review as the previous. It’s also not from a bourbon cask. Despite these important differences I’m interested to see if any obvious throughlines emerge from these two casks from the mid-1980s that might cause me to revise my skepticism about the notion of “distillery character”. I’m also interested to see how long-aged sherry cask Glen Grant from the mid-1980s compares to long-aged sherry cask Glen Grants from an earlier era—such as this excellent older release from Scott’s Selection.

(Cadenhead’s continues to use the -Glenlivet suffix on a number of their Speyside releases. Is this no longer prohibited?)  Continue reading

Glen Moray 16, 1998 (Cadenhead’s Small Batch)

Glen Moray 16 (Cadenhead's)
I purchased this Glen Moray from Cadenhead’s Small Batch series at the same time as this Aberfeldy 17 and opened it alongside it. I did not like it as much as that one when first opened and indeed I didn’t really like it much, period, then. I took it to my local group’s July tasting and my opinion was echoed by a number of others. But as so often happens, as the bottle stayed open it began to improve, and by the halfway mark it was a lot fruitier and some of the funkier notes that I hadn’t liked very much at first became more appealing. I took it back to my group’s September tasting earlier this month and my revised opinion was again echoed by the group (who were tasting blind as they always do). Even though it never turned into anything spectacular this is another reminder/lesson to not come to quick conclusions about newly opened bottles (especially those at cask strength). And it’s a reminder as well that the “reliability” of any review you’re reading anywhere is susceptible to uncertainty re the point in the bottle’s life the review comes from (and the reviewer may not even know when it comes to samples): in other words, please don’t take my notes or scores too seriously.  Continue reading

Aberfeldy 17, 1997 (Cadenhead’s Small Batch)

Aberfeldy 17, 1998, Cadenhead's Small Batch
This is the first Aberfeldy I’ve reviewed on the blog and it may well be only the second Aberfeldy I’ve ever tasted. Not much of it is available. Until recently, there were only a 12 yo and a 21 yo available from the distillery and my experience of the 12 yo did not ever make me curious about the 21 yo. I found it to be an unremarkable malt, in a somewhat generic, mildly fruity Highlands style: not offensive but not really intriguing. Not that intrigue would have helped much: there’s very little Aberfeldy available from the independents (most of it goes into the bottomless vats of the Dewar’s blends) and most of those seem to be G&M releases in their Connoisseur’s Choice line—which also has rarely gotten very many whisky geeks’ pulses racing. This one was bottled last year in 2014 by Cadenhead’s in their Small Batch series. As my experience with the last lot of Cadenhead’s Small Batch releases was pretty positive I was willing to take a chance on it. I am happy to say I rather like it.  Continue reading

Glenfarclas 33, 1973 (Cadenhead’s)

Glenfarclas 33, 1973, Cadenhead's
Here’s something you don’t see every day: both an older, bourbon cask Glenfarclas and an indie Glenfarclas labeled as such. This was released 10 years ago by Cadenhead’s, who seem able to break a number of these labeling rules (see their recent Small Batch releases of Speyside distilleries with the old-style Glenlivet sufffix hyphenated on). Since then I think there has been the odd official Family Casks release from a bourbon cask, and there may have been other indie releases as well from bourbon casks that didn’t have the Glenfarclas name on them (as is usual). Anyway, I’ve not had any before, old or young, and so I’m very interested to see what this is like. It goes without saying that this is long gone.

(I’d originally planned to review it alongside the official Glenfarclas 30 but tree pollen put paid to those plans.)  Continue reading

Pulteney 8, 1990 (Cadenhead’s)

Pulteney 8, 1990, Cadenheads
I think this review has been long promised/threatened. It’s a good thing I didn’t get around to it when I first said I would because this is one of those whiskies that went from being blah when first opened to being quite pleasant after it had sat with some in the air in the bottle for a few weeks/months. The very high strength doubtless had something to do with that. Anyway, this is somewhat unusual because it’s an independent Old Pulteney: you don’t see too many of those around (I believe the distillery requires that the indies drop the “Old” from their labels). And this bottle itself is not a recent release. It’s from a Cadenhead’s series from before they left the US market (only to come back again a couple of years ago). A number of the whiskies released in this series in the mid-late 1990s can still be found here and there: the prices and quality are variable but, as I said, you don’t see too many indie Pulteneys around.   Continue reading

Longmorn 26, 1987 (Cadenhead’s)

Longmorn 1987, Cadenhead's
My last review of a Longmorn saw me give out my highest score yet. That was for the staggeringly good 1969-2011 bottled by Gordon & MacPhail for van Wees in the Netherlands. Later this month I will have a review of another bottle from that series (thr 1972-2011) and I may also get around to a 31, 1978 bottled for the Whisky Exchange a couple of years ago. And so I am in the decadent position of feeling like this 26 yo from 1987 bottled by Cadenhead’s is not that old and not that special. Excuse me while I slap myself.

Okay, I’m back. This is from the recent(ish) release of cask strength dumpy bottles by Cadenhead’s, a part of their general makeover. I’ve reviewed a large number of the bottles that came to the US in late 2013 and liked all of those—some a lot. That’s one reason I’m hopeful that this will also be very good (this one was released in Europe). The other reason is that if it turns out to be the case that old Longmorn from any era can exhibit the qualities of the 60s and 70s distillate then we can all mourn a little bit less the passing of bottles from those decades. Continue reading

Allt-A-Bhainne 21, 1992 (Cadenhead’s)

Allt-A-Bhainne
I’ve noted on more than one occasion that I know nothing about certain distilleries, and I know I shouldn’t make a virtue out of ignorance, but of all the distilleries whose malts I’ve sat down to review I know least about Allt-A-Bhainne. Not only do I not know where it is located or how the name is pronounced but I have to keep checking to make sure I’m spelling it correctly. Well, it turns out it’s in the Speyside and is owned by Chivas Bros./Pernod Ricard, isn’t very old (founded in 1975) and, improbably, its name is pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. It produces for Chivas Bros.’ blends and I’m not sure if an official malt is even available.

This is also a 200 ml bottle from the Cadenhead’s shop in Edinburgh that was carted back for me by a friend last month along with the recently reviewed Tamdhu (and a couple of other things that’ll show up here next month). I gather it is from the set of recent small batch releases, some of which came to the US (though not this one) and a further subset of which I reviewed in early January. It was also recommended by the notorious Jolly Toper and so I expect it will be interesting at the least. Continue reading

Tamdhu 22, 1991 (Cadenhead’s)

Tamdhu 22, 1991
This 200 ml bottle of a recent Cadenhead’s small batch Tamdhu was brought back for me from Edinburgh by a friend a couple of weeks ago and was recommended by the redoubtable Jolly Toper, who I know from the WhiskyWhiskyWhisky forums.

I’ve never had a port matured whisky of this advanced age, and I can’t say that I would have been drawn to it on my own steam. 22 years in port casks seems like a lot and the risk of the whisky being overbearingly sweet or cough-syrupy seems high. And in general I’ve preferred port finished/matured whiskies that are also peated (the Ballechin #3, for instance) to those that aren’t (the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, for instance). I was willing to trust the Jolly Toper’s judgement though, especially as I had the opportunity to get relatively unusual whiskies that I couldn’t get in the US or get shipped to the US. And Tamdhu itself is a distillery I’ve had good, if limited, experience with. Let’s see how this goes. Continue reading

Caol Ila 22, 1991 (Cadenhead’s)

Cadenhead's, Caol Ila 22Here, finally, is the last of the eight Cadenhead’s Small Batch bottles I split with friends. This is the oldest of the bunch we bought and probably the most eagerly anticipated one by the people who split it. Caol Ila is very, very rarely bad, and once it gets into the 20s it usually is very, very good. This smelled very nice when I was pouring it out for distribution and it’s been hard to wait to taste it. Here goes.

Caol Ila 22, 1991 (52.2%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch, bourbon hoghshead; from a bottle split with friends)

Nose: Some minerally peat but not a whole lot of smoke as such. A little pine and then fruit: apples at first and then increasing lemon, and increasingly ashy lemon. The pine/eucalyptus note gets a little stronger with time, and it’s sweeter in general after a few minutes. Let’s see what water does. With water there’s quite a bit of salt and more ash to go with the lemon and the pine/eucalyptus thing quietens down a bit. Continue reading

Glen Grant 15, 1997 (Cadenhead’s)

Cadenhead's, Glen Grant 15
Glen Grant, as I’ve said before, is one of the storied distilleries that I don’t know very well and so I’m always happy to try another one. I have a review scheduled for next month of a much older, sherried one from an earlier era but first, here’s this bourbon cask teenager from the late 1990s. I’ve liked all the Cadenhead’s Small Batch releases I’ve reviewed in this run–some more than others–and I hope this will keep the positive streak going.

Glen Grant 15, 1997 (55.8%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split with friends)

Nose: Wood makes the first impression–pencil shavings turning to lightly toasted oak. Some fruit below it (apples) and then an increasing maltiness. With more time there’s some white grape as well and the wood gets somewhat dusty; more acidic too now. The fruit expands, melds with the malt and gets much more musky with time. With water the vanilla from the palate shows up here too and the fruit really expands: peaches, oranges, plums. Continue reading

Auchroisk 12, 2001 (Cadenhead’s)

Cadenhead's, Auchroisk 12
This Auchroisk is yet one more from my ongoing series of reviews of Cadenhead’s bottles I split with some friends. I’ve quite liked the few Auchroisks I’ve tried so far. Those were both middle-aged (see here and here). What will the story be with this not quite teenager from 2001? As per Cadenhead’s, “[I]n 2011 the character of Auchroisk was changed” with a 72 hour fermentation now employed in place of a 48 hour fermentation. They say that this bottle is “from the old style”. Unless I’m misunderstanding, surely no one has yet tried the new style. If the new fermentation regime was put into place in 2011, nothing distilled from it could be bottled as Scotch whisky till 2014 at the earliest. Or is this a typo and did the fermentation time change in 2001? Does anyone know?

Auchroisk 12, 2001 (59.3%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch; bourbon hoghshead; from a bottle split with friends) Continue reading

Ledaig 16, 1997 (Cadenhead’s)

Cadenhead's, Ledaig 16The procession of Cadenhead’s Small Batch reviews goes on. This is the oldest modern era Ledaig I’ve had (the very oldest I’ve had, a senior citizen from 1972, was my favourite whisky bottled in 2013). I doubt this will approach those heights but am hoping that it will be good nonetheless. Despite Ledaig’s general iffy recent reputation some very good stuff has been available from indies of late.

Ledaig 16, 1998 (56%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch, bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split with friends)

Nose: A dense fog of farmy peat; lots of rotting organic material–pungent, almost sweet. Gets increasingly rubbery (bicycle inner tube). With a little more time there’s a fair bit of salt. Not much change after 15-20 minutes. Okay, let’s take another sip and add some water. Water brings out a minerally sweetness and then some lemon begins to emerge behind some ashy smoke. Continue reading