Cadenhead’s Glengoyne Chateau Lafitte & Macallan 25 Years Old

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A short, sweet post on two whiskies from Scotland’s oldest independent bottler, Cadenhead’s, whose whiskies are generally excellent and probably represent the best value out there. You can pick up old whiskies for reasonably low prices, and that makes whisky drinkers feel all warm inside. If you’re interested, have a read of this interview with Mark Watt, who is in charge of the Cadenhead’s range.

Cadenhead’s always release interesting whiskies, such as this stunning Dalmore rum cask. So today, here are two more contrasting single malts: something outrageous and something paired down. Both well made, but one gets my blood pumping far more than the other. These whiskies are both from Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection.

Glengoyne 19 Years Old Chateau Lafitte [sic] cask 1996

Distilled in 1996, aged for 19 years – some of which (most of which?) was in a prestigious Chateau Lafitte (is the spelling Lafitte, as on the bottle, or actually meant to be Lafite?) wine cask from the Bordeaux region. Bottled at 55% ABV. Initial cost £65. Sold out in a flash. Likely to appear at auction for more.

glengoyneColour: Gorgeous. Henna, with just a touch of ruby-red.

On the nose: a hint of liquorice and hedgerow fruits. Touch of musty old-wood quality, pencil boxes, tobacco. Leather furniture. A little prickly so a dash of water might be advised – that brings more mellow fruits – raspberries and strawberries come to mind.

In the mouth: utterly gorgeous texture, with such thickness and slipperiness on the tongue. (Reminds me, immediately, of the brilliant Bruichladdich First Growth series Château Margaux cask.) Tartness of blackcurrants, sumptuousness of blackberries. Very intense, thick hedgerow jam. You could spread this on toast. Mustiness now, old wood qualities showing – pencil boxes and tobacco still follow from the nose. Elderberries. Morello cherries. Ever so slight bitterness of oak, and a sourness of the cherry finish that stops this being an incredible whisky.

It shouldn’t really work so well, but it really does – takes the essence of ancient sherry-matured whiskies and dials them up. I think it’s more of a bold and chunky whisky than it is refined and elegant; more masculine than feminine. Don’t let the wine-name trick you. Wine finishes or even full-term maturation in ex-wine casks are becoming more and more common these days, but this one absolutely stands out from the crowd. Amazing value.

Why isn’t there more whisky like this in the world? This cost £65, FFS!

Macallan-Glenlivet 1989 25 Year Old

Distilled in 1989, matured in just a Bourbon Barrel, then bottled in October 2014 at 51.4% ABV. Likely to appear at auction for well over £100. This was tasted blind in a sample exchange with Whisky Rover.

Colour: deep gold.

On the nose: very fresh! Citrus notes – Lemon and Lime Marmalade. Vanilla with a little caramel. Certainly fruity, with touches of fresh peaches. Marzipan, praline, milk chocolate. Very perfumed – old roses.

In the mouth: yes, much of that comes through. Citrus at the core. Lime soda, perhaps. Vanilla again – less caramel than one of those sickly Praline chocolate box affairs. Strawberry jam. A little lingering wood on the finish – toasted fennel. Chilli honey. Nothing outrageous. Just a well made, good-strength, no-nonsense whisky. But I’m indifferent to it.

I was surprised to learn that this was a Macallan, as it contrasts in both texture and flavour profile to what I’ve had before (such is the wonder of a single cask whisky).

Conclusions

It’s nice to try another non-sherried Macallan; though nothing bold, and nothing that moved me, the spirit was very good – and sometimes it’s nice to be reassured. But the Glengoyne is outrageous – oh my – and at the original price of £65 I would think it could become one of the top whiskies of 2016. Pay up to £100 at auction and I think you’ll still be getting good value.

Again, all I can say is just keep your eyes peeled for whatever Cadenhead’s are releasing. The value for money is brilliant – especially if you find the odd gem like the Glengoyne Chateau Lafitte [sic] cask. And you should hunt that bad boy down; it’s whiskies like this that give wine cask maturation a good name. (Actually don’t hunt it down – you’ll probably end up bidding against me.)

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