A few months back I reviewed a wave of single malts from independent bottler Càrn Mòr, to provide tasting notes for the Abbey Whisky website. Well, my next wave of tasting notes is going up on the site, and this time it’s for six new (ish) whiskies from Cadenhead’s – one of my favourite independent bottlers, who consistently offer good value for money (and their shops are well worth a visit too).
I’ve blathered on about them enough, so we’ll cut straight to the chase and look at all these whiskies, which are largely in their small batch range, and which were available for sale through Abbey Whisky. These tasting notes were originally typed up in a slightly different format for Abbey Whisky’s blog. Some of the bottles are out of stock now, but they may reappear or, indeed, you’ll find them floating about at auction.
Glenburgie 24 Year Old – 51.6% ABV
Colour: pale gold.
On the nose: huge amounts of orchard fruits, with a gentle undercurrent of lime marmalade. A slight huskiness, traces of cereal and dried hops. Orange peel. Blackcurrants. Clover honey with dried tea.
In the mouth: Far more intensity than the nose suggested and baked apples and pears come to mind. Almost a mead-like quality with touches of honey. Blackcurrant jam. Gooseberries. Viscous and pleasing. The finish is long, slightly oily and winey too.
Tobermory 21 Year Old Small Batch – 52.5% ABV
Colour: very pale, white wine.
On the nose: fresh, floral, delicate. Grapefruit, gooseberries. Green apples. Traces of vanilla.
In the mouth: green apples again, but lots of yeasty, cheesy, slightly sweaty feints. Digestive biscuits. Echoes of new make – astonishing considering the age. Lots of black pepper at the back end, with feints showing.
Glenrothes-Glenlivet 27 Year Old – 53.7% ABV
Colour: old gold.
On the nose: Baked apples. Sundried tomatoes. Dried apricots and sultanas. Slight wafts of vanilla custard, with tiramisu. Pencil shavings. Touches of fennel. Salted caramel.
In the mouth: lovely mouth feel, with some nice fruit and spice. Baked pears drizzled with golden syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper. Blood oranges and a little grapefruit acidity. Honey and some lime juice. Warming and honeyed, with a chili pepper heat right at the end.
Arran 19 Year Old – 52.4% ABV
Colour: yellow gold.
On the nose: buttermilk, vanilla, blackcurrants, dried apricots, sour cherries, warming ginger and a touch of coffee.
In the mouth: lovely silky texture, and a heck of a balance between sweet fruits and slightly sour maltiness. Blackberries, coffee, dark chocolate and heather honey, all of which carry on for the finish along with some slight wood bitterness.
Bunnahabhain 16 Year Old – 49.6 ABV
Colour: deep gold.
On the nose: gorgeous gentleness to the peat here – if indeed there’s much at all – as it’s blended with a real malty quality. Smoked salmon, with balsamic vinegar, elderberries, blackberry jam and a slight umami sensation.
In the mouth: salted caramel, with Assam tea, redcurrants, blackberries again. A slight sour, musty quality, which I’ve known before in some outlier Bunnahabhain casks, and it strays into olives and sundried tomatoes. Dark chocolate. Salty, oily, with a little burnt toast. Wonderful.
Aberfeldy 19 Year Old – 56% ABV
Colour: very pale! White wine, if that.
On the nose: grassy, elderflowers, with delicate traces of green apple. Straw-like and creamy, with echoes of new make spirit.
In the mouth: Creamy, slightly waxy, with traces of cinnamon and light floral honey. Grassy, with some sharp grapefruit sourness to balance. A medium-length finish, with grapefruit and pepper.
The Bunna’s a beauty, one of those rogue casks that allows the distillery’s crazier instincts to shine through. The Arran’s lovely too. The only poor was was the Tobermory, which is more of a problem with Tobermory in general, but the rest were – on the whole – just good drams. I suspect some of these casks were second-fill if not third-fill, so despite the ages of some of these, the flavours don’t always present themselves fully, and they shared a certain basic style.