Do you wanna be in the Malt gang? An interesting question, except that this isn’t a gang or club. We’d like to think of it as a resource and a place you can come and hopefully be informed and entertained at the same time. Relax, spend a little time enjoying the banter and flow of information online whether it’s via the main website, Instagram, Twitter and good old Facebook.
The options nowadays are endless unlike the time we have to keep these things flush with life and detail. Personally, I’m against any club or special institution. When it comes to whisky, information should be free and widely available. Word of mouth is still the best source I have for potential purchases. When I hear of friends raving about a particularly bottle – I normally dismiss the first hit – but sit up and take notice when it appears in conversation again. Then it’s time for action.
From Malt and my time as the Artist formerly known as Whisky Rover, I’ve learned that many of you out there follow our recommendations and that’s a big responsibility. I’m far from flush with cash and I expect neither are you. A free sample or bottle does not guarantee a good review. I always ask myself would I purchase this bottle and at the asking price? If it ticks the boxes then I’m happy to recommend it. As I’ve learned over the years several out there have a similar palate to mine or the other team members at Malt. You align yourself to whatever writer you feel has a similar palate profile.
Whilst I shy away from elitist clubs there are other memberships that do warrant consideration and tangible benefits. The Cadenhead Club is such an organisation. Here for the cost of an annual fee – £50 initially then £30 each year to renew – you receive a stamp card with 6 vacancies and for each bottle you purchase a stamp is produced. Once a card is completed, this guarantees you a special Club bottling towards the end of each calendar year. It makes sense if you frequent a Cadenheads shop and regularly purchase from their wide range of monthly releases. For the annual fee you’re effectively receiving a bottle – or several – as a reward for supporting this independent bottler.
It’s an effective model and an example that I’m surprised that other independent bottlers have not sought to introduce themselves. Whilst they may not have shop outlets there must be a way to reward their customers and encourage repeat purchases.
For Cadenheads there is always speculation as to what the Club bottling will be each year. The trinity of the Cadenhead team sit down and select a cask for bottling. Given that 2017 marked the year of the financial onslaught of their 175th Anniversary celebrations. A mere sherry butt with 600+ bottles might not cut the mustard when it comes to the number of cards the membership have collected over the last year. Yes, you can actually trade the completed cards for an earlier release in the year that you loved or enjoyed – within reason – rather than taking a Club bottling. I’ve always gone with what the Campbeltown team select as the standard has been very good. Also I’m probably fortunate to have been in the club from its early days and have the initial Glen Keith bottling.
For 2017, the team knew that the majority of the membership would have purchased far too many bottles. Their selections were a Benrinnes distilled in 1997 and a Glenrothes from 1996; both well matured options. Able to claim a ridiculous 6 pack of the Glenrothes, I’ve opened a bottle to share with the Edinburgh staff and also given away a bottle to a friend for free. The remaining bottles will be used in tastings or for my own enjoyment with a solitary bottle kept to keep the Clubcaden collection complete. The Benrinnes review will follow, but for now let’s sit down with this Glenrothes and reflect upon a memorable anniversary.
Cadenhead’s Club Glenrothes 21 year old – review
Colour: just honey
On the nose: a lovely assortment of sherry characteristics with cherry wood, worn leather, beeswax, chocolate raisins and walnuts. A herbal fried sage element offers an avenue of escape before tobacco and a Highland toffee revive the cask. Maple syrup brings some needed sweetness and water reveals a dab of orange sherbet followed by chalk.
In the mouth: is the luxurious texture that really impresses. Yes there’s a lovely journey through the rolled tobacco, chocolate flakes, orange peel and caramel, but the elegance of the mouthfeel has a warming seasonality about it. A dry finish with a touch of yeast rounds off a quality dram.
Another quality entry in the Cadenhead Club ranks. Year in year out, I go with what the Campbeltown team select to bottle – rather than cashing in the cards for an existing release – simply because they pick out something really enjoyable as a thank you to their avid membership. A club well worth considering.