The door firmly shuts on January and all of its nonsense. The dry January fad is short-lived, as many return to their old ways. Thankfully, February heralds a new onslaught of whisky from James Eadie and the realisation that 6 months have passed since we checked out their previous outturn.
Revisiting the piece, the overall quality was above average with the Cambus and Blair Athol releases warranting serious consideration. The UK market for any aspiring independent bottler is extremely tough currently, with consumers facing a widespread choice and the fear of what Brexit may do to their disposable income. The market is about to become a little more crowded with Single Cask Nation revealing ambitions to enter the quagmire.
As it stands we have plenty of independents offering us a plethora of casks and distilleries. If you are a fan of Glendullan then now more than ever before, you’re able to explore a variety of releases outside of the dull Singleton range. You can pick and choose your distillery or vintages and gouge yourself on a bountiful marketplace. From my perspective, this is a great time to explore distilleries new and old. To appreciate the styles of distillate and the influence they have on the final product. The wood of course, but also what makes each of these distilleries unique and worthy of your time and money. This is frankly an era of an Aladdin’s cave of possible treasures and gold plated forgery.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give anyone; it is to have fun. Whisky can become all-consuming and all too serious. Full of debatable behaviours online and in person. Being seen with the right whisky and in the right company; the list can go on for longer than it really should. Above everything explore, push your boundaries – I’m a rather have tried and failed type of exponent – and keep an open mind. Except when it comes to Jura. My goodness, we’ve tried, but that ship has sailed!
Introduction nailed. Now it is time to move into the 7 whiskies that form this latest outturn. Hopefully, we’ll find something to enjoy and with each dram, guaranteed we’ll have learnt something new. This outturn can be split into 3 separate camps. Firstly a small batch bottling, followed by 2 single casks and 4 cask finishes. A sizeable undertaking that we’re bringing to you in a handy article. Our thanks to James Eadie for the opportunity.
James Eadie Aultmore 8 year old – review
Distilled in 2008, both casks #800025 & #800027 were 1st Fill Bourbon and bottled at 46% vol.
Colour: A very pale tan.
On the nose: A gentle fruit arrival and a light and airy nature. Subtle limes, sherbet and oranges. Pencil shavings and pears give the impression of being before its time.
In the mouth: more of those meadow fruits, but they feel way past their best. Vanilla toffee wafts by and then some tablet. A very simple dram without too much depth or development.
James Eadie Auchroisk 11 year old – review
Distilled in 2007, cask #805594 was a 1st Fill Bourbon, bottled at a cask Strength of 59.5% vol. This is available on Amazon for £59.95.
Colour: Melted butter.
On the nose: Gentle to nose even at this strength. A summer field, barley drops and toffee apples. Freshly snapped fennel, rum fudge, a touch of mint leaf and vanilla caramel.
In the mouth: An impressive oily texture greet you. Lots of cereals evident and the alcohol strength. A robust Auchroisk. Shredded wheat and lashing of syrup, almonds, white chocolate and hazelnuts.
James Eadie Strathmill 11 year old – review
Distilled in 2008, cask #806272 was a Re-charred Hogshead, bottled at a cask strength of 59.3% vol.
Colour: Worn pine wood.
On the nose: Light with a typical Speyside vibe with apples and barley drops giving it a certain freshness. Lemon oil, popcorn and cereals round off an inoffensive presentation. Water reveals more fruits with pears and a little lime.
In the mouth: Quite limited with a modest vanilla thrust but more cereal-based than anything else. A little cask char, some shortbread and water isn’t beneficial. Plucked from the cask too soon, or a poor cask?
James Eadie Caol Ila 11 year old – review
Distilled in 2007, cask #314431 was finished for 6 months in 1st Fill European Oak Palo Cortado Sherry Hogshead. Bottled at a cask strength of 57.4% vol.
Colour: Gold leaf.
On the nose: Peated fruit! Red berries and a damp, peated aspect. A mineral quality which I’ll summarise as struck flint. Refreshers? Dried oranges, a coal sack (empty) and a salty, brine quality. Pine cones, slicing the outer layer off a pineapple, lemons and that raspberry squirty sauce Ice Cream vans always put on your order.
In the mouth: The cask has quelled the forceful peat thrust of Caol Ila. It’s still tangible but restrained, more evidence is the saltiness and brine. Cranberries on the finish. Wafers and a cardboard nature linger.
James Eadie Dailuaine 11 year old – review
Distilled in 2007, cask #310570 was finished for 6 months in 1st Fill European Oak PX Sherry Hogshead. Bottled at a cask strength of 54.3% vol. Available on Amazon £55.95.
Colour: A cloudy honey.
On the nose: In reality, all cask, a varnished table, some red fruits and rose petals. Rhubarb, honeycomb, orange zest and hard wood. Rubbed brass, cherries and a perfume note. Perfectly pleasant and approachable.
In the mouth: Drying on the finish is my lasting memory. Chocolate notes, red lettuce, tobacco and red apples. Clay-like feel to proceedings with a hint of rubber in a good way.
James Eadie Glen Spey 11 year old – review
Distilled in 2007, cask #805410 was finished for 6 months in 1st Fill European Oak PX Sherry Hogshead. Bottled at a cask Strength of 58.9% vol.
On the nose: Dark chocolate, walnuts, mace and spent tobacco. Toffee with orange peel and glazed cherries. There’s also ginger and honeycomb – water wasn’t hugely beneficial.
In the mouth: Very sherry focused with fudge, dried fruits and a dry finish. A little charcoal, leathery with red apples. Water removes some of the sherry edge leaving ripe green apples and a drinkable quality.
James Eadie Linkwood 10 year old – review
Distilled in 2008, cask #1/1 was finished for 20 months in 1st Fill European Oak Oloroso Butt. Then bottled at a cask strength at 57.9% vol. Available on Amazon for £56.95.
Colour: Worn pine wood.
On the nose: Hay, very light and Speyside with apples, cereals and barley drops. A certain freshness, lemon oil and popcorn. Plenty of cereals yet again. Water reveals more fruits especially pears and a touch of lime.
In the mouth: Quite limited. A gentle vanilla and plenty of cereals with a touch of cask char. More biscuits and I felt water wasn’t beneficial.
The Aultmore is well placed as the intro. A gentle wake up and palate cleanser, I can see it in this role as it just offers a small sprinkling of characteristics. More spirit based with 2 seemingly inactive casks, we’ll move on quickly. Whereas the Auchroisk kicks us off in style. Not hugely complex by any means, but a boisterous character pitched circa £50, I’m tempted. Engaging and that oily texture is marvellous – I’m glad no finish was deemed necessary. Lovely drop as it is.
The Strathmill is either on the young side, or channelling the inner Mark theme. The result of a knackered cask. There’s a simple aspect to the whisky that is inoffensive and pleasant, but a bit boring.
Then the fortified wine cask finishes. I presume when faced with a batch of bourbon casks you do have to liven things up a little. Finishing comes into the equation and gives a robust theme to several of these releases. Hence what we have here. The Linkwood just felt like a poor marriage and the Glen Spey is all about the cask finish.
The Dailuaine has been stomped by the cask in such a short period of time. This underlines the power of the cask and the influence it can unleash. The subtle nature and waxiness of the distillery that I normally expect has been erased. The balance has pitched in favour of the cask and I’m slightly nonplused. I know Justine has been chasing the Caol Ila all over Fife, looking desperately for a bottle. Desperately seeking Cortado. It’s ok, but nothing that I’d phone around for. Each to their own, which is a fundamental joy about whisky.
Overall, a mixed bag. All reasonably priced it must be said and the chance to explore some unfashionable distilleries. The Auchroisk is the one for me and please hunt around for remnants of the previous outturn.
Samples kindly provided by James Eadie for this article. As you can see this never influences our opinion. There are a couple of commission links within this article for your convenience, but shop around.