Tag Archive: Scotland


Ardbeg: Drum (Islay Single Malt Whisky: 52% ABV)

Visual: Very clear and light. Mix of fast and slow medium sized streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Heavy peat. Lightly waxy. Slight salt. Waxed fruit. Slight sugar cane. Fresh brown bread. Ripe banana. Banana leaves. Water adds nail polish and dried meat.

Body: Banana. Oily. Oily peat. Caramelised sugar. Rum. Palma violets. Water adds banana yogurt. Peat. Grapes.

Finish: Caramelised brown sugar. Molasses. Cherries. Rum. Peat. Banana and banana leaves. Waxy. Pear drops. Banana custard. Fatty sausage.

Conclusion: This feels like the most unexpected of experiences for me. It is a tropical tasting Ardbeg. It comes in with such a punch of a peaty aroma, but then drops you into smooth (and yes still peat influenced) perfection behind. It punches peat out, punches out waxy and heavy, burnt brown sugar and oily notes. It feels initially like it is going to be one to punch your teeth out.

On that first sip instead it comes in with subtle waxy, oily notes below the peaty weight, and leaves a touch of room which is nigh instantly filled by the rum coming in. It floods in with spicy and dry notes backed by lots of burnt, caramelised brown sugar and even molasses like notes.

More than that, what makes this seem so utterly different is that it has so much banana character added into this – waxy banana, mashed banana, banana yogurt, banana custard. Lots of banana notes really selling the tropical imagery and working so well against the spicier rum notes. Very sweet, always present behind the oily, peaty character.

Heavy peat, heavy sweet, thick waxy mouthfeel, meaty weight. It has full Ardbeg weight but is so sweet, rum touched and vibrant behind that. This is a legend, so polished, weighing the Ardbeg character but unlike any Ardbeg I have tried before.

It is something I never expected – a dessert meets Ardbeg peat whisky. It is both different and amazing, If you get the chance, and it is not silly money, try it. Genuinely great

Background: Final of the five whiskies tried at Independent Spirit‘s Uber Whisky Tasting. Ok, there was a sixth bonus one, this was the last official one, ok. This is this year’s take on the annual Arbeg Committee Release and one I was very excited to try – a rum finished Ardbeg! Going for stupid amounts of money if you try and find it online now, I was so chuffed to see it in the tasting so I could give it a go. As always with sessions like this I was doing notes in a group environment, so may be a tad more scattershot than normal but I do my best.

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Douglas Laing: Bowmore XOP 21 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 21 Year: 56.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear greened grain. Mid sized streaks come out from the spirit.

Nose: Smoke. Smooth peat. Light moss. Very smooth and clean. Oily fish skin. Lightly medicinal. Batter. Water changes little.

Body: Oily fish skin. Sweet apples. Smooth. Cinder toffee. Grapes. Light ash. Slight salt. Water adds more grapes and some smoke.

Finish: Cinder toffee. Oily fish skin. Seaweed. Crème brulee. Slight ash. Grapes. Water adds more smoke, slightly peppery.

Conclusion: This is so clean, so smooth for the abv, so polished. It has got salt, slight medicinal character as you would expect from and Islay, but low peat and no fancy barrel ageing altering the flavour. What you get is very smooth vanilla, tinned tropical fruit and grape notes that speak to a very long time in a bourbon barrel. It doesn’t act unusually, but it does have the standard notes delivered ultra smoothly.

The lighter touch lets green fruit notes come out and mix with the lighter medicinal character. If you are worried from this description that the whisky is going to be too light for you, let me reassure you that there are still notes such as an oily fish skin heaviness, notes that bring a thicker character to a gentle alcohol weight whisky. For people who have tried a lot of Bowmore I’d say imagine a mix of the 12 and 18 year, taken the best elements of the two, smoothing massively and putting out at higher alcohol strength and polish.

Water smooths it out even more if you can believe that making for a very easy to sip Islay, but it doesn’t open up any new notes. Now it tastes nowhere near the abv it is pushing out, even taking into account the water, so smooth, with the only flaw is that it doesn’t stand out with any unique elements. It is not super different in flavour to the younger expressions but it is very polished and enjoyable. A very refined take on a classic.

Background: What is there to say for this one? – fourth of the five whiskies tasted at Independent Spirit‘s recent Uber Whisky tasting night. As always with sessions like this I was doing notes in a group environment, so may be a tad more scattershot than normal but I do my best. So, I have had some bloody good experience with the XOP range from Douglas Laing. Also, seriously, I love Bowmore, though they do such a wide range of expressions it is hard to know what you will get in any bottling. To paraphrase one of my favourite quotes on Bowmore – If you can’t find a Bowmore expression you enjoy it may be time to ask if whisky is for you. This one of 317 bottles taken from a single cask.


Bruichladdich: Micro Provenance Cask Evolution Exploration: Sauternes 2006 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 58.4% ABV)

Visual: Light clear gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Cloying sweet apricot. Dessert wine. Pears. Grapes. Light rubber. Water adds wine gums sweets. More water adds slight salt.

Body: Pears. Almost evaporates on the tongue. Water brings out dessert wine. Vanilla. Light tannins. More water adds dried banana, more apricot. Even more water adds vanilla and slight salt.

Finish: Pears. Dry. Mineral water. Alcohol air. Water adds vanilla. Toffee. Dessert wine. Wine gums.

Conclusion:This is so strong yet sweet. The expected dessert wine and apricot notes come out from the neat spirit, yet more than that you get subtle pear and grape notes underneath, I’m guessing native spirit characters accentuated by the sweetness to give more complexity than often comes from this sweet and sometimes overpowering barrel ageing.

Neat the strong alcohol means that it almost evaporates off the tongue, giving no peat, no salt or any of the expected Islay character. It is clean, slightly rubbery, but with gentle fruit over an impressive alcohol weight but restrained burn. To get the spirit to stick around and to get the slight Islay salt character coming out you need to add a fair amount of water, but don’t worry, it can take it.

Even with water it is so very clean in the spirit character, lots of dry yet sweet dessert wine, and that gentle fruit, with the pear and apricot given more room to roam. The lack of overt Islay character is matched by a lack of lot of the Bruichladdich style. Instead you get lots of subtle complexity from the oak, lots of depth in those sweeter flavours for the water to bring out.

If it had more influence from the native Bruichladdich spirit then I would have no hesitation in recommending this as an absolute stonker. As is it is a very nice show of oak ageing, especially with water, and has wonderful subtlety in its weight.

Background: This was the third of five whiskies at Independent Spirit‘s Uber whisky tasting. I love those things, a chance to try five whiskies I might not otherwise get to try. As always with tastings like this it was in a social environment so I may have been influenced by people around me and the notes may be slightly shorter than usual. Hope you still enjoy. Anyway, this one is from Bruichladdich’s cask experimentation, made with optic barley and aged in the unusual Sauternes which in my experience adds a lot of sweetness to a whisky, so should be interesting seeing how it interacts with the Islay character here.

Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Linkwood 21 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 21 Year: 51.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened grain. Very slow thin streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Noticeable alcohol. Soft lime. Vanilla. Floral. Crushed digestives. Pencil shavings. Water makes gentle and slight rocks.

Body: Smooth but warming. Cake sponge. Vanilla. Soft lime. Marzipan. Crushed peanuts. Water adds vanilla custard. More marzipan. More water adds light cherries.

Finish: Key lime pine. Vanilla. Soft caramel. Alcohol air. Lightly nutty. Marzipan. Water adds cake sponge and more nuts. More water adds cherry pocked biscuits.

Conclusion: Well, a lot more going on with this than seemed at first glance. Despite being over 50% abv, the alcohol character is not the issue that prevented me from getting into it right away. There is no burn to this, despite the alcohol being evident in the aroma and warming in the body it actual works out fairly restrained overall for this.

Initially it comes across floral with vanilla sweetness – very smooth for the abv, but nothing special in the flavor. Slowly, over time a gentle nuttiness comes out – which reminds me of my previous experience with Linkwood where it seemed like a more gentle Strathisla.

Water play adds many layers though, taking it away from that simple impression. The nuttiness merges with the sweetness to give more body to a marzipan note that was hinted at previously. More water allows cherry and digestive notes to come out that add range and more varied sweetness around the nutty character.

Gentle, smooth, works well with water and feels like a smooth Strathisla made sweeter, and very rewarding and easy to drink. Not the most complex, but complex enough for an easy going 21 year spirit.

Background: Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. Only had one Linkwood before, I think, brought up my notes on it while trying this so I could compare. Not much else to add – put on Getter – Visceral to listen to while drinking. Nice electronic kind of chilled tunes. The only pity is the only reason I found out about the album is because of the hate and online and offline abuse the creator was getting due to it being so different to their usual work. People are scum sometimes. It is good, check it out. If you don’t like it, that is fine, but don’t send artists, or in fact anyone abuse just because their work is not to your tastes.

Game Of Thrones: Night Watch: Oban (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 43% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold. A thick sheet comes down from the spirit slowly.

Nose: Raisins. Brandy cream. Cereal grains. Oak. Brown sugar crystals. Water adds pine cleaning spray. Pencil shavings. Fudge.

Body: Smooth. Oak. Warming alcohol. Chocolate cake. Black liquorice touch. Mild smoke and stones. Subtle fruitcake. Toffee. Water adds subtle cherries. Charring. Bitter coffee cake. Brandy cream. Orange liqueur touch. Grapes.

Finish: Chocolate cake. Bitter cocoa dust. Light smoke. Dry. Dry stones. Dry oak. Slight caramel. Water adds slight dry liquorice. Bitter red wine.

Conclusion: This is a very dark tasting whisky, mixing what tastes like deep sherry ageing, slight smoke and rocky coast takes on the spirit with bitter chocolate and coffee cake. It is a hefty mix.

This is smooth, but with alcohol warmth if held on the tongue – it smooths even that out very easily with a drop of water. It shares with Talisker that kind of character that, while definitely not Islay, still brings sea breeze, smoke and wet rock touched. A feeling of a match of Highland and Island would be the best way I would describe it.

Over that is a delicious mix of dark fruit, spirit soaked cream notes, generally dark feeling notes, but with slight light sweetness and grapes brought out by water to provide gentle release. It feels thematically appropriate to the Night Watch in bottle design, flavour and general look. Which is nice.

It doesn’t quite reach a must have status, but easily in the top 50% of whisky. It has the complexity, smoothness, lots up front and easy to open up to more complexity. The extra 3% abv feel like it gives a lot more depth to the whisky with little burn in exchange.

Solid and steadfast like the Night Watch. (Well, as far as I read in the books, for all I know this seems massively naive to all those of you who are up to date on the show. I know how GRR Martin works) Heavy and slow drinking, well worth grabbing if you can.

Background: Second of the three game Of Thrones whiskies I bought and the first that is a whole new expression for the GOT line. I got this particular one for two main reasons. One, it has been a while since I have tried a new Oban expression and I have a soft spot for the distillery. Two, look at that bottle, it looks lovely. Yes nothing to do with the whisky I know, but I am easily influenced. Grabbed from Independent spirit, this was drunk while listening to Epic Beard men’s new album “This Was Supposed To Be Fun”. Needs a more detailed listen, but sound like they are on point again with some very cutting and political raps.

Game Of Thrones: House Baratheon: Royal Lochnagar 12 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Apricot skin to gold. Fast, thick streaks.

Nose: Honeyed shreddies. Apples. Pears. Light menthol. Heather. Vanilla. Pencil shavings. Water makes for predominantly light apples.

Body: Honey. Vanilla. Apples. Moderate warming alcohol. Smooth mouthfeel. Strawberry. Light cream. Malt chocolate. Water makes soft apples and vanilla toffee.

Finish: Honey. Lemon cakes. Shredded wheat. Strawberry. Slight drying alcohol. Soft apples. Malt chocolate. Water adds choc toffee. Soft apples. White chocolate and lightly nutty notes.

Conclusion: This is good at giving pleasing first impression. Very good. It is smooth, sweet, with fairly standard honey and vanilla notes soothed out by more interesting apple and strawberry fresh notes. Combine that with low alcohol burn – the alcohol is present but mainly just warming – and a solid malt chocolate body and you have a lot to enjoy already and this is just on first sip.

It is a whisky very much intent on setting you at ease. You don’t even have to work for those initial notes, they are just there easing out of the smooth but filling mouthfeel of the spirit. Because of that I was not sure if water was even needed, so I was wary and well.. it definitely changes with water, I’ll say that.

The body lightens, emphasising the vanilla toffee notes, but more than that the soft apples notes are now so very clear. With water it becomes one of the easiest whiskies to give to a newcomer for them to be able to see the lighter subtleties that you can get from a spirit.

However, with that said, in a rarity for me , I prefer this neat. All the same notes are still there, just with a bit more force , bigger mouthfeel and more honeyed style. It is just as easy to examine, you just need to let it sit and seep for a few moments and there it is. So easy to examine – so will just be a manner of preference for water, but will never need much.

This is a wonderful spirit, easy to drink, rewarding and with good range. Why this distillery isn’t better known in the UK I have no idea. A hidden gem, now given a bit more exposure that it deserves.

Background: Game Of Thrones! Ok, I’m a tad behind on the show. By which I mean I am up to where the books end. Please no spoilers. Anyway, Game Of Thrones themed whisky amused me, especially as six of the 8 bottlings are new expressions. Turns out this is one of the two that are not. It is exactly the same as the standard Royal Lochnagar 12 but with new packaging. Ah well. Never tried any Royal Lochnagar before, which is why this is one of the ones I grabbed, so no harm no foul there. I had just found out about the passing of Keith Flint from Prodigy, so put on Fat Of The Land in his memory. Bloody awesome tunes. Not much else to add, another one got in by Independent Spirit.

Lagavulin: Feis Ile 2018: 18 Year ( Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 53.9% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Slow thin streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Smoke. Peat. Soft champagne. White grapes. Beef broth. Cherry pocked digestives. Dry black liquorice smoke. Burnt rubber. Salt touch. Menthol liqueur. Sulphur. Water adds very light aniseed. Slightly more evident alcohol. Dry white grapes.

Body: Smooth. Dry. White wine. Light white chocolate. Oaken. Water adds cake sponge. Smoke. Soft lime. Dried beef and beef crisp dusting. More white chocolate. Toffee. Soft cherry.

Finish: Dry oak. Smoke. Alcohol air. Dried beef. Champagne. White grapes. Water adds pepper. Vanilla. Thai seven spice. Malt toffee. Cherry pocked biscuits. Beef crisp dust. White chocolate. More water adds vanilla and soft apricot.

Conclusion: Ok, let us start with how this is different to my usual Lagavulin expectation, via what those expectations are. So, my expectations for Lagavulin are that it will be big, meaty, peaty, weighty and complex.

This is drier, but does not feel lighter with that. Instead it emphasises what taste more like white wine, clean notes. Instead of heavy peat it feels more the dry smoke side of things, similarly dried meat instead of chewy slabs. There is room for subtle fruit notes to come out. It is still Lagavulin but restrained in how it punches out the notes. Still Islay, still big, but the heavier Islay meaty, medicinal, peat and salt notes feel calmed compared to the younger 16 year. It is a take that took me a short while to get used to.

Without water it suffers from being too much on the dry side, which alongside the ..ok, not lighter …brighter? Cleaner? Any which way, the different flavours seem to suffer in the higher alcohol environment. Ok, but overly oaken and the dryness makes it seem harsh.

So, yes, water play is definitely needed for this one. With water the smoke is still less peaty, and the beef still is dry, but the white wine notes rise to become slightly yeasty Belgian beer influenced and fuller champagne notes. The other elements have more room to roam and softer, with subtle red fruit coming out around the edges.

Grapes and soft fruit, across light salt hints now match the dry, smoke, dried meet and champagne. Still Lagavulin but a fascinating different take. Fascinating thought it is, I will have to admit. Lagavulin 16 and Distillers Edition are both better and cheaper. Then again those two whiskies are masterclasses in how to do a good Islay. This feels like an interesting alternate universe take. So, get the 16 and Distillers Edition first, if they are to your taste, and you have money to spare, this is an interesting one.

I love seeing what can be done with the spirit in this one, but it just makes it different, definitely not better. That is not to say this is bad – I have yet to encounter a bad whisky from this distillery – but it is not up with their usual amazing high quality. Still a fun one to dissect.

Background: I fought with myself so much over if I should get this. I genuinely love Lagavulin. Probably my favourite distillery, and one that has a relevantly restrained number of releases. Thus, a nice 18 year old release, especial a limited release that I would normally have to travel to the Feis Ile Islay festival to get, caught my eye. On the other hand it was just a tad expensive for an 18 year of whisky, mainly due to people having to head to Islay for that festival to grab it. As you can tell I eventually weakened and bought it. Otherwise this set of tasting notes would be admission of stealing. Grabbed from Independent Spirit ,this has been aged in Refill American oak hogsheads, Rejuvenated American Oak hogsheads and Bodega European Oak butts. This is bottle 4199 of 6000 bottles. I put on Akala – Knowledge Is Power 2 while drinking. I freaking love Akala, such a wordsmith and cutting in his political critique in his raps.

Brora: Silent Stills: 18 Year (Scotland Highland Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 52.9% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Very slow puckering forms into thin streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Crushed rocks. Mild smoke and soot. Planed red wood. Lime hints. Barley. Water adds more rocks and grit. Soft apricot. More water keeps roughly the same.

Body: Light front. Lemon and vanilla. Subtle smoke. Slight salted rocks. Alcohol warms over time. Lemon cakes and lemon curd. Brown sugar. Honey. Water adds more honey. Apricot. More noticeable alcohol. Thick American pancakes. More water. Buttered crumpets. Raisins and plums.

Finish: Honey. Crushed rocks. Soot. Lime touch. Maple syrup touch. Brown sugar. Lemon cakes. Vanilla. Water adds American pancakes and malt chocolate. More water – crumpets. Raisins. Red wine.

Conclusion: Very different first impression on this to anything I expected. Gentle, definitely not showing the cask strength level alcohol, but with crushed rocks and smoke. The aroma especially seemed full of those wood and rock notes that made me a tad worried this would be a rough tasting experience. However first sip was very smooth, with light sweet notes and that rocky character a backing solid character as it should be.

Now I know Brora is generally peated, so was expecting a heavier influence from that than what I found here. Instead I get just a smoke wisp, present but gentle wafting though the sweeter main character of lemon cakes and vanilla. It very much shows the sweet Highland home here with honey and brown sugar weight to the spirit. It is well aged though, even neat the 50% abv is smoother than it has any right to be, only becoming noticeable if held on the tongue for a while. In fact it is so well balanced in alcohol weight that I was hesitant to add water to it for a while lest I ruin it.

I was then unsure again just after adding the water. The aroma became even grittier, and the body had a bit more alcohol evident. However with that it did open up to bring brighter fruit notes and an American style pancake feel. So, after a moment of examination I decided, maybe it had just started its journey of change? Maybe a touch more water was needed?

More water did settle the alcohol down again, and have a thick, bready, crumpet and thick pancake kind of feel, all backed by that understated smoke. Here I can wholeheartedly say that it is very good. Highland weight and sweetness, subtle smoke, slight citrus notes and so incredibly smooth for the abv. That is some aged cask strength spirit used well. No fancy unusual barrel ageing used here – it just lets the spirit itself show itself at the best with the oak adding everything it needs.

In fact, here in its final moments I find more sherry barrel like ageing notes coming out – dark fruit and red wine adding yet another layer to this. It really made wish I had a bit more of this so I could explore where it was going – hints of much more dark fruit to come. Unfortunately I cannot afford more, even if I could find it.

So, on that, is it worth the high very cost? Probably not. Probably nothing is worth the cost that super rare whisky like Brora goes for now. However it is very good indeed. Wonderful in fact. If this went for the kind of cost a premium 18 year old whisky would go for from a living distillery, even the high end of that, I would recommend it without hesitation. One of the best Highland whiskies I have had – so smooth, so complex and the smoke wisp just adds that extra touch.

Downsides? The aroma really does not show it at its best. Everything else is so very good. Just, ya know, damn, that steep cost.

Background: Two thousand tasting notes! WOO! I made it with my liver vaguely intact! I had been keeping this one back for a while, knowing that full bottles of Brora – a distillery that has been dead since 1983 – go for insane amounts of money – part rarity, part the 30 year plus age any new releases are now. So, when I found a miniature at The Whisky Exchange at 18 years, and so vaguely within my price range, I grabbed it and held on for the right moment. This seemed just right for a big two thousand celebration. Previously called Clynelish, the distillery was renamed to Brora when the newly referred to Clynelish distillery came online in 1968. As far as I am aware it is a lightly peated whisky. It is worth noting there is talk of reopening Brora – I don’t know how much of the original stills are still intact so have no idea if the new spirit will be similar, or just cashing in on the name. This mini is bottle 33 of 294, and was distilled n 1983 and bottled in 2001 so I consider it very lucky that it was still around to be grabbed. Wanted some beautiful music to go with the big 2K tasting note so went with the Ulver: Shadow Of The Sun album. Still a haunting masterpiece.

The GlenAllachie: Cask Strength: Batch 2: 10 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 54.8% ABV)

Visual: Bright gold. Spirit comes down in a slow, solid sheet across the edges of the glass.

Nose: Brown sugar. Alcohol warmth. Golden syrup. Blueberry crumble. Stewed apricot. Madeira cake. Custard. White sugar dusting. Water smooths. Adds Calvados and apply jelly.

Body: Smooth front into an alcohol burn. Apple pies. Dry honey. Water adds custard notes and smooths. Adds lots more apple. Still some alcohol evident. More water adds Calvados. Strawberry jam. Madeira. Pinot Noir.

Finish: Numbing alcohol. Sour dough. Oak chips. Dry. Apples. Water adds raisins. Strawberry jam. Blueberry. More water adds Calvados and sulphur.

Conclusion: Ok, two big things to address here. One there is lots of barrel ageing influence in this. Like … tons. Dark fruit in blueberry and strawberry jam style, lighter sweetness, wine notes. Lots going on. Second thing – there is a lot of apple in here, from apple jelly to Calvados, to everything in-between.

Oh, wait, I missed one. Three – the alcohol in this thing is immense! Not surprising as it is over 50% abv, but taken neat this goes from tasty to burning pretty fast. It means that you only really get the edge of the flavour profile before your tongue gets numbed. The first few seconds are surprisingly smooth, then the potent alcohol booms. Definitely experiment with water for this one.

So, as you may have guessed, taken neat it is just a bit too booming, going into a dry and oaken finish. Water however really brings out the range of the experience.

As indicated before, there is a lot going on. The barrel ageing brings many spirity notes – Madeira being the most notable, more red wine notes come out as you add more water – now smoothed out by more vanilla and custard notes which I’m guessing are from the bourbon and virgin oak. No idea where the apple comes from – maybe the base spirit? – but it becomes more and more evident the more water you add and really is the backbone of this varied spirit.

It is complex, but very barrel ageing led – I like the apple character of the (maybe) base spirit, but there are also slight sulphur, slight muggy notes and rough edges. It feels slightly like it is relying on the barrel ageing to override the existing rough edges.

Still, despite that it is a tasty experience, with lots going on – so as an examination of the oak influence this is very good, but it has a a few off notes under its charms.

Background: Time to try a distillery I have not tried before! Wooo! Though is it just me or does GlenAllachie sound like one of those knock offs where they try and mash two famous whiskeys together to fool you – like if you saw a bottle of Jim Daniels or something. Possibly just me. Anyway, grabbed this from the whisky exchange. The cask strength grabbed me eye as it would give more room to experiment with water and see what it could do. It has been aged in a mix of PX and oloroso sherry, first fill bourbon and virgin oak casks. That also caught my attention I have to admit, that is some sweet barrel ageing going on there. Not much else to add – put on some Mclusky to listen to while drinking, music as varied and mixed up as that barrel ageing selection.

Glencadam 21 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 21 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold.

Nose: Cherries. Brandy cream. Sherry soaked sponge to trifle. Pencil shavings. Custard slices. Water makes little difference.

Body: Thick. Honey. Raisins. Very clear sherry. Soft lime. Sweet lemon. Slight alcohol. Oak. Water brings more raisins. Vanilla fudge. Red grapes.

Finish: Raisins. Creamy lime. Dry oak. Malt chocolate. Fruitcake. Water adds red wine. Dry sherry. Dry spice. White grapes. Mildly waxy.

Conclusion: This is very sherry dominated. Very red wine heavy. Very fruitcake solid body. So the first thing to get out of that way, does that idea appeal to you? If not that this is not the one for you.

Still with me? Cool, let’s dig deeper then. Initial impressions is very sherry trifle, and wine soaked fruitcake. Very much heavy, sweet desserts that are appropriate to this winter season. Surprisingly, even at a nice 21 years of age, this still has a touch of alcohol character present. Nothing too bad, probably just a sign of the touch higher than normal 46% abv. Thankfully a touch of water clears that up nicely without hurting any other element of the whisky.

It is a tad simple without the water. It is nice, and big in the flavour but slightly closed. Water helps round it out as dry spice grows out adding more savoury elements around the sweetness. The sweetness also spread out with red wine and a mix of red and white grapes that provide extra elements over the stodgy fruitcake middle.

Now admittedly none of this is new to the whisky world, nor unusual. The base whisky provides the weight and a mildly waxy feel in the finish. But generally most of the character here seems to come from the sherry ageing.

It is very enjoyable, very solid, with Highland weight meeting sherried flavour. Nothing is unsual, but no complaints, and no off notes evident from the spirit – so a good job if not stand out.

Background: Only tried Glencadam once before, that was initially weak but had my attention by the end. So when I saw an aged 21 year version in minis at Independent Spirit I thought it would be nice to give it a go. Not much else to add on this one – Had just grabbed Miracle of Sound’s “Level 9” album from bandcamp – a very varied in style bunch of video game themed songs – so put that on while drinking. Goes from light pop punk to moody epics, so at least one song would probably match the whisky!

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