Caperdonich 39, 1977-2017, 50.4% – Cadenhead’s 175th Anniversary

Well, there’s no mistaking this being from a sherry cask. It’s a butt too, so a more proper sherry cask as well. No information about the kind of oak is given though.

Last year Cadenhead’s, the rather awesome bottler of liquid gold, celebrated their 175th anniversary. With it came a plethora of interesting bottlings, of which I obtained exactly none. I tried to do a bottle share with the bottles that came to the Netherlands, but they were sooooo expensive by then, that I passed.

The biggest problem for/with Cadenhead’s is that they are really expensive outside of the UK. This one went for, I believe, 360 quid in the UK, which translated to some 400 euros back then. In The Netherlands it went for 700 euros. A difference too big to overcome, for several reasons.

Anyway, I managed to get my hands on a sample of this thanks to a UK based bottle share club I’m in. And, now that it’s all gone, I am sooooo happy I got my hands on a sample.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
The nose starts with very smooth and fruity sherry. Lots of oak, but in a way that it supports the other aromas instead of trying to trump them. There’s dates and figs, with some dry sherry. Cold brew coffee with steamed milk. Somehow it also reminds me of St. George’s NOLA Coffee Liqueur. Slightly foresty with moss and ferns. Plums and peaches later on.

Sip:
The palate is slightly tingling, so it suggests a bit more alcohol than I’d expect at 39 years old (no ABV on the sample bottle and I didn’t look it up). Dry, warming and gently oaky. Hints of dry spices and a very light bitterness. Sweet citrus with blood orange, sherry and loads of other fruits, mostly dates and peaches.

Swallow:
The finish starts with a full and intense hit of sherry, with loads of fruit. A slight bitterness, with oaky and foresty notes. Very complex and long with plums, dates and figs.

To summarize: If I had properly reviewed this last year, it would have been my whisky of the year.

I’m still trying to find my way with ratings, especially in the 84-88 zone, but apparently that also goes for the 91 and up area of whisky points. This, however, sits at a comfortable 94 points for me, without a shadow of a doubt. What a stunning whisky.

The complexity is stunning. The depth and layeredness (a parfait, not an onion, for you Shrek lovers) is stunning. The combination of the sherry and the forest like notes remind me of (although not quite similar) the best Karuizawa and sherried Hakushu whiskies I’ve had. It’s amazing, believe me.

94/100

Caperdonich 39, 1977-2017, 50.4%, Cadenhead’s 175th Anniversary. Available in Denmark for 675 euros, if you manage to get one.

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Clynelish 1997-2017, 55.8% – Archives (Fishes of Samoa)

This was THE bottling for The Whiskybase Gathering last November. For some reason I decided not to go in 2016, the first time it was held. I decided to correct that last November and had a blast. The festival itself is insane and I heard numerous references to “Limburg an der Maas”.

Before the festival started you could get your hands on a bottle, if you were keen on carrying it around all afternoon, which I didn’t mind. Luckily so, since they sold out very quickly and I heard some people missing out on a bottle during the festival. Maybe they were able to get their hands on one after, since the proprietors of Whiskybase held a few back for in the shop on the following Monday.

Anyway… Clynelish. 1997. Cask strength. What can go wrong?

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
It’s waxy Clynelish from the moment you pour a glass. No intense sniffing required to get that note! Lots of caramel too, but also peaches and nectarine. Honey and beeswax. A rather creamy Clynelish, with the caramel it reminds me of Caramac bars.

Sip:
The palate is rather sharp, and a lot more crisp than the nose made me expect. Both fresh and stewed apple. Some dryness from the cask, with resin and beeswax. Rich and full.

Swallow:
The finish is dry at first, but the richness takes over after. More oak than before, and more like the nose in regards to there being quite a lot of caramel, with grilled peaches.

Well, apparenlty not a lot can go wrong with 1997 Clynelish. When the 1996 and 1997 vintages started coming out a few years ago, you sometimes found one that was just a lot of oomph with not enough mellowing, and flavor from the cask to back it all up. That period seems to have passed and this one is glorious.

If you like Clynelish, this does everything you want it to do. The only remark I have with this, and that’s not even really about this one, is that The Ultimate put out a 1997 one in the same month that cost less than half of this one, which is a bit peculiar.

But, I doubt it is as good as this, because not much is. Insanely tasty. I wish I hadn’t bottle shared it!

90/100

Clynelish 1997-2017, Bourbon Hogshead 12355, 55.8%, Archives – Fishes of Samoa

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Springbank Local Bere Barley 11yo, 53.1%

I’m a tad late in reviewing this, about a year or so. This 11 year old Local Barley release is Springbank’s second release of the five promised bottlings. The first being the 16 year old and the third is a 10 year old that came out in December.

The most identifying about this whisky is that it’s made with Bere barley. Bere is an ancient species of barley. Bere is old type of barley that was supposedly brought to Scotland by the Vikings. The word is old Scots for barley and is a type that grows in a short season of long days of sunlight, which makes it acclimated to the north of Scotland. Currently it is only grown on Orkney, Caithness and some other locations.

It is no longer used often, since the barley only has a low sugar yield, and therefore alcohol yield. Also, newer strains are much more drought and disease restistant, which makes it far more profitable to grow different strains.

The last couple of years it has experienced some sort of revival with the immense boom in whisky popularity, and the distilleries’ search to stand out from the crowd. Arran, Bruichladdich and Springbank have all released some Bere barley whiskies.

Anyway, this is Springbank’s edition. I expect there will be some more in the not too distant future. Of course, because of the gimmicky-ness of the whisky, it wasn’t cheap. Currently, it is somehow still available for some 125 euros.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
On the nose the barley gets a lot of attention, with some malt sugar too. Quite grain whisky like, to be honest, but with more depth, especially considering the age. It’s quite crisp, with a ‘snow’ like scent. Some apple chutney, coconut and pear peels. After a while I get a whiff of vanilla custard and sawdust.

Sip:
The palate is dry and rather intense. Tingling, with hints of oak and apple, some grain whisky likeness again. Slightly oily, like olive oil and a tinge of salt.

Swallow:
The finish mellows quickly, but stays rather rich. It’s crisp and dry, with lots of grain, apple and oak. Lightly spicy with a whiff of coconut.

Well, someone who says that the barley is of minor influence on the flavor of the whisky is an idiot. This is so different from any other Springbank that has come out over the years, it’s ridiculous. What I also find interesting is that this single malt of 11 years old tastes like a 25 year old Grain whisky, but with slightly more depth and dimensions.

This, of course, means I really like it. I do prefer the heavier style of Springbank found in the other Local Barley releases, but this is far from bad too. And an interesting diversion from what they normally do.

Having said that, if you keep in mind that the 10 year old from December is more or less the same price as this 11 year old, I would suggest going for the 10 year old. I find that a more impressive and memorable whisky than this. But, as said, this ain’t bad either.

87/100

Springbank Local Bere Barley 11yo, 53.1%, available at The Old Pipe for € 124,95

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Springbank 100 Proof, 10yo, 57% – OB for Gall & Gall

A little while ago a friend of mine bottle shared his bottle of this old Springbank 100 Proof. It was bottled in 2005 for the Dutch market, and more specifically for Dutch bottle shop chain Gall & Gall. As far as I know Gall & Gall has focused more and more on the big brands over the years and has far less specific whiskies like this. At least, I can’t for the life of me remember when I ever saw something interesting and fairly priced in this chain of shops.

Anyway, it was a nice bottle share and I thought it smart to get my hands on a sample so I could continue my (slightly broken) series of Springbank reviews. I know I loved the old Springbank 100 Proofs, which are now replaced by the equally lovely (albeit slightly different) Springbank 12 Cask Strength series.

Springbank

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
The nose is rather strong and very ‘old fashioned’. It focuses on old barley, hay and some flint. There’s a whiff of smoke that comes off as slightly industrial. A rather pungent dram, but in a very good way.

Sip:
The palate is dry and rough. Almost gritty, with hints of malt sugar, oak and some heat from the alcohol. Barley, flint, apple and hay.

Swallow:
The finish has a note of apple peels, with oak and barley. It’s rather rich and well balanced. Very classical.

I am a bit of a Springbank fanboy, although far from the biggest fan out there. This is the kind of Springbank that made me fall in love with the brand a decade ago. It’s strong, no nonsense whisky, with a very classical approach to it. By that I mean it’s not an ‘engineered’ whisky, or one with fancy usage of casks. It showcases Springbank as a working museum, more or less.

It’s a highly enjoyable dram, and one that I wouldn’t mind having more of. However, this being bottled over a decade ago, you’re not going to find this outside of auctions or the secondary market. According to Whiskybase, this is going for about € 165, but that price might be outdated.

88/100

Springbank 100 Proof, 10yo, bottled in 2005, 57%, OB for Gall & Gall.

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Kilchoman 2007, 10yo, Sherry cask, 58.5% – The Whisky Exchange Exclusive

The first non-Springbank review of the year! I’ve not been blogging as much as I’d like, but let’s just hope to remedy that soon.

Earlier this week I got a package from The Whisky Exchange containing a sample of this new Kilchoman, exclusively bottled for them. It’s a 10 year old sherry matured Kilchoman, from a single butt (there’s 600 bottles, so it must be a butt, right?).

Generally, Kilchoman from either a sherry or bourbon cask is amazing, and this one has a rather decent age to it, especially for a Kilchoman. Based on Whiskybase, I can only find one 11 year old, but everything else is much younger. So one of the older Kilchomans, from a sherry butt, at cask strength. From one of the more trustworthy bottlers (by that I mean, their general level of quality if very good).

bottle-aaSniff:
There’s quite a lot of smoke at first, with the smoke being slightly fatty and barbecue like. Charred bacon. Some oloroso sherry (I think it’s oloroso, at least), with peach. It’s also rather coastal. Salty, briny and even slightly fishy. Barbecued fish, maybe?

Sip:
The palate is on the sharp side, which isn’t strange with the ABV over 58%. Again, the barbecue smoke is persent, with some oak in the background. Peach, tar, hemp rope and a lot of sherry. In the background of this all, there’s a slightly creamy mouthfeel (after you’ve gotten used to the high ABV).

Swallow:
The finish sticks to the smoke notes for a long time, but is slightly more earhty than before. Warming, with barbecue and the bark you get on good ribs. A long finish, with fruity sherry and slightly drying hints of coastal/harbor flavors (tar and rope and salt).

Well, this is good. Very, very good. An absolutely gorgeous Kilchoman with lots of interesting notes. The coastal notes and the rather peaty character of the spirit combine very well with the fruity intensity of the sherry cask. It’s a very ballsy whisky with a lot of punchy flavors, at a high ABV, so it might not be for everyone, but I sure love it!

It’s currently available at The Whisky Exchange for £125, which seems fair for a whisky of this caliber, in the current market.

89/100

Kilchoman 2007, 10yo, Sherry butt 401/2007, 58.5%, The Whisky Exchange Exclusive.

Thanks to TWE for sending a sample!

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Springbank 21, 1995-2016, Sherry cask, port pipe finish, 48% – Starkicker, Austria

I alerted a friend of mine in Austria about these bottlings that I randomly spotted on Facebook, and he was kind enough to bottle share them (Thanks again, DSA!).

With a 21 year old Springbank that’s been matured in a fresh sherry cask, only to be finished in a port pipe, I think the word random is apt. I can’t imagine why someone would do that unless either the cask was utterly shit, or they’d have so much 21 year old Springbank on hands that it got boring.

I guess the first one is more likely.

So, a 21 year old Springbank bottled as a private release for a club (I guess) in Austria. Only seventy bottles were released and when it came out, this was a rather affordable Springbank 21. Now let’s find out why…

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
It’s very heavy on the nose with a bit more sharpness than a 48%, 21 year old made me expect. Stewed strawberries and jam, some ash and the earthiness of dunnage warehouses. It gets more hints of warm porridge as it opens up.

Sip:
The palate starts rather peppery with a lot more heat than I thought there’d be. It’s quite sweet and woody. Lots of the warm and slightly funky tawny port flavors. Very earthy and moldy. Stewed red fruits, but also dried apricots and sugar syrup.

Swallow:
The finish is still quite intense, but more in a warming way than it’s sharp. Licorice, dried fruits, leather and tawny port. Also, that dunnage warehouse again.

My thoughts are that this was not necessarily a bad cask, but just a very weird one. Maybe the guys who bottled it thought it would be more logical to make it a truly weird one to mask the not-so-good sherry cask. Maybe…

Anyway, it’s not the best Sprinbank 21 I ever had. It’s not the best Springbank I’ve had this year. It’s quite decent though, although I’m happy I had ten centiliters, and not a whole bottle. I would finish it, but not in an overly enthusiastic way.

85/100

Springbank 21, 1995-2016, Fresh sherry matured, port pipe finish, 48%, Starkicker, Austria. Still available in Austria for 245 euros.

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Happy New Year! (?)

I’ve been putting this post off for almost three weeks now. Mostly because I’ve had no idea what to write about this time around. Maybe I should start by reflecting a bit on 2017. A year with big ups and big downs, but those are on a rather personal level, so I’ll not bore you with those.

On January 1st, 2017, I did write a post like this too, and I made some minor plans that are quite funny to read back a year and a bit later:

Of the last bottle share I did with Mezcal, I’ve not tried any drinks yet.

Still the same. I’ve had one glass of Mezcal in the past 12 months, I guess. I like the stuff but, as you might be able to tell from me not drinking it, not as much as I like whisky.

I do think I’ve downsized my sample collection a little bit, which is a good thing. Some had been sitting there for ages, and should have been drunk years ago. Because of our third kid being born in May we had to shuffle rooms and occupation of them in our house. This resulted in me having a wee room for my whisky and other hobby and putting all samples on a shelf instead of in boxes. I even found a sample of Port Ellen and a Brora! I completely forgot I had those…

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Since the summer of 2016 I’ve restarted playing Magic: The Gathering and that’s been picking up a bit of steam in 2017 too. Since that happened I am dividing attention between whisky and that a little bit. This results in me not spending as much on whisky and not spending as much attention on whisky either. The not spending attention has gotten me out of the loop of some releases and events, but since there’s stuff happening on a daily basis I don’t think I really mind.

Another realization I made in 2017 is that I’m spending too much money on beer (yet again). I really love beer, but with a bottle being drunk in one go, it is a hobby just as expensive as whisky. This results in one of my few New Year’s Resolutions: buy less beer.

I checked my Untappd profile and found that I have had 400 unique NEW beers in 2017. That means I spent a couple of bucks on a bottle of beer every single day of the year, and then some. With the amount of beer I still have lying around and the amount of whisky that I plan to taste/drink, this is quite ridiculous, so I’ve set a goal of not having more than 250 this year. That should make quite a difference, I think.

To summarize all of the ramblings above, what I’m going to try and do in 2018 is experience more and spend less. I’ve got a boat load of whisky, beer and other booze. Let’s try to go through that a bit more before I start spending on more of the same all the time. Finishing bottles from my shelves. Opening what I already have instead of buying new. Actually checking which beers are good for drinking that I’ve been storing in our crawl space for a while. Things like that.

Oh, and go to Scotland a few times. I can’t wait for April!

Some other findings from 2017:

  • BrewDog’s Lone Wolf products are a deception, so far.
  • I don’t like Sake
  • The Whiskybase Gathering is awesome
  • I should spend more time in Scotland for the country
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