Blind Tasting Competition 15: Bladnoch 21yo, 1992-2004, 54.9% – Cadenhead Small Batch

And so the free call commences again.

Bladnoch 21. Image from Whiskybase

Bladnoch 21. Image from Whiskybase

This starts with grassy and floral notes, in a way that makes me think of Islay more than the Lowlands. Quite light and watery, but that might also be volatility. I’ve been known to mistake those two (and everything else, my score tells me). A light cheesy note, with some skin milk too. Slowly, more alcohol is being released with its typically sweet scent. Maybe some grappa like scents?

The palate is beyond sharp. Really hot with alcohol. Very light and thin behind it and slightly earthy tones. A bit like dried mud and sand. Also, ‘muddy’ tracks, with grass and moss and old leaves. But still in a light and slightly grassy way. Wild flowers like poppies. There is a hint of vanilla but it’s not overpowering the spirit. A very spirit driven dram, I think.

The finish quickly mellows, which brings me back to that volatility. It does warm the innards nicely though. A slightly challenging dram, but in a good way. Warming, floral and grassy.

If one thing comes to mind when I taste this is Caol Ila Unpeated. I’ll be comparing this in a second, but that is something that I remember tasting like this. I quite like it, I have to say. The earthy notes indicate some peated water being used. I think I am also getting a light hint of salt and sand, and the initial milky notes all point me in the direction of the Port Askaig distillery.

The dram itself, I quite like it. It’ll never be world changing, but a nice enough diversion from the regular blast of peat they produce. The ABV is ridiculously high, based on flavor and the fact that the legs in the glass don’t move at all. The beads last very long too, so all indicators that I am at least slightly correct.

Of course, you’ll see that this is some weird Bladnoch bottling that I didn’t see coming, but what the heck…

About that comparison. My bottle is only one of the editions of course and I am discounting the European Oak cask right off the bat. I have the 10 year old and it does smell rather similar. Some minor differences but it strengthens my belief in this dram. Luckily yesterday wasn’t an Islay dram because I would have had no idea today.

I should, of course, have gone with the Bladnoch. That was my only viable second guess, and it turned out to be true. In a way, that means I’ve been closer to getting some points than I’ve been for a long time. On the other hand, that doesn’t get my anywhere.

This does teach me a few things though. The first is that I shouldn’t buy expensive old Bladnochs, since for about 70% of the money you can get a whisky that tastes more or less exactly the same. I even compared this day’s dram with my bottle of Unpeated Caol Ila and was more convinced that I was in the right direction.

Again, bummer. Although bummer doesn’t cover the disappointment I’m feeling with my tasting capabilities right now.

Bladnoch 21yo, 1992-2004, 54.9%, Cadenhead Small Batch. Available in Germany for € 95


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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