Epris 15yo 1999/2014 (45.4%, Cadenhead, Column Still, BMC, Brazil)

So Brazilian Rum eh? Is there such a thing? Sure, Rum made in Brazil, or is this maybe a Cachaça? What is Cachaça? Cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice that is fermented and distilled. Hmmm, isn’t that the same as Rhum Agricole? Yes it is similar, just made in a different part of the world. There is a major difference though. When Rhum Agricole is aged it is aged in Oak. Cachaça can be aged in any type of (native) wood allowing for more diverse aroma’s. Adding even more difference to the aromas of Cachaça, is that fermentation is done with wild yeast cells as opposed to single, highly controlled yeast strains used elsewhere in the Rum industry. Every Rum producer has their own specific strains, so to me there seems to be more adventure to Cachaça.

The (huge) Epris distillery is located in São Roque near São Paulo, Brazil. Back in 1999 the distillery made Rum for Bacardi and other types of alcoholic beverages. Well informed sources tell me Epris never made a true Cachaça, nor does the label mention the word. So the Epris distillate we have here is a Rum made from fresh cane juice, probably not adhering completely to the production methods and rules for Cachaça. So maybe close to, but not a true Cachaça. We also know this distillate is made in a column still. Today Epris doesn’t do “Rum” anymore. Today they focus on making fermented rice and Sake! Who would have thought. Brazil!

Color: White Wine.

Nose: Clean and elegant. Grass and hay. Powdery and green, mixed in with some vanilla. Some sweetness with nice wood influences. Distant red fruits, yet well in the back. Hints of pencil shavings and bamboo. Cane juice. Vegetal. Slightly perfumy but also whiffs of a more sweaty kind, pass by. Mocha and vanilla. Medium fresh on top. I’m sure I’m not objective here, but I think I smell some cooked brown rice now! Tea with sugar. Clean and very soft. Spicy with a tiny hint of smoke (toasted cask). yes, cold black tea. Leafy. Smelling this, it seems to me this isn’t made from molasses. In a way it is a bit simple. I have this in my glass for a while now, but I don’t get a lot of development (yet). I guess this may very well need a whole lot of air, and this is a freshly opened bottle I have here. Already quite appealing though.

Taste: Semi sweet, sugar, caramel and toffee. Very friendly and soft. A bit light, thin and simple. Small bitter edge, with some yellow sugared fruits. Greenish, vegetal and grassy, but in no way does this resemble a Rhum Agricole. Maybe it is somewhat closer to a diluted Rum or Arrack (we’ll get to that quite soon actually, stay tuned). Flavoured tea with some sugar-water. Medium finish with sometimes some peppermint. Alcoholic at times. Whiffs of (vanilla) Wodka. Not very active casks if you ask me. Not a lot stays around for the aftertaste, but also no off-notes. Easy to drink, and definitely growing on me.

I love this series of Cadenheads Rums, but in a way this particular one starts out a bit as a disappointment. I’ve tasted many others from this series that were stellar, this one just is too simple, and in no way would I have thought this has aged for 15 years. Not very adventurous, so probably not a Cachaça made with wild (boys) yeast and aged in a funky wood type cask. Here the beauty lies in the details. Enjoyable and definitely worth my money. I wouldn’t buy a second one just yet, but you should buy your first one, just like me, because it is different from the rest and it’s definitely enjoyable. Having said all this, the Epris does start to grow on me, so it may very well get better with time, air and some care.

Points: 83

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Cragganmore 14yo 1989/2003 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, Sherrywood, 696 bottles)

Early on in my “Whisky career” I used to be a “regular” at one of the few Cadenhead Shops that were around. Amsterdam had one of the first shops outside of Scotland. I tried quite a few Cadenhead bottlings in those days and bought maybe even more, so i still have quite a few of those older bottlings. However, almost all the Cadenhead bottlings I brought home were cask strength versions, called Authentic Collection. At the same time Cadenhead bottled part of the same cask at 46% ABV, calling it the “Original Collection”, although I suspect, sometimes the whole cask was reduced and bottled at 46%. I’m not sure if there exists a cask strength version of this Cragganmore. I .have to admit I hardly own an “Original Collection” bottling (if any). Cragganmore of course is one of the Diageo Distilleries, and is represented in the Classic Malts range. Since Diageo hugely promotes these Malts, it is always nice to compare that to one of the independent bottlings. I’ve already reviewed some of them on these pages. The 12yo, the 1988 Distillers Edition and the 29yo Special Edition. I also had a great 1993 Sherried Cragganmore, bottled by Duncan Taylor. Lets see how this 1989 Cadenheads offering will do.

Cragganmore Cadenhead 1989/2003Color: Copper gold.

Nose: Rich and sweet. Fruity. Waxy apple skin. Funky raisins and cherry water. The initial fruity acidity is quite thin so after a while you don’t small it anymore. IF you use a lid for a while the acidity gets concentrated and is noticeable again. Without this acidity, this is a dark and brooding offering. A bit goth I would say. Damp earth and slightly rotting leaves n the forest floor. Smells quite sweet and underneath there is quite some vanilla as well. Dusty and notes of dull wet wood mixed in with toffee and caramel. Quite aromatic but at the same time sweet and syrupy. A two-faced puppy this is. Put a lid on it and its more fruity and acidic, let it breathe and it becomes more brooding. Very interesting.

Taste: Almond and toffee sweetness (which dissipates quickly). Short licorice attack. Apple skins and apple aroma’s more akin to Calvados. Very nutty (Sherry) this is. Probably a Sherry that aged under flor, so not from our usual Oloroso and PX casks. No, this is more Fino or Amontillado. Wine people believe this is Sherry royalty, much better than Oloroso and PX, which are the most popular casks for ageing Whisky these days. Just check out the bottlings of Glendronach. Having said that it, obviously doesn’t automatically mean the Whisky is better off as well. Quite some wood, with a slight bitter edge, but also vegetal bitterness, like you get from biting fresh leaves. Strange? Get out of your chair then and spend some more time in nature! The finish isn’t as long as expected and the aftertaste is quite anonymous as well.

Personally, I find Fino Sherry casks can produce very nice, but different Whiskies. For me it was something I had to grow into, and I guess I’m not finished growing just yet. I really do recognize the quality of the result, but it somehow is not something that like right off the bat. It needs some work. On the other side, I believe, this profile suits a nice Cuban cigar, if you pick the right one for it.

Points: 82

Cadenhead Demerara Rum 12yo (46%, Green Label, Laphroaig Cask Finish, Guyana)

First of all I’d like to start telling you that this review won’t be about the Cadenhead 15yo Demerara Rum that’s in the picture. It’s actually about the Cadenhead 12yo Demerara Rum, and not just any 12yo, but one that was finished in an ex-Laphroaig cask. Laphroaig being one of the most famous of peated Islay Whiskies. Of course Ardbeg and Lagavulin are equally as famous, but that’s beside the point. I couldn’t find a suitable picture of the bottle (I don’t have it here), so I put in this one, since it looks pretty similar. The 12yo has an additional sticker over the neck and cork, starting this is from an ex-Laphroaig cask. The 12yo Rum is even lighter in color, than that of the 15yo in the picture. Cadenhead of course, is an Scottish independent bottler whose main business is bottling Single Malt Whiskies, who also bottle some pretty good Rums as well. I’m sure, more of those will feature on these pages in the future, especially the cask strength ones.

Cadenhead Green Label 15yo DemeraraColor: White wine. Very pale gold.

Nose: Sweet and funky. Thick and unmistakable Demerara. I know peated Whiskies very well, but I can’t detect any peat in this yet. Distant hint of yellow fruits, white peach. The fruit interacts very well with a mystical hot dry wind note. Sweet peach yoghurt (not the acidity, there is no acidity in the nose whatsoever) and sweet black tea. Creamy. Small hint of nice smelling paper, which adds to the wonderful balance this Rum emits from my glass. All aroma’s go together very well. At this point I have to stress that this Rum has had plenty of time to “settle” with air. Maybe one to decant as well. (I’ve written about the benefits of decanting Whiskies earlier). Still no peat, nor smoke, but I do get some toasted wood. A more than wonderful nose that seems to go on and on. Exceptional. Just give it time to breathe!

Taste: I get the tea note first. Starts sweet, but the sweetness is quickly gone, to be replaced by a prickly woody note, which strips most of the sweetness out of my mouth like it’s been done with sandpaper. This makes room for the strange combination of acidity from unripe berries, milk chocolate and earwax. Wow, this is getting strange fast. Is this the effect of the peat? It still doesn’t remind me of peat though. Lets take another sip. When the dryness takes over, the balance deteriorates a bit. Not everything seems to be in check, and the aroma’s feel a bit uncomfortable. Something new moved into the building and the older residents don’t know yet what to make of it. More toasted cask now, with even some bitterness from one, or both casks. The finish seems short at first but when it turn into the aftertaste a smoky prickly sensation starts to happen mixed with mustard and the typical aroma’s of Demerara that were pushed out of the body and finish of the Rum. The Laphroaig cask did have an effect on this Rum, just not as I expected.

Maybe you Rum buffs don’t know this, but Laphroaig is actually a very sweet Whisky underneath. It’s sweetness is just well hidden underneath heaps of peat and iodine. Well, Laphroaig used to taste like that. More modern Laphroaigs are more obviously sweet, and the peat became more accessible, and the iodine, well, you can get that at your local pharmacy. How strange it is then, that a sweet Whisky with a sweet and heavy Demerara Rum make for such a dry Rum?

I always passed on the Green Labels when buying Rum from Cadenhead in favour of the dumpy bottles with Cask Strength Rum’s in them. Somehow a dumpy bottle with 36yo Uitvlugt (PM Mark!) Demerara Rum from 1966 bottled at 69.3% ABV, had more appeal to me than a 12yo Laphroaig finished Demerara. It still does, but this Green Label is no punishment to drink either. Maybe a bit unusual but also a very interesting experiment. I like it, and its even better than I thought it would be. Beyond the obvious, I’m not sure what the Laphroaig cask did for this Rum, but I do feel that the Demerara Rum, before it was finished, was already good to start with. I’m pretty sure it is Enmore (VSG Mark).

Points: 86

Heaven Hill 9yo (61.5%, Cadenhead, Individual Cask, Bourbon Barrel, 192 bottles, 2006)

All that talk about soapy florality in the Millstone “100 Rye”, made me remember this bottle of Heaven Hill bottled by Cadenhead. Actually this is a very interesting bottle since it is from Heaven Hill’s previous distillery. Heaven Hill Bardstown FireThe Heaven Hill distillery was located in Bardstown (DSP-KY-31) and it burned down on the 7th of november 1996. With the distillery, also 7 of the 44 warehouses were destroyed by the fire, containing some 90.000 casks. Even the water supply caught on fire. Since this bottle is 9 years old and bottled in may 2006, it is distilled somewhere between may 1996 and may 1997. The new distillery, Heaven Hill bought, is the former Bernhem distillery (DSP-KY-1), which is located in Louisville. The Cadenheads label clearly states that the distilling was done in Bardstown, so this means that this particular bottle is yielded from a single cask that was filled just before the fire and somehow managed to survive the fire, assuming it was ageing on site. One question thus remains, is this Bourbon going to be smoky or did it sleep through the fire?

Heaven Hill 9yo (61.5%, Cadenhead, Individual Cask, Bourbon Barrel, 192 bottles, 2006)Color: Dark orange brown.

Nose: Initially very floral, but that somehow manages to escape. Typically high Rye mashbill florality, or is it wheat, since this does remind me quite a bit of the very special Old Fitzgerald 12yo, also distilled by Heaven Hill. Otherwise not very “big” but soft and dry, dusty even. Caramel. Toasted cask. Hints of gravy and toffee. Soft oak and a bit sweet. Promises some sort of chewiness. Pretty is probably a good word for it. Give it some time, or better, al lot of time to breathe the more classic notes emerge, like honey, which finally defines the sweetness. The honey is well-integrated with the woody nose. Burnt wood yes (cask toast), but not smoky.

Taste: Quite a woody bite and there you have it, quite the soapy, floral Rye experience. A lot of flowers pass over my tongue. Lilac, lily-of-the-valley, lavender and tulips. Wow I never got this before! Grannies laundry. Very unusual stuff. The florality disappears down my throat, leaving me with a less floral finish than I initially thought. The aftertaste is more centered around a burnt toffee and creamy soft caramel, wood and soft leather. Only a mere hint of florality. Very unique and layered Bourbon. Never tried anything like this before. Even the most floral Four Roses, is not as floral as this. This one needs some time to develop and definitely needs time get used to. In no way is it a bad Bourbon though, but this will never be your average daily drinker stuff. Very educational. I’m pleased I came across this one.

Again a very good reminder that many Whiskies, whichever kind, need time and air to breathe and compose themselves. A lot is said about using water with Whisky, but air is just as important as water. I prefer giving Whisky some time. Maybe I should be starting to decant my Whiskies some more?

Points: 82

Cadenhead Creations 20yo ‘Rich Fruity Sherry’ (46%, Batch No. 1, 2013)

Cadenheads CreationsMerry Christmas everybody! In 2013 Cadenheads released a home-made blend called Cadenhead Creations (Rich Fruity Sherry). This first batch had an age statement of 20yo and was bottled in 2013. The blend was made with two casks of Single Malt and two casks of Single Grains. Samples of those casks are pictured here on the right. From left to right: Mortlach 1992 (cask #7848), Bruichladdich 1993 (cask #1648), Cameronbridge 1989 (cask #22804) and Invergordon 1991 (cask #39006). Since then two more Cadenhead Creations were released. A 21yo (black label, silver stripe, Blended Malt made with Ardbeg, Bowmore and Caol Ila) and a 17yo (white label, yellow stripe, another Blended Whisky made with Ardmore, Auchroisk, Caperdonich, Clynelish and Invergordon).

Cadenhead Creations 20yo 'Rich Fruity Sherry' (46%, Batch No. 1, 2013)Color: Full Gold.

Nose: Although it seems that this is a 50/50 mixture of Single Malt and Single Grain, the nose is more on the grainy side. Malty and waxy, paper and cardboard. Very nice wood. Meaty, nutty and spicy. Deeper down some hints of Sherry, not upfront as the label suggests. Fruity (but not sweet) and lots of character.

Taste: Malty and grainy again. The waxiness is here to, but here it is fruity and accompanied with a little bit of sweetness. Sweet paper and cardboard again. Some short, hot or red peppery attacks. Spicy and slightly bitter wood. Aspartame sweetness. The wood upfront and may be too strong. The wood makes it right across the body of the Whisky into the finish. Along the way the wood picks up a little bit of oaky bitterness, with together with the red peppery attack make the finish.

Rich, yes, rich wood. Fruity, well not so much if you ask me, the wood is way more pronounced. Sherry, well if you expect the dark Sherries from the picture above, that´s not the case here. It doesn’t remind me of Oloroso or PX-Sherry casks at all. This blend is about wood in many guises.

Points: 81 (for character)

Glen Moray 15yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogsheads, 684 bottles)

This is the third Glen Moray on these pages. Although I use a 100 points scare for scoring drinks, and in my opinion Whisky is one of the best drinks around. Whisky usually scores in the upper ranges of that scale. So any good Whisky scores at least 80 points. Both Glen Moray’s I reviewed before, one 13yo Dun Bheagan, and one official 8yo, didn’t make it across the 80 points-line and are therefore considered bu connoisseurs to be “mediocre” at best. However, if you read my reviews carefully, they still have enough going for them, and are still pretty good drinks, or pretty good Whiskies for that matter. It’s just that a lot of Whiskies score higher than these Glen Moray’s. But here is another Glen Moray, one by Cadenhead, so lets see if this will score in the 80’s or even higher?

Glen Moray 15yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogsheads, 684 bottles)Color: White wine.

Nose: Quite closed, or isn’t there much happening. Alcohol, hints of sweet yellow fruits. Even though it isn’t a white wine finish were Glen Moray are almost famous for, it does remind me of a white wine finished Glen Moray. Hints of margarine and vanilla. Soft touch of oak. Very restrained, it just smells like fresh air.

Taste: Yes typical thin Glen Moray again. A crumb of old dark chocolate. A little bit of oak, and an acidity resembling a wine finish. Usually Glen Moray tends to get overly sweet after a wine finish, and I can’t say that’s the case here. Lots of maltiness and a little bit of paper and bitter oak in the finish. Good, it gives it character. Anything better than that strange acidity.

Extremely light color, again casks (probably two) that weren’t very active any more. I am not completely sure this isn’t a white wine finish. A very clean expression, and that’s me being positive, because not a lot seems to be happening here… (Mind you, this is still a damn good drink!)

Points: 76

Craigellachie 18yo 1994/2013 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, Bourbon & Sherry Hogshead, 432 bottles)

Hey, let’s try another Craigellachie. I’ve just reviewed the new official 13yo, and got a taste of what the official Craigellachie tastes like. That one seems to me to be only from Bourbon casks, and this Cadenhead expression is not only from a Bourbon, but also from Sherry Hogsheads. Craigellachie is often a very nice distillate, meaty and funky, so I have high hopes for this, so without further ado…

Craigellachie 18yo 1994/2013 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, Bourbon & Sherry Hogshead, 432 bottles)Color: Copper gold

Nose: Velvety, vegetal and occasionally soapy. Strong. Gin botanicals. Sweet smelling (funky and sweet lavas) and extremely fresh at first. Menthol. Lots of oak. Next a lot of development. The menthol and other “fresh” components dissipate and a funky and oaky sweatiness takes over. Sweet dusty licorice and slightly rotting oak and the sharper wood odor of pencil shavings. Yes you’ve guessed it, a very interesting Craigellachie! Buttery vanilla. and sweetish wet fern leaves. Lots happening here. Not a nose for the faint hearted. Complex stuff.

Taste: Sweet at first but very quickly turning into something dry. Nice oak again with pencil shavings and tiny hints of cannabis in vanilla ice-cream. Very aromatic. Warm coffee (with milk), wood and dark, but not too dark, chocolate. Well balanced and very interesting aroma’s thrown together. Funky beerlike finish. Animalesk. Mocha, toffee and salty caramel are there too. I feel this Whisky changes a lot along the way.

Probably a Whisky for connoisseurs. I like it a lot, but I don’t think newbies will be positive since accessibility is not the priority for this Whisky. The complexity and amount of aroma’s are just shy of being overwhelming.

Points: 87