Caperdonich 26yo 1980/2007 (56.2%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon Cask #7349, 164 bottles)

Earlier this month my Whisky club reconvened again and this time we picked Glen Grant and Glen Grant 2 as the subject of choice. Glen Grant 2 is better known as Caperdonich. This 1980 was my entry into the line-up and got a lot of thumbs up. Not the winner in the end, because what Whisky could compete with the great Glen Grant, Gordon & MacPhail bottled to celebrate the wedding of Charles and Diana (the clear winner in my opinion). Also present was a highly praised Duncan Taylor Caperdonich from 1972 and two Murray McDavid Missions from 1968 and 1969…

Caperdonich 26yo 1980/2007 (56.2%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon Cask #7349, 164 bottles)Color: Dark gold.

Nose: Vanilla, but a very strict kind of vanilla. Lots of influence from the wood. Spicy vanilla. Buttery and creamy. Demerara sugar. This also has a nice luxurious paper like quality to it. Old warehouse full of ageing Malts. A wonderful old Malt this turns out to be. The (dried) spiciness is quite complex. Light honey and nutmeg. Have you ever treated yourself at home to a quality vanilla ice-cream and didn’t do the dishes right away? Remember the smell of the dried out ice-cream at the bottom of the bowl? It’s in this very Whisky. Nice! Dried leaves partly from forest plants and partly from dried herbs and to a lesser extent: pencil shavings.

Taste: Vanilla again, but also a hoppy character. You also try the occasional beer don’t you? Toffee and caramel. Just the right amount of sweets, combined with a very zesty, although, tiny hint of fruity acidity. Red fruits, little forest strawberries, half-dried raspberries and other red berries. Where in most cases the acidity isn’t all that well-integrated, here it works like a charm. The fruitiness continues well into the long finish where the hoppy (cannabis?) bit returns. Is there even a tiny, tiny hint of coconut? All of this is given a good and astringent backbone of oak, that is aiding the Whisky along and giving it character. It’s not overpowering, just, but definitely in there. The high strength is noticeable but the Whisky is never hot.

What a great Malt this is. Fantastic development over the time you’re trying it and what wonderful flavours this gives off. This may take water very well, but I have never been feeling the need to do that yet. Thankfully I still have quite some left in this bottle to play around with and mostly, to enjoy myself with it. A great buy. Sad this distillery is no longer producing Whisky. But you never know how modern Caperdonich would have turned out in the first place. Luckily the old Caperdonichs are often stellar, especially from Bourbon casks.

Points: 88

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Caperdonich 38yo 1972/2011 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #7437, 162 bottles, 500 ml)

Amongst others, the most ‘famous’ bottlings of Caperdonichs from 1972 are the Duncan Taylor ones from the 74xx series, and they had a lot. Earlier I reviewed Cask #7424. Lately these casks were sold out and prices are soaring now. Now we have this. Mo Òr also have a Caperdonich from 1972 and it is a bourbon hogshead. But wait, it is Hogshead #7437! Could it be they have obtained one of Duncan Taylors fabulous Hogsheads of Caperdonich 1972. Let’s have a look. Well it turns out Duncan Taylor also have a Cask #7437 yielding 161 bottles. Being a hoggie, this can’t be a cask share since precisely 300 bottles at cask strength can’t come out of one hoggie. (I’ll spare you the math). Well are there two casks with the same number, or did the guys from Mo Òr buy up all the bottles and reduced them to 46%? I’ll have to ask.

Color: Gold

Nose: Yeah this definitively is a 1972 Caperdonich from the good casks. Nice waxy, old bottle smell. Very elegant granny in her old room. Being used to these casks at cask strength, this sample does seem less up front. Still I like this very much, the reduction didn’t spoil the whisky at all. It shows a dimension, that was hidden behind the fruits and wax in the cask strength versions. It makes it smell like an old spices warehouse. Still the fruit and the wax, such a typical combination for these Caperdonichs are só good. After some air lightly spiced wood and vanilla enter the mix. This is an example of perfect balance.

Taste: Here there is some spicy wood, it has a touch of cannabis (given off by the oak), that makes this very nice! Light waxiness and so very fruity. Half sweet. Think yellow fruits, peaches, partly in syrup. Wow! I was afraid reduction would make the palate thin, but it didn’t. Hint of coffee. Again perfect balance. Reduction probably did shorten the finish a little. But that doesn’t spoil the fun. One element of caution. Don’t let it sit too long in your glass. Air brings out a little bitterness and other woody parts that don’t do this Caperdonich right.

Unbelievable that after all these years there is no strong wood that ruins the picture, bitters the finish, and overpowering it all. They don’t make them like this anymore. Do yourself a favour and try one of these before it’s too late and they are gone forever. Fabulous stuff! Of all casks #74xx, cask #7424 is considered the best, and that one I scored 93 points. This Mo Òr isn’t scoring much less. I would have loved, for educational purposes, to taste a cask sample of this. Well done Mo Òr!

Points: 91

Thanks go out to Henk for handing me this sample.

Caperdonich 35yo 1972/2008 (50.3%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar Belgium, Cask #7424, 136 bottles)

Duncan Taylor, once Glaswegian brokers in whisky casks. Now of Huntly in the North East of Scotland. These guys have some massive amounts of great casks lying around. I know a lot of bottlings they did that are legendary. For instance: Tomatin 1976, Bowmore 1966 and Bowmore 1968, to name but a few, but there are a lot more. But it’s not only the vast amount of casks, it’s also the quality, and consistency of their whiskies, and grains. Duncan Taylor are definitively among my favourite independent bottlers.

Color: Orange Gold

Nose: Wow, double wow. This is fabulous! Old Bottle and überfruity. Apricots, peaches and sugar-coated oranges. Very organic and even a bit nasty, but all in a very good way. I guess we already have one of those legends on our hand. It has some earwax and wood, but not as much as you would have thought for something that’s 35 years old.

Taste: Sorry, but its wow again! It has a spicy punch after all those years. It’s palate matches the nose. The same fruits for me, and almost no wood and it hasn’t been an inactive cask either, just look at the color. It also reminds me of a very well aged perfect Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer. This would have been almost perfect, (because does perfection exist on our planet?), when the finish would remain somewhat sweeter and retain the fruityness and if it could have kept its balance some more. In the finish, the wood plays a greater, drier and a bit sour and thus unbalancing role. But it maybe nitpicking, because this Caperdonich receives a well earned…

Points: 93