Inchgower 25yo (1980/2006 (53.2%, Dewar Rattray, Sherry Cask #14161, 486 bottles)

After the “old” Teaninich, let’s have a look at something else from the attic that was also bottled a long time ago. Just like Teaninich, Inchgower is another lesser known Distillery owned by Diageo. And for me one of the better ones as well. I’ve come across quite a few really good Inchgowers. Long time no Inchgower though on these pages. It’s almost six years since I reviewed another Inchgower. One from 1982 bottled by Raymond Armstrong, remember Bladnoch? The 1982 was quite hefty and although very good, it was another Whisky, like the Teaninich F&F I reviewed just now, that needs a lot of attention, wearing you out if it didn’t get the attention it wanted. If carelessly sipped, it will kill you, so even though it is a very good Whisky with a quite a high score, I was glad when the bottle was finally finished. Strange ‘eh? Here we have another Inchgower from the beginning of the eighties, so I’m already bracing myself, especially since this is a Sherried one as well…

Color: Dark copper brown.

Nose: Boiled eggs (not rotten). Very buttery and milky. Luckily, these off notes dissipate quite quickly. I have to say right off the bat that this Whisky got a lot of time to breathe. When it was freshly opened this had a lot of Sulphur. When the milky, baby vomit notes dissipate, it shows more woody notes. A minute amount of sulphur and some bitter black tea. Underneath (sniff hard), brown sugar and even some honey. Sulphur still detectable and now it rears its head (is it ugly?) like swamp-gas. Although a lot seems wrong with this, I seem not to dislike it. I never belonged to the I’m-allergic-to-sulphur-police, so I’m able to deal with it. In the depth, where the brown sugar is, are also the more soft woody notes. Some whiffs smell like Rum actually. Sulphur seems to be dying down, but when you move the Whisky around in your glass vigorously, you’ll be able to get some more. Spicy, yet not woody. Vanilla powder and altogether funky. Give it time to breathe. In the end the Sulphur is kept in check and all the remaining wonderful aroma’s get their room to shine. What a wonderful nose this is. The sulphur didn’t bother me that much, but the milky part did, this must breathe before sipping.

Taste: Big, woody and slightly soapy. After swallowing, the first sip, the soap, again, this time around, no too bad, is followed by a wave of liquid bitterness (and fruity acidity). I know, a strange sentence indeed. Fruity underneath and mouthcoating. Sweeter than expected, very, red, fruity. Cold black tea. And the bitterness seems ok. Very funky floral notes which mix well with the red over-ripe fruits. Berries, raspberry, little ripe forest strawberries. Mouth coating, very, mouthcoating indeed, leaving behind some bitterness, but more important, some priceless black fruits as well. For me the black fruits are the holy grail of Whisky. Nice finish, but who cares, if the long aftertaste shows you all those black fruits, dark chocolate and some wood. Sure it isn’t able to shed all of the soapyness, but with fruits like these, I’m happy to forgive it it’s soapyness and the many other flaws it shows. Special stuff.

Some Whiskies like this, over-the-top, can be bad. This one has a lot wrong with it but it’s not bad, There is a lot of fun to be had, if you like the extreme ones, if you are able to deal with a Whisky like this. If you are a novice, steer clear, please. If you are an anorak, a whisky-geek with tendencies towards SM, please pick it up at an auction, because as I said, it is not a bad Whisky. Too much of a lot, but therein lies the fun. A guilty pleasure. Aficionados like it, that’s why this doesn’t pop up a lot at auctions. I’m sure that when I’m going to clean my glass, it will foam like crazy! (It did). For me a no-brainer if it shows up somewhere. Don’t bid against me please!

Points: 91

(Freshly opened, without breathing, the score would be 84, so you’d better let it breathe, long time!)

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Glencadam 30yo 1975/2006 (54.4%, Dewar Rattray, Cask Collection, Bourbon Cask #7588, 216 bottles)

Why not make it a double bill, and review our third Glencadam. Both Glencadam’s I reviewed earlier managed to score a nice 85 Points, so let’s see if this one does better. This particular on is 30 years old, and by itself it’s older than both previous examples put together. This is another one from the attic, since it was released back in 2006. The difference couldn’t be greater when comparing it to the Glencadam I just reviewed. It is twice the age and this one comes from a Bourbon cask, surely it will do better?

Glencadam 30yo DRColor: Full gold, and only slightly lighter than the 15yo.

Nose: Half sweet and nice biscuity barley. Slightly spicy and reminds me of old Dutch Jenever. Definitely some Bourbon influences. Some waxy elements, but not much. In fact the Whisky smells quite young and vibrant and not at all would you expect it to be 30 years old. Fresh, hints of citrus and only mere hints of vanilla. Dusty wood completes the nose. That’s it, not much more is happening. After a while more fruit comes to the fore. Sweetish yellow fruits. Some unripe banana skin. Adding to the structure of banana comes powdered coffee-creamer, in the smell a creamy variant of vanilla. Dusty and slightly dried out ice-cream after you spilled it and didn’t clean it right away. Given some time the freshness takes a back seat and the whole is nice but also rather dull. Not a very active cask I’m afraid. Having said that, it does smell like something from the past.

Taste: Wood, paper and cardboard and after that a short, sharp attack, quickly followed by a short sweet note. After the sweetness comes some woody bitterness. Distant dull vanilla. Waxy again. Cold candle wax. So the body is present and almost chewy, yet surrounded by dry paper and woody notes. A nice old Bourbon matured Whisky, but not a stellar one like 1972 Caperdonich or 1976 Tomatin, to name but a few. Here also some fruit emerges, but again a bit dull. Dried bits of pineapple and some old broken almond bits, you sometimes find in the couch. Luckily the sweetish and fruity note dominate the body, not leaving much room for the woody bitterness. The finish has medium length, but there isn’t much happening afterwards. What stays around for the longest, apart from general (cardboardy) creaminess, is a sour note you get from (new) oak.

Not bad, quite nice, but also not spectacular as well. No real off notes and nothing (bad) overpowering the whole. Still a nice one to pick up when all of its distant relatives are sold out. Definitely a lot better than most of the modern Whiskies though. I’ll have fond memories of this nevertheless.

Points: 85

Glenallachie 7yo 2007/2014 (50%, Dewar Rattray, The Specialists’ Choice, Sherry Butt #900168, 350 bottles)

Glenallachie, just like Braeval, is one of the fairly new distilleries originating in the sixties. Glenallachie was founded in 1967. (Remember Sgt. Pepper’s ?) Glenallachie is located in Banffshire in a region that we particularly know as Speyside. Built by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries and sold to Invergordon Distillers in 1985. S&N ran it for two years and thus closed it down in 1987 and subsequently sold it to Pernod Ricard. Those of you who have read my recent reviews of Glenlivet, Strathisla and Braeval, know that Pernod Ricard are putting a lot of effort into marketing their big brands Aberlour and especially The Glenlivet, but don’t do a lot, if anything, with their other distilleries Strathisla and Braeval, but also Glenallachie, Glenburgie, Glentauchers, Miltonduff, Scapa and Tormore don’t get a lot of “Airplay”.

Glenallachie 7yo 2007/2014 (50%, Dewar Rattray, The Specialists' Choice, Sherry Butt #900168, 350 bottles)Those distilleries are viewed as production capacity for numerous blends owned by Chivas Brothers, like the well-known Chivas Regal. As said before, I would like to see those marketed as Single Malts by their owners! For the time being we’ll have a look at this independent version of a quite young and Sherried Glenallachie.

Color: Copper gold.

Nose: Nice half-stale meaty Sherry, with lots of wood, sawdust and pencil shavings and some nice woody spices. All of this wood after only seven years! Chocolate with a breath of fresh air. Lavas and other leafy spices. Remember cleaning out the gutter, when the heap of leaves aren’t completely dried out? After that chocolate combined with toffee, so it is most certainly interesting. Cold gravy.

Taste: Wood with chocolate and a hint of cherry liqueur. Forget about Ferrero Rocher, now we have this! Dark chocolate again and all the woody notes I mentioned above apart from the cedary pencil shavings. The wood brings some bitterness and a kind of acidity, The Whisky really doesn’t need. This sour note would probably disappear after some more ageing, so for me it shows its youth. Wood and leaves is what stays behind towards the finish.

Although initially very interesting, the nose is pretty nice and starting to sip this, yes, nice again, but along the way parts of the taste doesn’t seem to match the rest of it. Somewhere it’s pretty unbalanced and pretty young. A bit mono dimensional. It’s ok and without mayor flaws, but also not a lot to rattle my boat as well.

Points: 83

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

Macduff 10yo 2000/2011 (46%, Dewar Rattray, for Specialists Choice, First Fill Sherry Butt #5788, 360 bottles)

Macduff 10yo 2000/2011 (46%, Dewar Rattray, for Specialists Choice, First Fill Sherry Butt #5788, 360 bottles)Finally a younger expression of Macduff. Not one I predicted in the last Macduff review, would be from the nineties, but already one from the new millennium. We’ll see what happens next time. All the Macduffs I reviewed up untill now were all in their thirties, this time we go back to basics with a good old ten year old from the year 2k. Lets see if the computers monitoring the distillation process didn’t go berserk.

Color: Copper

Nose: Raisins and fat Sherry. Pencil shavings. Creamy oranges. Nice soft and velvety wood. Milk chocolate and warm chocolate milk. Hint of cranberry. Pretty meaty if you ask me. Curious mix of red fruit with spicy wood and chocolate. Licorice root. Intriguing.

Taste: First a short, sharp, spicy and slightly bitter bite, than the (slower) sweetness comes into the mouth. Again pencil shavings and licorice. Excellent sweetness and the pencil shavings are great. Also some ashes. Lots of not too dark chocolate although later on, the wood turns a little bit bitter turning the milk chocolate into a darker kind. Also over time, the sweetness seems to be more and more out-of-place, disturbing the balance a bit.

A nice daily drinker or a Sherry grenade. Well, it’s not a Sherry bomb, and I feel the reduction worked well this time. I obviously haven’t tasted this at a higher strength, but I have noticed that adding water to a first fill red Sherry, gives the Whisky a sharp edge. This example is far from sharp. Very drinkable and very nice nevertheless.

Points: 84

Caol Ila 21yo 1984/2006 (58.5%, Dewar Rattray, for The Nectar, Belgium, Refill Bourbon, Cask #6266, 251 bottles)

Caol Ila was founded in 1846 and rebuilt in 1879 and 1972, and in 1974 six new stills were installed. As of 1999 also unpeated whisky is made, which is nice, but also makes you wonder about single casks sold to independents since that date. Mainly used for the Johnnie Walker blends, but more and more used as a single malt due to the popularity of Islay malts. If I’m not mistaken the first official bottlings were the Flora & Fauna 15yo and a few Rare Malt editions. In 2002 the 12yo, 18yo and a cask strength were released and a few years later a Moscatel finish Distillers Edition and Moch were released. During that time also three versions of a 25yo were released, I know were pretty good.

This whisky was distilled on December 12th 1984 and bottled 21 years later on September 6th, 2006, and was bottled for Belgian outfit, The Nectar.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Fat Peat with ash. Very leafy, as in fresh, non-musty wet leaves and crushed dried leaves. Sweet and balanced. Green apple skin. Sweaty, tarry and with distant flowery perfume. Hints of wood. Crushed beetles, (not Beatles). Sea with some smoke and late (dare I say unexpected) fruitiness.

Taste: Sweet and chewy, with elegant peat. Nutty, almonds and some walnut. Some white pepper and plants. Also the sweat returns which fits the profile. Nice balance. It has some unexpected fresh sourness in the warming finish. No wood to speak of, but it has the wood spice. Finally, some salt on the lips, during the yellow fruity finish (apricots and peaches obviously). Astonishing.

I quite like this. Due to its perfect sweetness this is dangerously drinkable. Not as complex as I might have hoped, but hey, it’s not a super old Islay, and we don’t drink those for their finesse do we? Caol Ila in al its guises is a very nice alternative to all the other (increasingly expensive) brothers from Islay.

Points: 90