Cragganmore 18yo 1993/2011 (55.3%, Duncan Taylor, Sherry Cask #1385, 494 bottles)

Cragganmore is next. This one was cracked open on the last day of 2012. First of all some funny business about this one. When we opened it late at night (with artificial light) it seemed red, just like a lemonade. Second it smelled like a lemonade too, very sour. It started out as a Bourbon smell. The taste was even worse, ultimate sourness. Erik, it’s owner was already on his way to pour this one into the sink. I didn’t like it either that evening. Luckily I was able to save it and take it home with me. Today I have the chance to give this another go. First of all, I can look at this by daylight and I can’t see the red lemonade anymore. It has this orange brown color most Bourbons have.

Color: Orange Brown.

Nose: Lots of wood and some acetone. Perfumy varnished wood and spicy. Seems dry. Dark chocolate and toffee. The whole should smell like a Sherry bomb, but actually this smells like a Rye Whiskey. As much as I didn’t like this last year, it’s great now. What have I done then to ruin my palate that much? After some airing, the sherry notes trickle through, as do the vanilla and fresh, somewhat soapy notes. It’s pretty good! Wow, what an experience.

Taste: Thick, sweet Sherry and wood. Dark oaky chocolate. Its great. It’s the wood without the bitterness and it’s not overly dry. Just right. Utter balance. What nice stuff. Old fatty smoke, coal fire. Near the end, and  into the slightly bitter and woody finish, some small hints of red and black fruits, accompany the coal and maybe a hint of a well-known brown soft-drink to make this a special dram.

Well, that’s why on the last day of the year I do not bring my little black note-book with me. Strange things can happen, and now I have the proof to show it. This Cragganmore is excellent Whisky, or Whiskey, or Rhum or Bourbon…no doubt about it? Thumbs up!

Points: 90

Thanx Erik for the 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