#abbeywhisky Twitter (or Tweet) Tasting took place on Wednesday 20th November at 7pm. Organised by Steve Rush at The Whisky Wire and Mike Sharples from Abbey Whisky we received 4 black wax sealed 3cl miniature bottles of whisky samples for the evening. I was already excited enough to be taking part as well as tasting my first ever Caperdonich and Ben Nevis whisky expressions. To top it all off, the final dram was a mystery to be revealed to us all after we had sampled it. The tasting was a tale of two halves, the first two samples were that barely gold hue that I associate usually with 2nd or even 3rd refill bourbon casks, whilst the other two could have happily passed for blood or red wine!
The first sample was the Caperdonich 17 Years Old 1st release, bottled at 57.8% ABV. The Caperdonich “Secret well” distillery was rebuilt from the ill-fated Glen Grant#2 distillery in 1965 and took the name Caperdonich in 1967 when law prohibited operating distilleries from using the same name [i.e. Glen Grant]. Caperdonich was eventually procured by Pernod Ricard in 2001 and stopped production in 2002. In 2010 Caperdonich was bull-dozed though the stills themselves escaped to the Belgian Owl distillery to distill another day. Caperdonich whisky is thus becoming increasingly rare as none had been made since 2002 and its chequered past would suggest minimal stock casks are likely available for the years that it was in operation. This expression must have been distilled around 1996 when Caperdonich was owned by Seagram [1977-2001] and makes up what can only be a handful of independent Caperdonich single malt bottlings, as per usual most distillate was destined for blending by the parent company.
The second sample was the Bunnahabhain 23 Years Old 2nd release, bottled at 44% ABV. Old Bunnahabhain itself is not unusual, the distillery produce a 25 Years Old sherried version. This one however has never seen a sherry cask in its life. I recently had a very nice SMWS bottling of 24 Years Old Jura whisky [31.26] from a refill ex-bourbon hogshead that was somewhat similar in character. The cask influence being incredibly minimal [or is it?] allowing much of the distillate to do the work. The result is a seriously subtle and delicate creation with incredible depth. The worry for me would be that non-Whiskyphiles would find this all too easy to drink it all [or mix it with cola] before they realised just how good this is. This whisky is the perfect example of doing something so well you hardly knew it was doing anything at all! Serious contender for favourite of the evening, but this one just played to the dichotomy of the contest, as we were now moving from unadulterated examples of spirit to the seriously sherried!
The third sample [3 being its number], was the Ben Nevis 16 Years Old 3rd release, bottled at 55% ABV. The Ben Nevis Distillery produces a 10 Years Old single malt bottling matured in bourbon casks, however the majority of the distillate is taken by its parent company to their homeland for blending. In the case of Ben Nevis this is Nikka in Japan, so little single malt gets to see the light of day again in its native Scotland. This 16 Years Old was distilled in 1997 and matured solely in a sherry cask, and bottled at cask strength with an outturn of only 96 bottles!
The fourth and final dram of the evening was a mystery! To be sampled and tasted by us experts [! – OK whisky geeks and obsessives]. This was immense fun as the guesses were flying in wildly! Nobody quite managed to pin this down to a sherried GlenDronach, distilled in 1993 and matured solely in an Oloroso Cask #33. Cask strength GlenDronach is not particularly rare and as such this has not been bottled in the rare cask series. Indeed GlenDronach have just recently announced the launch of their latest cask strength bottling Batch 3 matured in a combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, bottled at 54.9% vol and released without age-statement [also available from Abbey Whisky]. However where the distillery releases rely on marrying of separate casks together to create balance in their final bottle, this one derives all of its superb nature from just one [presumably imbued with damn good quality] cask.