Jolly Toper Tasting 21/02/2014
Cadenhead’s new cask strength releases
Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop – The Royal Mile, Edinburgh
On Friday 21st February we attended the Jolly Toper Tasting held at the Kilderkin pub in Edinburgh. The main reasons for selecting this tasting were 1. it was on a Friday (not Thursday as usual) and 2. It didn’t clash with the Water of Life Society tasting (as the one for the 20th had been advanced). So Paula, myself and the WoLs vice-president Richard found ourselves ensconced in the Kilderkin ready to be delighted and entertained…
The following drams were lined up before us blind, so we had no idea what we were tasting. The tasting was led by Mark from Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. After each sampling Mark would go through a series of semi-standard questions such as what people thought of the whisky (good/bad/indifferent), any particular flavour/tasting notes, how old they thought it was (<12, <15, <18, <21 or 21 and over), how much per bottle they would hope to pay for it, and possibly what it could be region/type/finish etc. This usually led to some interesting discussion and also via quick hands-up voting, a judge as to how much people enjoyed it, how old they perceived it to be and what sort of cost they expected to encounter. Then the reveal!
Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Auchentoshan 21 Year Old , 1992
51.8% ABV, £65 for 70cl
Nose: Perfumed and sweet esters, lemon citrus with hints of cereals, honey syrup and newish/green wood, wheatgerm soap
Taste: Silky and sweet, bubblegum (hubba bubba) then prickly phenol and germolene round off into cinnamon and ginger
Finish: Short and sweet with demerera sugars and new paint vapours
What I say: This 21 year old, bourbon hogshead matured, triple-distilled Auchentoshan was ethereal and light despite its age. This one received a mixed review from the crowd, with people either really enjoying it or not being too enamoured with it. I think this one is so light that many missed the point. One of a 162 bottle outturn February 2014.
Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Glenlossie-Glenlivet 20 year old, 1993
53.3% ABV, £55 for 70cl
Colour: Full gold
Nose: Alcohol vapours, musty old oak wood, nail varnish acetone, fruity oranges and dunnage warehouses
Taste: Warming, yeasty beer, fruity oranges, hops with a slight sour and bitterness, reminiscent of an old woody pub smell
Finish: Medium, a little warm and woody
What I say: Distinctly old and woody this one was a little astringent and acidic in places, even more so after the addition of water. As Mark said “water always tastes better in whisky, but the opposite is not often the case”. Again this one received a mixed reaction, though on the whole an improvement from the Auchentoshan as a little more body and old wood were to be found in this dram. One of a 212 bottle outturn February 2014.
Cadenhead’s Potter’s Distillers Inc. Canada Indian Corn 24 year old, 1990
56.5% ABV, £67.50 for 70cl
Nose: Vaporous with hints of acetone, spicy ginger and linseed oil
Taste: Brown sugar and molasses, sweet and sugary with spicy ginger increasing to cayenne pepper intensity before returning to woody sugars
Finish: Continues with spicy and sugary ginger
What I say: Distinctly Rye whisky this one confused a few who were guessing at some kind of rum-cask finish due to the spicy gingery sweetness. Cadenhead’s are not really sure where this whisky came from in Canada, only that it was found as maturing stock in a warehouse and was marked as Indian Corn Whisky (Indian Corn is reputed to be animal grade maize, or corn as we call it in the UK). A spicy intensity, but a real pleasure to drink – surprised a few on the night who quickly put in a request for a bottle to be saved for them.
Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Tamdhu-Glenlivet 22 Year Old Port Cask, 1991
57% ABV, £56 for 70cl
Colour: Rich gold
Nose: Fragrant nose with vaporous ‘fines’ alcohol and wine, chloroform, mellow oak woody aroma and leafmould (autumnal decomposing fallen leaves)
Taste: Warming orange (essential) oil, meaty and chewy tasting with a little salt, a little water revealed jammy woodland fruits and woody sugars with a grapefruit pithy/zesty flavour
Finish: Medium sweet and woody undiluted, water revealed juicy grapes/wine in the finish
What I say: The polar opposite to the Glenlossie, this one really needed water to draw out that Jammy Port Finish. Without water this whisky was a little too strong, woody and sugary. With water it was sublimely beautiful but still feisty and well-matured (oaky). Close to being my favourite of the evening if only it weren’t for…
Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Laphroaig 22 Year Old, 1991
49.8% ABV, £90.40
Colour: Very refractive gold
Nose: Earthy peaty peanut, sweet floral violets and roses, pineapple cube sweets, peaches and apricots
Taste: Bubblegum (cinnamon?), peat smoothly and subtly makes itself noticed whilst creamy vanilla and coconut custard oozes out
Finish: Delicate and long, further vanilla custard increasing to icing sugar-like sweetness, becomes almost sickly if not for the earthy peaty influence
What I say: Drool, welcome to whisky heaven, definitely one for those who love peat but there was no harshness of TCP/germolene or smoke for that matter. This was really just an earthy peatiness covered in thick layers of vanilla custard, and everyone loves custard – right? Definitely without a doubt my favourite of the evening.
A fantastic evening was had by all and new whisky friends were met and made, a huge thanks as always to the whisky-maestro Mark for keeping us guessing and entertained all evening.