New Whiskies

Batch 131

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Batch 131: Cadenhead Creations, Cambus, Dufftown, James Eadie Trade Mark X, Linkwood and Strathclyde.

There’s a little bit of everything in this week’s round-up of new whiskies: two single grains, a couple of single malts, a blend and a blended malt – plus liquid from a pair of lost distilleries.

We begin with a 20-year-old blended malt made under the ‘Cadenhead Creations’ banner, which intriguingly combines Springbank, Longrow, Tobermory, Glen Moray and Glen Garioch. It’s softly smoky and warmly comforting. ‘What’s not to like?’ asks Dave Broom.

Next comes the first of two appearances this week from closed grain distillery Cambus, in the shape of a 24-year-old bottling from North Star Spirits. It recovers from a poor start to win Broom over with its ‘exotic, cask-driven’ flavours.

Chilly days at Wimbledon are brought to mind by our next whisky, another Cadenhead bottling of single malt Dufftown. Broom eventually concedes that it’s pleasant enough, but signs off with a slightly dismissive ‘meh’.

Our blend is the revived James Eadie Trade Mark X, resurrected 70 years after it was discontinued. First made in 1854 and registered in 1877, the modern incarnation is based on detailed research by Eadie’s great-great-grandson, Rupert Patrick.

It’s a blend of the 12 whiskies listed in Eadie’s Victorian ledgers and still in production today – including Caol Ila, Lagavulin, Craigellachie and Aberlour – as well as liquid from lost distilleries Cambus and Littlemill. Richard Woodard takes on tasting duties for this one – and, according to him, it’s a triumph.

While the Eadie is a robust, smoky dram, our next whisky is anything but. Cadenhead’s Linkwood 24 Years Old is a shy, subtle single malt that, says Broom, is all too easily overlooked. It also puts him in mind of a classic chocolate commercial.

We close this week with another aged grain, this time from Strathclyde and strictly for those with a sweet tooth. In Broom’s words, it’s a whisky that goes straight into the arteries – and leaves him sadly unable to partake in any adventurous activities in sand dunes.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Cadenhead Creations ‘Light Fruity Smoky’ 20 Years Old

    Cadenhead Creations ‘Light Fruity Smoky’ 20 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45.2%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A clean start, with softened apple and some green, celery-like elements, then cucumber skin and lemon zest. The wood is well-balanced, adding some light vanilla and white chocolate, then camomile and sweet spice. With water, some oily waxiness, more of the floral elements – daffodils especially – then bright lemon and gingery, then a drift of smoke and a mineral edge.

    Palate

    A pillowy start with cream puffs, chocolate eclair, then the anticipated bite of lemon and green apple. Just a hint of yeastiness. The wood is in the background, just adding to the rather fine balance. With water, remains sweet but now there seems to be more energy and brightness moving towards red fruit. Full mid-palate.

    Finish

    Softer than you’d expect, then smoke and light mint.

    Conclusion

    Apparently this vatting of Springbank, Longrow, Tobermory, Glen Moray and Glen Garioch was put together in 2009 and then forgotten – sorry, deliberately given a rest – for eight years. Balanced and very easy-drinking. What’s not to love?

    Right place, right time

    A soft, Angora-sweatered hug.

    Cambus 24 Years Old (North Star Spirits)

    Cambus 24 Years Old (North Star Spirits)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.7%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    It starts disappointingly, with the foosty aroma of a damp cellar, old wood and a fungal note. This, however, does start to lift quickly (though I’m not sure it entirely goes away), being replaced by tight woodiness, raisin, liquorice and an increasingly spicy element: garam masala with anise and clove oil. Water brings out a light funkiness and that opening is pretty much forgotten.

    Palate

    Very sweet and concentrated, with the Christmas pudding mix to the fore along with a nuttiness, some resin and more subtle spices than you might expect from the nose. The sense of the old wood is in the background. It’s more of a PX Sherry with some whisky added than the reverse. Water produces some burnt elements.

    Finish

    Huge hit of star anise.

    Conclusion

    If you want things cask-driven with exotic touches, then this is for you. If you want Cambus, then look elsewhere. It’s from a refill PX butt, but that first fill must have been a pretty short one. I kind of like it.

    Right place, right time

    Christmas in Montilla.

    Dufftown 10 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Dufftown 10 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Quite light, with some cereal elements (just-harvested field). There’s pretty low cask influence here and, accordingly, it’s quite feisty and dry, although red fruits then begin to emerge: strawberry tarts to be precise, along with some browning apple that’s been left in a schoolbag. All of that is cut with buzzy acidity. Water is in the same vein: chalky, powdery lemon and more mineral-like.

    Palate

    It opens well, though you get the sense of it being slightly fragile. The acidity and heat is there, and actually more cask than you expect, which adds a milky, almost cheesy softness to proceedings. Water improves things considerably with trifle fruits, then strawberry and some gooseberry fool.

    Finish

    Slightly steely.

    Conclusion

    It teeters on the brink of being off, but saves itself. That said, it’s one of those pleasant enough but kind of ‘meh’ whiskies.

    Right place, right time

    A chilly day on an outside court at Wimbledon.

    James Eadie Trade Mark X

    James Eadie Trade Mark X
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45.6%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Rich, dark, brooding. Sulking in the glass with touches of molasses and black banana, then flames licking around a flambéd Christmas pudding. After a bit, you get some green smoke – sappy branches snapping in the flames. It’s certainly not shy. Water lightens and opens, bringing in rich mandarin and an until now hidden sense of refinement.

    Palate

    Velvety and tongue-clinging. As it rolls across the mouth, the savoury smoke billows, shifting into charred embers and then a meaty character reminiscent of Suffolk cured back bacon. Behind this, there’s a richly sweet backdrop that slowly asserts itself, as if someone’s poured PX Sherry over that flaming pud. Water is like rain falling on glowing embers, and paradoxically dries things out a little.

    Finish

    More smoke and a rummy sweetness.

    Conclusion

    The reconstruction of a blend first made in 1854, registered in 1877 and discontinued in 1947. Powerful and characterful, it’s a whisky for single malt snobs who think they don’t like blends – especially when you tell them that the price is lower than the abv.

    Right place, right time

    Rich, layered, smoky and utterly distinctive. It’s Tom Waits in a bottle. ‘Ain’t no good thing ever dies…’

    Richard Woodard

    Linkwood 24 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Linkwood 24 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    A little closed and cask-driven initially, but there’s some floral action in here: hyacinth and lily of the valley to be precise, which adds a certain roundedness to proceedings. There’s also a touch of peeled bark, then a mix of dessert apple and perry cider. In other words, some complexity and subtle weight. Water brings out hot massage oil, then more soft toffee.

    Palate

    A fine, sweet concentration with this Milky Way-like mousse effect, some apricot skin and much-needed lift of alcohol, though this does slightly obscure the more delicate elements. Water brings out a slightly firmer quality than you often see on Linkwood, but there’s some Comice pear as well as a little touch of oak.

    Finish

    Clean and crisp.

    Conclusion

    Subtle and easily overlooked.

    Right place, right time

    The blue car got it right. You’ll see the red car in the next tasting note…

    Strathclyde 28 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Strathclyde 28 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Fat and buttery, with masses of banana split topped with toffee/butterscotch syrup, then caramel flan, cronuts and then an overpowering hit of coconut, followed by smooshed up sweetcorn which adds a Canadian kind of kick. There’s some toastiness from the oak, but everything is pretty blowsy. Water boosts everything and makes it almost sickly.

    Palate

    As sweet as you like, with the distinctive aroma of boiling condensed milk. A light, refreshing pause then comes with the introduction of orange ice cream and mango sorbet, before the banana and those cronuts come back. Add water and there’s even touches of foie gras on brioche (that’s how we roll down here).

    Finish

    Coconut, sweet, with light acidity. It’s Piña Colada!

    Conclusion

    A whisky which goes straight into the arteries. Completely OTT. Sugar fiends will love it.

    Right place, right time

    I do like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain, but as for your offer to make love in the dunes, I simply couldn’t after all that sugar.

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