Being in business for 175 years is no small feat, and doing so as an independent bottler in the whisky industry is downright impressive. Yet it seems that the company chose to play down the fact that it’s also the 45 year anniversary of the purchasing of the company by J. & A. Mitchell and Co., which is the actual beginning of the modern history of the bottler, as 1972 saw a ‘fire sale’ of the company’s whisky to cover debts, thus basically leaving the Mitchells a clean slate.
Founded in 1842 in Aberdeen by George Duncan, the business really took off under the stewardship of his son in law, William Cadenhead who ran the business from 1858 until his death in 1901, when it passed to his nephew Robert Duthie. He started actually doing independent bottlings and vatting his own malts. Upon his death in 1931, management passed to Ann Oliver who spent the next four decades filling the warehouse with casks of whisky and rum, which were then sold off in said 1972 fire sale.
Anyway, six very special and old bottles from closed (or burnt) distilleries were bottles for the anniversary, and I got to take part in a tasting of these expressions:
- Littlemill 26 – 1991 Vintage 52.6% ABV.
- Rosebank 25 – 1991 Vintage 50.3% ABV.
- Banff 40 – 1976 Vintage 51.2% ABV.
- Convalmore 40 – 1977 Vintage 56.8% ABV.
- Caperdonich 39 – 1977 Vintage 50.4% ABV – Sherry butt.
- Heaven Hill 20 – 1996 Vintage 52.4% ABV – This expression was partially matured in Scotland.
My personal favorite was the Caperdonich, so here are my thoughts on it….
Cadenheads 175th Anniversary Bottling, 1977 Caperdonich 39 Year Old, Sherry Butt, 462 Bottles (50.4% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Deep mahogany, thick and viscous.
Nose: Proper old shrry cask, with leather, tobacco, dark chocolate and a lot of dried fruit. There are prunes and sultanas, as well as dried cherries. This is a proper sherry bomb, yet it hasn’t lost its character to become only old shrry and wood. Excellent cask choice.
Palate: Old dried fruit, demerara sugar, leather and a deep dryness complementing the sweetness, with a note of dusty. Espresso and chocolate, with a bitter oaky note. Utterly delightful.
Linger: Dry dark chocolate, very dry with some of the old cask burnt wax notes, with coffee and hints of masala spices.
Did I already say delightful?
Assaf Erell organized a beautiful tasting of the six special 175th Anniversary top bottles, and I truly enjoyed taking part in it.