‘Battle of the Brands’ – that’s my title, not to be confused with personal disputes between Katy & Russell.
With Mark Watt adjudicating, Jenna went head-to-head with Cameron last May 2018 at the Campbeltown Festival. Each ‘contestant’ presented a bottle currently available, one forthcoming and one personal favourite that was to become an exclusive bottling on the day.
On another scorching hot day, Jenna enters the warehouse to rapturous Germanic-style applause, to the music ‘Take On Me’.
Cameron follows wearing vintage-style boxing gloves to Eye of the Tiger. I was too caught up in the moment to live-capture the hilarity.
First up is Jenna, who pits a currently available Cadenhead Authentic Collection bottling against a Small Batch presentation from Cameron. Jenna’s first whisky love was with Islay, but she’s now partial to a Highland malt. From a refill sherry butt, she describes this as ‘a deliciously rich & fresh nose with a long finish’, and a great example of the Highland style.
- N: It’s another one of those sherry butts that tastes like bourbon, and a straight forward fruity number with leathery dunnage-y honeyed hessian. No arguments here.
- T: A little peppery heat to start, but takes water very easily. It does also work neat however. A classic aged dram, one we’ve all [hopefully] had a number of times, and appreciated.
- F: Very competent straight-ahead finish though still with some heat.
- C: A fair starter, though the problem is the peppery heat. Shame, as the rest is just fine. Ooh, I had this before [Blog], and with the same score.
Scores 84 points
Like many of us, Cameron is a big fan of grain. His offering comes from a credited refill sherry butt.
- N: This is sweeter than the Caledonian we tried early in the day [blog]. With dried fruit icecream & sweet glue, the sherry gives a soft desirable fruity chewy influence.
- T: Same again, sweet fruity glue, the sherry cask accountable for much of the profile.
- F: Sweet > sour.
- C: Good & very tasty, the desirable cask influence saving it from being a very one-dimensional dram.
Scores 84 points
Cameron’s up again. Mark jives that this is a lovely Glenturret, because it doesnt taste like one. The cask credited is a sherry hogshead, and it’s a cracker.
- N: Intense fruit vibrancy with all the apricots, jams & conserves [especially marmalade], dry-ish mango, aromatic spices,…..
- T: Easy drinking neat, it’s narrow yet concise, heading tincture/liqueur-like and also bone-dry. Not many malts carry that off.
- F: Maintains character & structure, and with a fair length given the constituents, on a dry fruity chew.
- C: A little treasure despite its limitations/flaws. I eventually found myself a bottle and polished it off fairly pronto [Blog].
Scores 88 points
Jenna’s up with a peated number from England – gasps! It seems the St. George’s Distillery [blog] name lives on in part, despite George’s cross having been removed from all subsequent official labels. Aside from the completely incidental yet unfortunate far-right/Brexit connotations, court cases in the US ensue over the name. Thankfully the distillery were happy for Cadenhead’s to bottle this as a disclosed English Whisky Company malt, therefore.
- N: Mark says there isn’t that ‘Islay-ness’ here, but I pick up a Laphroaig/Port Ellen-likeness, even if they are my simple associations. Either way, it’s a lovely nose on a fruity/farmy/smoky/peatiness whilst BBR’s Dan calls “maple smoke”.
- T: The arrival suggests something rather quirky, but I’d require a bigger sample to examine it properly. There are also herbal medicinal touches, but my palate focuses mainly on the smoke and a little nutty, husky dry fruitiness.
- F: There’s all sorts actually. Pleasingly, the barley is never buried.
- C: Absolutely nothing wrong here. Whilst I love that previous Glenturret for many reasons, this has no flaws.
Scores 87 points
Coming up later, things hot-up in Part 2