You’d have thought I’d have been done & dusted with last year’s Campbeltown Malts Festival by now, but then I came across a few loose ends in the form of three samples that came from a tasting I didn’t attend.
I can’t recall why I didn’t/couldn’t attend and how & why I ended up with samples from the tasting, but it isn’t important. It’s about time I enjoyed these three samples, more than a year after the event.
Regarding the ‘Wee’ tasting, Cadenhead said: ‘An additional tasting added to this year’s festival, the “Wee” tasting will showcase some of our hidden gems which have been bottled and are still available in the market‘. [Probably not now!]
Cambus 1991/2019 28yo Cadenhead Single Bourbon Cask 55.8% WB82.50
- N: It’s been a while since I’ve had grain whisky. This one is very chilled given the 55.8% abv. At a good age, not a great age [for grain], we have gloopy porridgy almost butyric glue in the main.
- T: Very chilled indeed. Little to talk about, just tasty calm mildly-sweet spirit that trickles on through.
- F: Continues on its mildly-sweet way,…. with no [more] glue, tannins, few vanillins,.. just simple sweet clean aged/softened grain whisky. This could be one to give to beginners, as long as it was appropriately watered down.
- C: There’s little to complain about, given how little there is, but it scores well for sheer competency.
Scores 80 points
After a previous brief encounter with this blend during the festival [WLP86], I find myself with a second chance to lament missing out on a bottle.
- N: A sweet vinegary bourbon-y [> sherried] start, so we are talking Pickleback [WLP]! Also, we have a peaty smoky contingent in the mix, present yet relaxed and congenial. It’s also waxy, fruity, and dusty – ‘waxed mangos’ making the headlines – whilst the pickleback makes another pass. There’s an [unexplored] aromatically sweet & spiced tomato-ey thing here too.
- T: Oh yeah, great. Being more of an entertaining bumpy ride than a shaky one, the palate goes cask, spirit, cask, spirit, phenols, cask, spirit,….. into a phenolic almost butyric sherried fruitiness. I can’t detect the grain at this stage.
- F: It appears we’ve a sherry and bourbon cask influence. Whilst there’s plenty of cask activity, it’s not obtrusive. Finishing clean, perhaps the grain talks at the death, but if I didn’t know this was a blend I probably wouldn’t have spotted it.
- C: Whilst retaining its youthful playfulness, this is really well-blended juice that I imagine has far older components inside than the 8-year moniker might suggest. One of those see-it buy-it jobs, a bottle wouldn’t last long that’s for sure.
Scores a solid 87 points
Last up is a 1995/2019 23yo Cadenhead Small Batch Benrinnes at 51.1%, recommended by a few peeps in the Springbank Open Day queue [see PIC] and still available in the shop at the time. Let’s see what I missed out on.
Benrinnes 1995/2019 23yo Cadenhead Small Batch [708 bts] 51.1% WB89.42
- N: This a summer/festival dram if ever I was looking for one. With floury marshmallow-fluffy pears, ripe yellow apples, ripe grill-warmed melons, a pineapple hint,… references to Balvenie’s 12yo Double Wood can’t be far away. Anything else of note? White pepper, a pinch of sea salt, lemons, and bananas.
- T: Balvenie-like again but oilier, and with more of the grainy distillate that talks of a light porridgy [Irish-esque] puttiness. The festival fruitiness remains.
- F: Some light sewing machine and > peanut oils join in the festivities. With some grassiness now, the wood has behaved impeccably with a porridgy mash at the final furlong.
- C: An effortless festival Benrinnes, no doubt going for a steal at the time.
Scores 89 points