Better late than never [as the saying goes], here’s my idiosyncratic take on this all-important whisky show that occurred in London less than two months ago. This year, I made a conscious effort not to sermonise my notes [you’ll be pleased to hear], providing instead, mostly snapshots and comparative insights.
Given Pernod Ricard’s recent purchase of The Whisky Exchange [further reading] in September 2021, will The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show [which I’ve always called The Whisky Exchange Show – I know, sorry], now become just The Whisky Show or Elixir’s The Whisky Show, in 2022?
The Whisky Show in 2021 saw queuing at the back of Old Billingsgate. To be waterside rather than roadside [as has been the case since the show’s move to this venue] made the wait an even nicer experience, though it did mean potentially missing the bikers parade,….
,…. and the London Marathon – now an autumnal event – which took place on the Sunday. The new queuing system that was more in keeping with airport check-ins meant there was no ‘slotting in, in passing’. This in turn meant the infamous dram-share assemblage – which has grown & grown in recent few years – was a far smaller affair. Alas, I could only imagine what Phil Storry was pouring from afar.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
The efficiency of organisation at the show meant we were inside and ready to go within seconds of the clock ticking over the start time. I’ve no set plan this year so I am open to suggestions. Ex-Malt Maniac, Alex, recommends I go to Pernod Ricard for six, yes six Caperdonich’s!! – all at the Pernod Ricard stand appropriately enough.
Let’s get cracking. First up, three non-peated Caperdonich’s [as it should be], namely a 21, 25, and 30yo.
SW on Caperdonich: ‘It ran until 2002, the year after Pernod Ricard acquired it. The site was sold to Forsyth’s, the coppersmiths, whose premises are next door. In 2011, it was demolished to allow the firm to expand their business. One pair of stills went to the Belgian Owl distillery, the others are intended to be installed at the new Falkirk distillery’.
Caperdonich 21yo  Ob. Small batch CA/002 [btl #06030] 48% WB87.55
- C: Fresher in comparison to the 25yo [to follow]. Where the 25yo has found its happy place, this one retains an energetic [> frenetic] dynamic range with heaps going on. An excellent, exciting Caperdonich, and [relatively] the most affordable of the non-peated trio.
Scores 88 points
Caperdonich 25yo  Ob. Small batch CA/002 [btl #10200] 48% WB87.67
100% first-fill US oak-matured.
- C: An utterly ideal sweet breakfast malt that’s right up my street at any time of day. Not dissimilar to Wemyss’ 28yo Bunnahabhain [WLP90] or Whisky Baron’s 22yo Glentauchers [WLP88], anything that has reached the fusty dry dunnage-y honey stage without being woody, is a winner. Though I find the fresher more unique slightly hyper 21yo more engaging in relation, the 25yo is more the finished article giving it the edge on compositional grounds. Let’s see how/where the 30yo goes from here.
Scores 89 points
Caperdonich 30yo  Ob. Batch CA/002 [btl #0205] 53.6% WB92
- C: It’s commendable that Pernod has bottled the 21 & 25yo at 48%, and further treated the consumer with a bottling strength of 53.6% for this 30yo – take note,…. Glenfiddich [more on that later]. With a dry chalky side, this very old malt manages to retain some vibrancy as a result of the abv no doubt. Having tried all three ‘Capers’ together, I find it hard to imagine comprehending them in isolation. All equally commendable, they would make a great set.
Scores 88 points
Peated Caperdonich,…. what’s going on here then? This trio – an 18, 21, and 25yo – have been finished in ex-bourbon Islay casks, we are informed. It’s hard not to ask pourquoi?
Bottled in 2020, all three of these bottles were ready to exhibit last year.
Caperdonich 18yo Peated  Ob. Small batch CP/002 [btl #33197] 48% WB88.25
We are sipping from bottle #33197. How big can a small batch be?
- C: The peat is upfront, straight ahead and somewhat one-dimensional. Wolfburn-esque in part [who typically use ex-Islay casks to post-peat their spirit], the mouthfeel in comparison to the non-peated expressions is fundamentally different. More importantly, where’s Caperdonich’s fruity honeyed character gone, evident in the first [non-peated] trio.
Scores 83 points
It’s unusual for Caperdonich to be peated, as MM explains: ‘Sometimes bottlings can be quite unique though, like a Caperdonich 10yo 1998/2008 by Alambic Classique, which apparently was made from a very rare peated batch’.
Caperdonich 21yo Peated  Ob. Small batch CP/002 [btl #18255] 48% WB85.67
- C: Same again really if a touch maltier [+1]. Once again, the one-dimensional peatiness is the main effect. Check out whiskyvault who compare a Balvenie’s 14yo peat-week bottling to the peated 18yo Caperdonich, seeing the Balvenie as peat-soft/subtle by comparison. Good review, but no mention of the ex-Islay peated cask finish. One can’t help wonder what the whisky was like before the finishing.
Scores 84 points
Caperdonich 25yo Peated  Ob. Small batch CP/002[btl #1669] 50.6% WB85.33
- C: A squigy-er expression with a desirable citric vinegar note. In this older example, the peat is working with the spirit – helped along by that bottling strength of 50.6%, no doubt – but give me any of Caperdonich’s more ‘natural’ expressions any day. Was the finish an improvement?
Scores 85 points
With thanks to David and Shelby. What a treat those first three were.
What’s up next? More from Pernod actually with a trio from Glen Keith and Braeval, respectively, in Part 2.
6 thoughts on “The Whisky Show 2021, Part 1/11: Pernod Ricard”