The Whisky Show 2022: IBs

Many smaller Independent Bottlers found the Whisky Show’s stall charges too prohibitive this year. Thankfully, Campbeltown Whisky Company – aka Watt Whisky – made another appearance and brought plenty of new releases.

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Let’s begin with rum as transitioning from rum to whisky is far more forgiving than the other way around.

C. A. D. C. SA Distillery 16yo CWC/Watt Venezuelan Rum 57.1%

  • C: Without any particular standout features, this is simply a happy place rum. A strong benchmark all-rounder, I’d expect this to appeal to a wide audience.

Scores 85 points

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Clarendon Estate 16yo [2021/22] CWC/Watt 57.1% WF86

  • C: Tropically aged for 15 years [before a final year in Europe/UK?], hence the price tag [£115]. With a desirable spirits divergence from rum to cognac in the glass. I’m tempted to acquire a bottle.

Scores 87 points

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Moving back to whisky now in the form of a single grain from a now-closed distillery. We are seeing plenty of parcels coming forth and at decent prices. Grab some whilst you can.

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Dumbarton 2000/2022 21yo CWC/Watt [222 bts] 57.1% WB86.86[10]

What’s this, a closed distillery [grain] whisky finished in an ex-Islay cask? Eek! “That’s on us”, says Kate. Reminds me of Pernod’s fairly recently released [single malt] peat-cask-finished Caperdonich’s [WLP].

  • N: This is fun. Both the grain and peaty/smoky elements are cooperating just fine, if not in conjunction, then side by side and without conflict.
  • T, F: Seriously fruity and ashy, the peat does disguise the grain somewhat.
  • C: Dumbarton, but not as you know it [Jim] – a bit weird but in a good way!

Scores 84 points

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[St. George’s] English Whisky Co. 12yo CWC/Watt 57.1%

  • C: From my experience, the best examples of whisky from St. George’s distillery have all come from the independents [not sure why that would be], and this is another solid example.

Scores 86 points

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[Loch Lomond] Inchfad 2017/2022 05yo CWC/Watt [300 bts] 58.2% WB83[6] TWE£60

  • N,T&F: This is an ashy blast,.. the perfect Bonfire Night dram. It’s susceptible [in some ways] to water, yet dilution gives way to desirable ashy liquorice and other delights.
  • C: Every Inchfad I’ve tried recently has been excellent and this is well worth consideration.

Scores 87 points

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Just one from Berry Brothers & Rudd this year. With the Girvan gone [boo], this is what BB&Rs Rob has been enjoying. On the label, it states the finish as ‘None’. Perfect!

Inchgower 2009/2022 BB&R Hogshead #301012 [227 bts] 52.4% WB84.50[2]

  • C: That’s Inchgower for you and in ex-bourbon. Good age, good strength, what’s not to like? Expect to see more and more Inchgower’s coming your way.

Scores 86 points

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For fun, the Single & Single stand saw a husband & wife head-to-head with a blended malt vs Ledaig.

Single & Single Cambridge Circus Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 32yo [2021] Ob. Cask Strength [btl #184] 47.3% WB89.17[8]

A Blend of 6 Whiskies

  • C: A yummy one if fairly straightforward/simple. I find this akin to Bunnahabhain’s Untold Riches’ [WLP90] and many other bottlings of that well-aged refill-bourbon ilk.

Scores 87 points

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[Tobermory] Ledaig 2005/2019 13yo Single & Single Cask Strength Single Cask [btl #346/640] 58.1% WB88[16]

  • C: A strong contender. Whether one prefers this over the other is one thing, but to respect both this Ledaig and the blend for their individual qualities is another.

Scores 88 points

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Having had the chance to enjoy whisky [already] from Ardnahoe [WLP], I followed up with some additional treats from Hunter Laing – another must-visit stand. With Scott in Cannes, Andrew is holding court. Always a pleasure.

Benriach 2001/2022 20yo HL OMC #HL19523 [297 bts] 50% WB86.67[3]

  • C: The IBs are where it’s at for Benriach. Here we’ve a 20yo going on 10 – i.e. so fresh! – with its soft appley distillate. Damn, it’s what I wish unadulterated Glenfiddich to be. A crisp cracker.

Scores 88 points

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Mortlach 2008/2022 14yo HL OMC #HL19622 [310 bts] 50% WB0

  • C: ‘Yummy raisiny distillate tickled by oak’ is all I noted – too busy chatting,… but that’s a good thing!

Scores 85 points

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Tamdhu 2007/2022 15yo HL OMC #HL19132 [775 bts] 50% WB83[1]

  • C: Delicious [hmm & aah noises] with a soft coconut oil thread in the middle. Price-dependent, I’d love to sink a bottle.

Scores 87 points

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Cragganmore 1995/2022 26yo HL First Editions [590 bts] 54.7%

  • N: Ooh, yes! Slightly eggy to start with a jammy quality and assured barley ooze.
  • T, F: I remark that this reminds me of some Cragganmore oldies I was lucky enough to try on location at Ballindalloch back in 2016 [WLP]. The couple next to me, who also took the same tour & tasting [but not on the same day], echo my sentiments.
  • C: Top draw Cragganmore! Bravo, Hunter Laing.

Scores 90 points

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The Ardnamurchan/Adelphi stand is always a hive of activity, and often a favourable spot to finish the day on [wink]. Having tried the Ardnagherkin the day before [WLP], and my palate reset, it’s time to try a couple of delights from Adelphi.

Glenrothes 1991/2016 25yo Adelphi cask #5118 [114 bts] 57.7% WB87.25[4]

  • N, T, F: With a pancake-y oloroso quality, we’ve an upfront sweetness and darker bitter tones to balance. Finishes with a deep floury dunnage-y old-yet-fresh dankness.
  • C: Great bottling this, reminiscent of Glenrothes of old [not so long ago].

Scores 89 points

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Fi recommends I “try the black one”, another bottle repeat from the 2019 Whisky Show [WLP90].

Blair Athol 1997/2019 21yo Adelphi sherry cask #5773 [200 bts] 57.2% WB89.76[32]

  • N, T, F: Sure it’s been ‘PX-ed’, but there’s more to this than a wine dump. Becoming bone-dry, how is this so balanced? “I don’t trust it”, quips one whisky peep.
  • C: Give it another twenty-one years in glass and we should have a Blair Black masterpiece!

Scores 90 points [same score as before]

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