[The] Caledonian Ob. 40% [5cl] WB94
Whilst SW tells us Caledonian ’,… has never been bottled as a single grain, save for a commemorative bottling for the 1986 Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh, while Diageo released a 40-year-old, 1974 vintage under ‘The Cally’ label, as part of its 2015 Special Releases’,
,… there are two additional officially recognised releases, namely, an obscure 15yo Pride of Place miniature [WB] and this one – bottled as a miniature and as a 75cl bottle at 40% [date unknown].
- N: Accessibly light with a soft savoury sweetness, this is typical of young gluey sawdusty grain. Little else to talk about.
- T: Persistently stings the roof of the mouth, neat, and is largely flavourless save for a faint cereal note.
- F: Little-to-no flavour, just chilli & wood spice sensations.
- C: Well, that was a letdown and it’s no bad sample. There’s simply nothing going on here.
No score [<50]
Dumbarton 2000/2021 20yo VMWC ‘The Cooper’s Choice’ cask #211094 [246 bts] 58.5% WB85
- N: In short, we’ve toasted nuts & cereals, vanilla custard~cream, soft [baked] apples, and mild acetone.
- T: Naturally there’s some astringency, but those 20 years in cask haven’t been unproductive. Add a little water for a more creamy delivery if somewhat metallic, bitter, and fizzy. Dilute further, say 50/50, for a more favoured ‘essence-of’.
- F: Some green bitterness right at the back of the palate and more so if only slightly diluted though it also remains relatively creamy and mildly sweet.
- C: Though not un-agreeable, it’s one you needn’t trouble yourself over.
Scores 79 points
Garnheath 1969/2009 40yo DL TOGC #15650 [154 bts] 51.6% WB88.14
154 bottles! That’s a small outturn and no sign of a sister cask on Whiskybase as far as I can tell. To date, I’ve only tried one Garnheath, twice [WLP188 WLP288]. Garnheath’s oldest listed vintage is 1967, so we are near to this now-closed distillery’s founding years. What else? Closing just 22 years after opening, Garnheath was demolished by Inverhouse Distillers in 1986. The distillery also housed pot stills to make single malt whisky under the names Glen Flagler and Killyloch. Further reading: SW tells us:
- N: Hard to read at first but I’m not greatly tempted to add water. Not a great deal beyond the usual suspects at first, I’d never have guessed such a high abv. At first, it’s pretty oaky – in a characterful way – and with a little vanilla milk, but give it an hour and here come [plum] fruits, [rich and low-grade] chocolate, barley sugar, a little plasticine,… You’ll find other stuff if you’re so inclined but the main takeaway on the nose is that of an inviting grain that alludes to a single malt.
- T: Certainly not far off single malt in style, though if it was, I’d be guessing the age around 18-20 years and not 40. Furthermore, style-wise it’s got something of a new [single malt] distillery profile about it – youthful yet with the illusion of maturity. Perhaps the 1st-fill cask that is credited was a finishing affair? Water helps to bring out the cereal sugars and a surge in energy.
- F: It continues, unwavering, with a woody malt-like milky chew, eventually finding its way towards a barley sugar demise after a final show of endurance
- C: Having started off so innocuously, we’ve a grain [going on a single malt] that grows on you. Not as expected, it’s one that exceeds expectations. A pleasure to try and enjoy yet another piece in the jigsaw of whisky history. With thanks to Malt Martin.
Scores 88 points
It turns out I have another Garnheath miniature in collection, but given they are going for hundreds – yep, hundreds of pounds for 5cls – I pause for thought.
Port Dundas 1965/2011 46yo Scott’s Selection 43.4% WB88.27
This is easily the oldest Port Dundas I’ve enjoyed, beating a 1973 32yo [WLP89] I loved in the early years of my whisky journey by 8 years. Interestingly, the oldest vintage listed on Whiskybase is from 1964 even though the distillery was founded in 1811. Closed in 2011, it managed to stay in operation for most of its 200-year history. Once Scotland’s largest whisky distillery, not even two world wars or two fires could abate the distillery’s development.
- N: Reminiscent of a single cask 1977 Strathclyde [WLP288 WLP387], except this one appears more potent and forthcoming. The colour suggests and nosing confirms there’s been some [sherry > port] grape intervention. Beyond the oozing grapes, we’ve sun-baked tropical fruits, drying glues of which a number of old brands come to mind, and a small tea shop. After not a huge shopping list of descriptors, as moreish as the aromas are, I’m left wondering how much of the underlying spirit will translate on the palate.
- T: Well well, there is cask talk and there is spirit talk. We have balance, of sorts, and there’s enjoyment is to be had over some dry gluey dry woody prunes, Umeshu [WLP] plum jam into entrenched though not overly woody vanilla cream. Get the water management right and you’re at the heart of the alchemy between cereals and oak extract. There’s some magic here.
- F: Thinning out considerably, and fast, doesn’t stop its flow. Flickers of confectionary brands here and there, [Milky Bar] white chocolate-soaked sawdust leads to a drying gacky film on the palate. Dry woody barley sugar to end.
- C: Rather curious from start to finish but I wouldn’t knock it for that. Like the Garnheath, this is not as expected and exceeds expectations. I can imagine going on quite a journey with a bottle like this when they were going for around £110-120 back in the day. At today’s prices, I’d pass.
Scores 87 points