Taste: Cadenhead's Glen Elgin-Glenlivet 22 year old

Monday, November 25, 2013

Last month Cadenhead's revealed, and then promptly launched, their final batch of releases for 2013. It featured a whole range of casks, distilleries and some interesting oddities. From the list it was evident that there wasn't a real rarity such as the Banff or Convalmore that we've seen earlier in the year, but maybe Cadenhead's are taking it easy on our wallets. 

Great news, and I wish Diageo would take note given their 2013 Special Editions pricing rip-off. However there are some rumours out there that Cadenhead's do have some rather special casks lined up for 2014 that might be part of a new range. The small batch releases have been a highlight this year for me and minus any lavish packaging you are paying for what truly matters; the contents of the bottle and nothing else. We've all heard some stories including a Glenfiddich 40 year old and a range of decanters? Whatever, if Cadenhead's do move into to a deluxe premium range, I hope they remember their regular clientele.   

Meanwhile, if I was going to pick out the stand-out dram from the October list it would be the 33 year old Caol Ila. I'm so tempted to pick that one up and at £144.50 it is very reasonably priced. Top notch whisky at great prices - a winning combination. Another great aspect of Cadenhead's is the ability to pick up a Cask End bottling for a reasonable price. So I could have bought the aforementioned Caol Ila for £48.50, or in this case the Glen Elgin-Glenlivet for £21.50. This means I can taste and enjoy several releases more than normally possible (as this is my money!) and if something doesn't go down well, then the struggle to reach the bottom of the bottle is minimised.
What attracted me to this along with the decent praise from the Edinburgh staff, was the rum cask. I loved the nose on the Balvenie Caribbean Cask at the Balvenie event I attended in Edinburgh during September. Rum also features in another October Cadenhead release and there is also a wine cask from Bowmore. This wasn't highly praised by the Cadenhead staff but from my brief tasting I find it pleasing enough and I will check it out sometime soon.

Glen Elgin is one of those distilleries quietly going about their work without ever grabbing the headlines. This isn't to say that their whisky is substandard. Far from it in fact, but most of its output goes to the White Horse blended whisky, leaving very little for single malt release. Diageo rarely release Glen Elgin, but on the odd occasion one will appear,however it is through the work independent bottlers that we can experience what Glen Elgin has to offer.
Distillery: Glen Elgin-Glenlivet
Distilled: 1991
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 56.8%
Cask: Rum
Additional: Not chill filtered and no colouring added, 498 bottles released

Colour: Amber
Nose: Cream soda, pineapple, a brief citrus note I'm thinking lime, sherry, caramelised oranges and fresh pine cone. Less rum aroma than the Balvenie but more to saviour.
Taste: Well, a wee touch of rum but it is faint, subtle and content to sit back adding body and depth of flavour to the overall taste. Spices come through such as ginger, pepper, nutmeg. Nothing bold here just plain enjoyable.

Verdict: This release really grows upon you. The rum influence is very subtle unlike the Balvenie Caribbean Cask for instance. Here it blends into the background, adding more weight to proceedings, content to influence from afar rather than dominating the overall experience. For the most part I enjoyed this release straight without water, perfectly drinkable at cask strength. Just one teaspoon of water encouraged more of the spices but beneath those there wasn't much else.

For critics of such casks, I do believe here it has added an extra dimension without taking over the show. There is other rum cask release on this Cadenhead list (Royal Lochnagar), bottled at 17 years which would make for an interesting comparison - I'll see what I can do so watch this space.

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