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Friday 4 April 2014

Cheap As Chips: Cadenhead's 1973 Glenfiddich and 1976 Dalmore Single Malt Scotch Whiskies

Those of you who have read this site for a while will remember back to my 30th birthday. In the years leading up to it, I had assembled a collection of bottles from the year of my birth, 1979. Doing so wasn't too difficult (this was in the days when one could purchase a bottle of 1979 Port Ellen from an indie bottler for under £100, and an OB for little over that) and the army of drams which were opened on my celebration day would grace any high end hotel nowadays.

I'm not one of those people who perpetually complain about the price of whisky rising. I understand that it is a finite product and if demand rises, so will prices. Doing so, is like complaining about the current house prices in certain parts of London. 20 years ago, I could have probably afforded to live in, say, Notting Hill. But not these days. Do I complain? No, I just go and live somewhere that is nice and affordable. Move on. Literally.

The price of a bottle of whisky is not determined just by the demand for mature stocks, however. As discussed in a post from last week about the possible shortage of casks coming over from America (legislation tbc), cash-flow plays a major part, too. If more money is needed now to lay stocks down for the future, then you'll more than likely see an uplift in the cost of your beloved dram.

All of this is going to have an effect on whiskies from the year of my birth, 1979 especially when people like me actually go and open the damn things. More so, any Scotch from the 1970’s seems to have seen a fairly hefty price hike in the last few years and my thoughts go out to you if you were born in the 60's, 50's or, god forbid, the 1940s and you’re looking to purchase birthday bottles! My advice would be: stockpile now if you want something to drink on your special birthday in the future.

However, there is hope! The indie bottler often rides to the rescue of those indeed of a rare, old dram and we feature a few of them on this site every so often. But one bottler who we hardly ever talk about (in fact, I don't think we ever do) is Cadenhead’s.

The last time we had a wee drop from these chaps was down in Campbeltown after a visit to Springbank distillery. They have a shop locally and sell some quite astonishing stuff at exceptionally low prices. I used to frequent their shop in London's Covent Garden (before rent price hikes forced them out to Marylebone- see what they did there? When faced with a price hike, they just moved on...) but have sadly not taken the time out to check out their new London store.

Silly me.

Why? Because of bottling such as this:

Cadenhead's 43 yo Glenlivet
I discovered this wee treat behind the bar at the Royal Oak  pub in Dufftown a few weeks ago. Not many people have whisky dating back this far. And not many sell it for well under £200 a bottle. Yeah, you heard: under £200 a bottle.

So, what do Candenhead’s have in store for future release? Well, one of them is their most expensive bottling ever, a 41 year old Glenfiddich from 1973 which comes, as Brand Ambassdor Mark Watt excitedly tells me "in a cardboard box!" and is a single cask which yielded just 96 bottles, retailing for £450.

Glenfiddich - 1973 – 41 Years Old – Wm. Cadenhead – 96 bottles only - 43.1% abv

Nose: A complex nose of sandalwood, petrichor, old diesel locomotives, school desks and furniture polish. This is like sticking your nose into a 1960's ercol cabinet. Some orange peel, fig, angostura bitters... this would be brilliant in an Old Fashioned.  

Palate: Rich and oily, it starts off with apricot jam, dark chocolate-dipped candied orange, some more sandalwood, cinnamon sticks and ginger. Rich and mouthfilling, this could have been dry and woody, but it is as refreshing as a dewy walk through an autumnal wood at dawn.
Finish: Apricots, old armagnac and a hint of menthol.

Overall: Rich with great woody notes, a full body and lots of fresh fruits. Fantastic.

Alongside this release is a single cask 37 year old Dalmore, retailing at an astonishing £170.

Dalmore - 1976 – 37 Years Old – Wm. Cadenhead - 150 – 46.4% abv

Nose: Brandy butter, rich clotted cream, some marzipan and toasted almonds give way to the oak, which takes a while to lift from the glass, but once it does it provides a good spicy topline, finally resting on fresh pine needles.

Palate: Vanilla again, rounded with cinnamon and green apple, which quickly develops into toffee apple and light, runny honey. The palate also has an element of watermelon and pear drop sweets. Some custard notes, too.

Finish: Rhubarb and custard sweets.

Overall: A great dram at a stella price, this is all about the vanilla, cinnamon spice and rhubarb & custard.

So, if you look hard enough, you'll find the odd bottle out there which is extremely good value for a well aged product. Just keep your eyes peeled.