Today’s dram is another Cadenhead single cask bottled for France. Bottled at 54.4%, the whisky matured for 16 years in a Bourbon Hogshead before bottling earlier this year. We have 50mls of the whisky available for sale, and can probably get 700mls if we ask nicely… And so we continue with the Brief History of Cadenhead’s, Part III. When last we left the heroes of Cadenheads, the firm’s namesake owner, William Cadenhead, had just passed away. On his death in 1904 his nephew Robert Duthie took control of the firm for what would prove to be an early Golden Age, and that is where we will pick up the tale!
Robert W. Duthie was born in what was then called Bombay, India. His father was Superintendent of the Scottish orphanage there. Under his stewardship, Cadenhead’s would become famous for its expertise in bottling vatted and single malt whiskies as well as Demerara Rum. The firm was already bottling single malts, but Duthie focused on producing a more premium product. The concept of blending malts was born during his reign too, and two notable brands were introduced: The Heilanman and the more exclusive Putachieside. The Cadenhead’s motto under Duthie’s stewardship became, “By Test the best!” This became a marketing slogan for the firm. Robert Duthie was so proud and sure of his product that he was confident boasting of its quality.
Duthie was an early pioneer in the Aberdeen area when it came to advertising. The Cadenhead’s brand and motto could be seen on theatre curtains, in performance programs and on the sides of buses and trams. Sadly, it was one of these tram cars that knocked him down at the height of the Great Depression in 1931 whilst on the way to the bank. At that point, the firm was not in good financial health. His untimely passing left the Cadenhead’s in the hands of two spinster sisters. They had no knowledge of the wine and spirits trade but wanted the family’s business legacy to carry on, so they handed over day-to-day control of the business to Duthie’s long-time employee Ann Oliver. We will pick up the tale here in the next installment, Part IV.
The Glen Spey Distillery is not well known, even to the most observant of whisky nerds. The vast majority of its production has long been reserved Blends, most importantly Spey Royal. Like the distillery, the Spey Royal blend may not be a household name for you as it is for the most part sold in Thailand. The whisky was the dominant player in Thailand through the 1990s, accounting for 80% of all Blended whisky sales in the country. By the turn of the millennium, its market share was down to 20% with 100 Pipers and two other Diageo blends Johnnie Walker Red Label and Benmore surging past it. Today the distillery is most closely associated with the J&B blend, which it is still an important component of. In the 1960s Justerini & Brooks (J&B), owned Glen Spey, as well as Strathmill and Knockando. J&B sales are not what they used to be, as the Blended Scotch whisky market continues to shrink, but it still shifts 40 million bottles a year, making it the 5th bestselling Blended Scotch brand in the world!
The distillery was originally founded as Mill of Rothes in 1878. s located in the Speyside town of Rothes. Its owner James Stuart & Co. became the owner of Macallan in 1886 and sold on Glen Spey to W&A Gibley the following year for £11,000. A princely sum at the time, but the need for distilling capacity was surging as the Scotch whisky industry boomed. In 2018 the distillery is one of Diageo’s smallest, with an annual output of just 1.4 million litres a year. Only three official bottlings have ever been released over the years, a 12 Year Flora & Fauna, a 21 Year limited release and the 1996 Manager’s cask in 2010.
Image courtesy of @frombarreltobottle
Cadenhead Glen Spey 2001 – 54.4% – 16 Year – Bourbon Hogshead –
Andrew’s Tasting Note
Nose: very honeyed and nutty; Quaker Harvest Crunch; decadent with marzipan and candied grapefruit; there is a floral almost minty profile.
Palate: decadent and very creamy; more Quaker Harvest Crunch, barely touched by the milk; loads of candied fruits both sweet and tart, hence the grapefruit on the nose; there is an oily coating, goats milk character and canned pineapple.
Finish: long, coating and decadent with more tart citrus fruits; big but balance.
Comment: it is easy to see why a blender would like working with a malt like this; it has a great body and lovely oils; the cask has softened it up and added nicely to it. – $12 (50ml mini)
Playing catch-up on our 2018 Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar?