A small label from the Netherlands, The Duchess is the independent bottling arm of retailer Best of Whiskies – who in recent years have also breathed new life into the Blind Tasting Competition. Their latest release is a big (and expensive) one, a Caperdonich 1997 25 Years from a hogshead.
When I started drinking whisky seriously about 15 years ago, Caperdonich had already become a rarity. Let alone Caperdonich 1972, a seminal vintage for the distillery. Although available, these bottlings were out of my reach at the time, but a steal compared to modern prices. (Even compared to what you’d have to pay for this new release from The Duchess.)
So, whereas the liquid from this distillery is inextricably linked to 1972 for some of my peers, I don’t have much experience with older Caperdonich. I’ve tried a few here and there, but can’t say I’m intimately familiar with them.
Instead, my frame of reference is mostly Caperdonich from the 1990s. And while truly all of them have been really good, they’re not as transcendent as the older Caperdonich releases that are largely responsible for the excellent reputation of this closed distillery.
Caperdonich 1997 25 Years (56.2%, The Duchess, C#30900)
Nose: A little dense, this Caperdonich needs some time. A gentle, almost floral first impression, but with a certain sweet fruitiness, highlighted by Werther’s Original, stewed apples, Demerara sugar, sultanas and sugared almonds. Also whispers of vanilla icing and orange pith. Taste: Fairly waxy mouthfeel. Touches of oak, some limited spices (mainly pepper), but it’s the fruit that wins me over. Much more vibrant than the nose suggests. Orange zest, ripe bananas, nectarines, and a hint of grapefruit. Also some crushed mint leaves and herbal tea in the background. Finish: Long. Lingering spices, waxy and juicy fruits.
I considered upping the score to a 9.0, but ultimately decided against it because it does have a certain unpolished quality. Having said that, this Caperdonich is one of the best modern examples I've had the pleasure of tasting. Now available at a numberofretailers.