The second batch of 2021 releases from the Whiskydudes was supposed to arrive a few months ago, but Brexit and COVID-19 had other plans. But now they’re finally here: a Staoisha 2014 6 Years, Craigellachie 2006 14 Years and Inchfad 2007 14 Years. The flavour profile of each of these Whiskydudes releases clearly fits the autumn and winter seasons — heavily peated, sherried, or both!
Staoisha 2014 6 Years (61.9%, Whiskydudes, C#10166)
The heavily peated Staoisha 2014 6 Years from the Whiskydudes was distilled at Bunnahabhain. Even though this micro release consists of only 96 bottles, it matured fully in a sherry butt. What happened to the rest of the cask? It’s been re-racked in two first-fill Oloroso octaves, two first-fill Oloroso quarter casks and refill quarter cask that has previously been used for a Girvan that was released earlier this year. It’ll be interesting to compare this Staoisha 2014 6 Years to all subsequent, enhanced releases.
Nose: Opens up on a quick hit of spent matches, quickly followed by charred meat, liquorice and a touch of rubber. Sweetness from strawberries and raspberries alike, as well as vanilla pudding and a whiff of pineapple. Finally some walnuts and roasted pecans. Taste: The sulphur (spent matches) makes an encore here, but it works with the peat and sherry. Cured meats, seaweed and plenty of tar and diesel, but also subtle vanilla notes and stewed apples. Finish: Long, plenty of wood smoke and barbecued meat.
One of the rare instances were sulphur works and maybe even slightly enhances a whisky. An in-your-face winter warmer for the serious peat heads.
Craigellachie 2006 14 Years (56.9%, Whiskydudes, C#900942A)
Craigellachie is one of the distilleries that was briefly promoted to A-list status by its owner Bacardi, but has since quietly returned to the background. Independent bottlers thankfully still know the way to this Speysider. The Craigellachie 2006 14 Years from the Whiskydudes initially matured in a fresh ex-Kentucky barrel and was finished in a fresh Oloroso quarter cask for seven months.
Nose: Plenty of notes of crème de cassis with a whiff of cocoa powder and juicy forest fruits, but also raw sugar, dried apricots and some clementines. Finally just a touch of nougat and mint. Taste: Syrupy with subtle notes of cracked black peppercorns, followed by mocha, cappuccino and nutmeg. There’s touches of bitter chocolate and almonds with subtle forest fruits in the background. Finish: A whiff of tobacco leaves and ginger while lingering on brambles and berries.
Combines mostly sweet with some noticeable sour notes, while not becoming too dry or cloying. A sherry bomb, but fairly balanced.
Inchfad 2007 14 Years (56.6%, Whiskydudes, C#1072)
Inchfad might not immediately ring a bell, but Loch Lomond certainly should. This extremely versatile Highland distillery produces several different spirit styles, of which Inchfad is but one. Inchfad is usually distilled in the distillery’s traditional pot stills (they’ve straight-necked ones as well). It can be unpeated, medium peated or heavily peated. Judging from its taste, the Inchfad 2007 14 Years by the Whiskydudes was heavily peated. TheInchfad 2007 14 Years matured in a fresh ex-bourbon barrel.
Nose: Mature wood smoke, a hint of diesel and some charcoal embers with vanilla custard, but also pickled lemons, honey and some tinned peaches. Finally a sprinkle of hemp rope, pot ale and some herbal notes. Taste: It’s the salinity that stands out, but there are seashells, bonfire and mossy peat too. There’s a sweeter side to this Inchfad as well, with sugar coated nuts, toffee and vanilla too, brought out especially after adding some water. Finish: Slightly dry. Long with mostly cereal notes and lingering wood smoke.
There’s a maturity here that I really enjoy, especially because it leaves room for some complexity beyond the peat smoke. Not the PCP or medicinal style many Islay whiskies have, but with some coastal elements nonetheless.
Apologies for issuing the same score for the Inchfad 2007, Staoisha 2014 and Craigellachie 2006. I wanted to rank them, which is the danger of tasting whiskies side-by-side. Instead, halfway through this session I realised they where all quality drams. Of similar quality actually. So I landed on the same rating for each of them.
That doesn’t mean they are comparable in any way. Actually, they are very different, even the two heavily peated ones. But I’m not surprised all of them are good. Whiskydudes founder Edwin has high standards and values the integrity of his releases, proven by this second batch of whiskies from the Whiskydudes, which will be availableearly December.