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One of the most elegant, luxurious whisky rooms in Scotland has got to be the Tasting Room at the back of the Cadenhead's store in Campbeltown. Besides the myriad bottles lining the wall, there are also small casks with taps, allowing you to bottle your own; and a shelf of bottles with simple white labels, not otherwise available at retail. They also sell a number of "cask ends" in 20cl bottles - I guess if there's not enough to fill a full-size bottle, they put it in this little guy to finish off the cask. Clever! This malt was matured in bourbon casks, and like all Cadenhead's bottlings, is non-coloured and non-chill-filtered.
The colour is like an oaky chardonnay. On the nose there is more malt than you would expect from a 21 year old. Very floral, with savoury herbs, and some definite peat at play. Behind the vanilla is a vague malt-vinegar note which I am not crazy about, but it is tamed by water.
On the palate, much more vinegary, but with tropical fruits, marzipan and pie crust. That wee bit of peat carries through. There was an unpleasant sour soapiness to the last Glen Garioch I had (distilled five years before this one), and unfortunately there are elements of that here. Water tames that sourness a little - but not enough. There is some complexity but this could be a lot better. It is seriously missing that meatiness I love in the 12 Year Old.
The finish is quite briny, with paprika and other hard-to-place spices. Unfortunately, this is not a pleasant malt - briny, spicy and sour. It is better than the 1986 25 year old I last tasted, but I can definitely spot an unpleasant consistency in the spirit. I don't know what was going on with this distillery in the '80s and early '90s, but it wasn't good.