Caperdonich used to be a Speyside distillery. It was demolished in 2010, though it had been mothballed years before. Such lost distilleries are an intriguing prospect for the curious whisky fans, who savour the chance to try something that will soon be gone forever.
Six Caperdonich single malts have been released as part of Chivas Brothers’ recently launched Secret Speyside collection, which is available only through travel retail. This is a rare opportunity; Caperdonich single malts have not generally been made widely available, though it has found its way into Chivas Brothers blends before. Furthermore, two of the releases are 21-year-olds that are quite closely related—except one is peated, and one is not. Another rare opportunity here, then, to sample peated and peated expressions from the same age and same distillery. Furthermore, they will also appeal to more investment-minded collectors—Caperdonich is unlikely to come back any time soon.
The unpeated 21-year-old (SGD250 or about RM752) is an unusual Speyside—and an unusual whisky altogether. Bottled at 48% ABV and oak-aged, there is a classic fruity Speyside core to it, of orange, pears and vanilla—but overall is a surprisingly dry whisky, with a medicinal, marzipan-like touch. In a whisky landscape that can be cluttered with full, sweet, sherried whiskies, this whisky stands out.
The peated 21-year-old (SGD290 or about RM872) is built on a very similar structure—also oak-aged and 48% ABV—albeit with a considerably smoky, campfire touch that can be quite acrid at first. Islay fans will rejoice, but its bark is a bit worse than its bite, however—the peat is quite subdued, with a noticeable but mellow vegetal undercut, and topped by a touch of herbs.