Glencadam 21 year old is a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. It's nickname is 'The Exceptional' and it's bottled unchillfiltered, naturally coloured and at 46% ABV.
Nose: Pronounced and a little bit unusual. Orange peels, tobacco leaf, toffee apples and bubblegum – quite the mix going on here. There’s an underlying nutty quality and a sweetness which reminds more of well-aged grain whisky. The additional of water is quite transformative – pineapples, bananas and coconut shaving come into play alongside wild honey and the trademark estery Glencadam florals.
Taste: Full, rich, and very malty. The delivery of this whisky is fairly bitter to begin with, highlighting a very heathy dose of wood influence. Water completely changes this equation – remarkably so. The mouthfeel transmutes into a slightly oily and viscous form with a full gamut of tropical fruit – pineapples and bananas again. The bitterness has been diluted greatly and now shows itself in the form of pronounced oak spice – cardamom and nutmeg. I cannot emphasis enough quite how different this dram is with the addition of water.
Finish: Long and astringent. Again, water works its magic here and whilst it reduces the length of the finish a touch, it evens reduces the dryness into a lovely lingering fade.
Glencadam 21 year old might become my demonstration bottle for how water can have an astonishing effect on a whisky. I have to date not experienced a liquid quite so altered by H2O – neat, I’d score this a few points lower, with water a few points higher, so let’s even it out in the middle.