Best in Show - top three whiskies from the Portfolio Tasting

Best in Show - top three whiskies from the Portfolio Tasting
Last week we were delighted to welcome more than 350 guests to our 270th Anniversary Portfolio tasting at Somerset House. As well as over 300 wines, we had, for the first time, a dedicated whisky room featuring 18 stunning whiskies from across Scotland. Tod Bradbury, Justerinis’ head of Rare and Collectable whiskies picked his favourites from the evening, three gems that stole the show:
Caol Ila Unpeated 15 year old, Clynelish Special Release 2014, and Cambus 40 year old.


Caol Ila, Unpeated, 15 Year Old, Islay - £100.00
Established in 1846, Caol Ila is hidden away in a tiny bay near Port Askaig on the Sound of Islay (in Gaelic, Caol Ila). This is in many ways is a connoisseur’s Islay malt. Despite being less well known than its more southern Islay neighbours, its whiskies are every bit as capable of fine complexity and distinction, with great character and depth at any age. For the 2018 special releases, Caol Ila created a small batch of Cask strength single malt, which was, unusually for this distillery, made from un-peated barley. Showing off the less smoky side of Caol Ila, this is nevertheless a complex whisky of many layers. On the nose it shows its true colours; fresh citrus, vanilla and green apples (a product of its refill in rejuvenated American oak hogshead casks), along with spice, cereals and orange zest. This liquid comes alive with water. Sweetness, ground almond and citrus peel notes unfurl across the palate, underpinned by the very feintest suggestion of peat – a mere whisper, but enough to remind you this is at heart a Caol Ila. A dark chocolate bitterness rises up on the long warming finish. A delicious dram.

Clynelish, Special Release, 2014, Highland - £500.00
Clynelish Clynelish was founded in 1819 and is our most northerly Scotch whisky distillery, located on the East coast of Sutherland near Brora. It produces a waxy, fruity style, adored by whisky aficionados and collectors the world over. This particular master-piece was created by Dr Jim Beverage, with just 2,964 bottles produced. It’s an incredibly complex cask strength single malt that displays all the characteristics of the very best Clynelish single malts in the market with the signature “waxy” notes there in an abundance. A first in its series, from ex-bourbon, rejuvenated and refill American oak, and ex-bodega & refill European Oak. Yellow gold in appearance, on the nose rich Madagascan vanilla, waxed green apples, drying smoke with a hint of cereal. On the pallet, a fantastic waxy texture with a touch of salt, big and mouth-coating with vanilla shortbread, hot toffee and sweet fruits developing with time. A big complex finish, all cedar wood, dark chocolate and spice, seems to linger for an age – incredibly moreish.

Cambus, 40 year old, 52.7% ABV - £750.00
The Cambus distillery was originally founded in 1806 by James Moubray who converted a former mill into a distillery producing malt whisky. Nearly 30 years later it was converted from a malt distillery to produce grain whisky and for decades it was one of Scotland’s most sought-after sources. Now silent, Cambus is rarely seen as a bottling, even more rarely at this age. Almost golden syrup like in appearance, its viscosity gives some indication of the coating mouthfeel that awaits. On the nose it displays big fruits, apples and toffee while on the pallet it is a panoply of pineapples, strawberries and guava, with a faint woody note. With real sweetness the liquid develops into sticky toffee pudding, caramel sauce and tropical fruits that dance across the pallet. A mighty dram indeed.