SMWS Advent Calendar: Day 25

It’s Christmas! And clearly the SMWS believe we’ve been good all year, seeing as they put Enter the Fruit Lair – a 26-year-old Caperdonich – behind door number 25 of their advent calendar. Not only is this a bottling from the Vaults Collection, Caperdonich has also been closed since 2002. And even before that, most of their spirit went into blends such as Chivas Regal (it was owned by Seagram from 1977 till 2000). Which makes this a rather rare little dram. There are other independent bottlings of Caperdonich around, but they’re becoming scarcer every year. And thus, this is quite the little Christmas treat indeed!

Tasting Notes: Society Cask 38.33 “Enter the Fruit Lair”

ABV: 53.6% (107.2 proof)

Age: 26 years old

Distillery: Caperdonich

Bottled by: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Category: Single Malt Scotch Whisky

SMWS Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow

Chill-filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Nose:

The nose on this dram is absolutely spectacular. There is nothing delicate about it. It’s bombastic, but in a most distinguished way. There’s some banana, mixed with oranges, peaches, rhubarb, and pear. But there’s also thick layers of mascarpone and panna cotta. It’s as if some of the best chefs of Italian cuisine came together to create the ultimate dessert… and succeeded. I’m picking up some dried fruits as well. Like dates, figs and raisins. There seems to be no end to discovering new things to love about the nose of this dram. When you add water to this dram you can see in the glass how oily the texture of this whisky becomes. And it has a wonderful effect on the nose as well. That creamy note just becomes so apparent, that it leaves me hunkering for dessert. Somehow it changed from mascarpone and panna cotta to custard, but that’s fine by me. Instead of an Italian dessert, it has become the world’s greatest trifle.

Palate:

The palate is pure joy. There’s so much pineapple in here, you’d almost think you’re drinking a piña colada. But there are also plums, nectarines and wild peaches. And then I still haven’t mentioned the beautiful layers of honey and cream. Where the nose had lighter “European” fruit-cocktail notes, the palate took it down south and made it a Tropical fruit buffet. There are also some slight tannin notes, but they work wonderful to balance out all that sweetness. And the mouthfeel of this dram is absolutely gorgeous, it’s thick and waxy. Just the way I like it. Water propels the sweetness and cream forward. Like honey cream, with clotted cream, on a thin slice of pound cake. I can’t get enough of this.

Finish:

The finish is long, and a joy to behold. The bitter tannin notes can become a bit overwhelming though. Which is a shame because the pineapple carries through beautiful as well. But it has the shadow of those tannins over it, almost making it feel as if you’ve accidentally bit down to the centre of the pineapple. I’m not saying that makes it a bad finish, but I do believe that because of it, it becomes somewhat of an acquired taste. If you’re used to drinking older scotches though, you won’t find it off-putting at all. Drops of water do numb the bitterness a little bit, but it also adds a metallic kind of note. The kind you’d get sucking on a spoon as a child, when the dessert was particularly good, and you were hoping that somehow magically more would appear.

Verdict:

And so, we’ve come to the end of this year’s SMWS Advent Calendar. What a journey it was, and what a highlight at the very end. This dram has everything you can hope for in a 26-year-old whisky. Enter the Fruit Lair is rich, luxurious, and brim-full of flavours. The finish is a little bit a let-down. But that’s only because the nose and palate made for expectations that we’re nearly impossible to live up to. With a dram this good it is a shame that lingering in its afterglow is its weakest part, especially given that the finish is very long. Nonetheless, this nose and palate we’re easily my favourite of the entire Advent Calendar. So, I won’t be knocking of too many point off the finish of Enter the Fruit Lair. As it’s left me with fond memories that will stick with me for quite some time.

Rating:

94/100

How did I know this was a Caperdonich? Just look at the code and find it in my SMWS bottle codes list!

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