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The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a unique members only whisky club that releases an array of single cask bottles each month. Members not only gain access to this monthly out-turn, but also to the purpose built members rooms in venues across Edinburgh, London and now Glasgow.
I recently renewed my own membership to the society and chose to take the mystery bottle package. For £89 I got my annual membership (usually £65) and a bottle of whisky, which it turns out should have been £48 – a saving of nearly £25. The bottle they sent was Cask no 82.21 “Shed Soup” an 8 year old single malt from the Glencadam distillery in Brechin. Matured in a second fill bourbon barrel and bottled at 63%, this isn’t a dram I would necessarily have chosen myself but that’s the thing about the society, distillery names are hidden to encourage us to try new things, it’s about exploring flavours rather than following brands – “Forget all you know, or think you know…” (bragging rights to anyone who can name the movie that quote was lifted from in the comments). Variety is the spice of life after all, and I have faith that the SMWS wouldn’t have bottled, were it not up to scratch.
Glencadam was founded in 1825, one of a clutch of new businesses that sprung to life following the excise act of 1823. The distillery was created by merchant George Cooper though its early years brought frequent changes at the top, as it passed from one owner to the next. A. G. Thompson & Co. Ltd took over in 1891 and used the spirit in their Royal Blend products, remaining in charge throughout the closures of the two World Wars only to be bought out by Hiram Walker in 1954.
Hiram Walker was in turn taken over by George Ballantine & Sons only for further consolidation to put Allied Domecq at the reins. Allied however deemed Glencadam surplus to their requirements and shut it down in 2000 but fortunately it was saved from a lengthy spell in mothballs by Angus Dundee Distillers, who bought it in 2003. The move brought Glencadam under the same umbrella as Tomintoul for the first time and the two remain sister distilleries nearly 20 years later.
Glencadam stands around a mile from Brechin and in May 2019 plans were approved for an impressive new visitor centre that would develop existing buildings to incorporate a tea room, shop, offices, meeting rooms and tasting lab. The plans were approved with the hope that they would bring additional tourism to the area, though obviously that particular avenue has been closed off for the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless the future for the distillery looks rather bright and this bottling from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society shows great potential in their spirit when released at full cask strength.
*Full Disclosure: As an affiliate of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I can be paid commission should any of my readers become members or buy bottles from links on my site.
Smell: At 63% there’s a fair blast of spirit heat. Beyond that is an array of fruits… pineapple, apple and white grapes. Also lemon sherbet and fresh herbs. Cut grass. Touch of lime. Malty bread. Pepper.
Taste: Vanilla ice cream and digestive biscuits. Hard boiled sweets in those fruity flavours again… lemon, apple, pineapple. Slightly woody with warm peppery spice.
Value for Money: You certainly get a lot of alcoholic bang for your buck with this one. Despite the heat of it, the flavour profile makes for a great summer dram, though it will take a fair old splash of water to bring it to a comfortable sipping strength.
Glencadam is a rather underappreciated single malt in my opinion and whilst there isn’t anything fancy going on here, bottling from a relatively inactive cask has helped to highlight some nice complexities in the spirit. It’s almost effervescent the way the flavour dances on the palate. Maybe not a classic but I’m really enjoying trying something a little different, especially during this warm weather spell we’ve been enjoying in Glasgow of late. A nice example of what can happen when you step out of your comfort zone.
Buy Cask no. 82.21 Shed soup here.
For more information on joining the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, click here.