Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Antipodes Caperdonich, Mortlach + Glenfarclas

Paris Whisky Live was chock full of a dizzying array of offerings – particularly in the VIP section. With such crowds too, it sometimes was a bit of a “get what you can, when you can!” type scenario.

With the Caperdonic & Mortlach, my scant tasting notes didn’t even capture which “Antipode” they were featured… just the photos let on that both were in the 20 year range…

Dubbed “Glen Grant 2”, Caperdonich was founded by J & J Grant around 18978 next to the main Glen Grant distillery. Shut only a few years later in 1902, it was primarily used to supply parts to its sibling across the road. That all changed in 1965 when it was rebuilt by Glenlivet, updating its name to Caperdonic, and resuming production. Changing hands a few times, it stopped production in 2002 and then was demolished just 10 years later.  You can read more here.

So what about this particular cask, bottled by Signatory for La Maison du Whisky?

Caperdonic 22 year (6 July 2000 / 5 Aug 2022) Hogshead Cask #29480 57.6%

  • Colour – Copper
  • Nose – Quite shy initially, then increasingly fruity
  • Palate – Interesting spice, a touch nutty
  • Finish – Gently faded away

A good example of the fruity, nutty character Caperdonich is known for… what a treat.


I then moved on to another exclusive La Maison du Whisky bottling – this time for their “Chapter VII” series…

Mortlach (2012/2022) 58.1%

  • Colour – Brilliant ruby
  • Nose – Sherry and ” boom!” intense and unmistakable sherry aromas
  • Palate – Again – dark rich and heavy sherry influences, veering into rum raisins
  • Finish – Continued in the same vein

What a sherry bomb! Heavy and showing every bit of its age – in a good way!

Like all experiences at a whisky festival, this was just a quick “sniff” and “swish” so please treat these tasting notes as superficial impressions! More of a starting point than a well-informed review.


Glenfarclas 10 year “Family Cask” (17 May 2012 / 20 May 2022) Sherry Hogshead #2504 60.9% (LMdW) 300 Bottles

I hope I can be forgiven for just a few scribbles for this next whisky – from the reliable Glenfarclas family stable – my notes literally state only:

Classic sherry nose, nice spicy sherry on the palate – lively and bursting with character.

Check out more interesting experiences from Whisky Live Paris here.

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“Character of Islay” – Ardbeg, Octomore

You thought we were done with Atom Brands? No chance! I simply had to go back to explore their “Character of Islay” range! From their Stories of Wind & Wave series, there were two distinct offerings.

Alas like the others, at Whisky Live Paris it was a mere sniff and swish, so forgive the brief impressions… That’s the beauty and danger of festival offerings…

Ardbeg 15 year (2004) 54.9% Bottle 012

  • Nose – Robust character, proper peat with smoked meats, something herbal too
  • Palate – A delicious meaty treat, peppery
  • Finish – Long and strong

Can I just say – yum! This came at the close of my 1st day and was definitely the direction to wind up a fabulous day of tasting adventures. Particularly as it came after the Lagg masterclass where I was well primed for something peaty!

If you want this for yourself, may need to track it down at a fest as it seems to be sold out! However, it was once available for Approx GBP 315.

Octomore 9 year (2011) 50% Bottle 140

  • Nose – Fruit forward then heat, sea breeze, and vanilla cream
  • Palate – Burst of flavour – peat and then shifts quickly to fruity sweet, then more peat and sweet
  • Finish – Fab all the way through the finish

I wasn’t alone in becoming a fan of this dram. A well-known Parisian chocolatier pronounced this the specific whisky he wants to use for his next single malt singular chocolate. Oh la la!

What a wonderful opportunity to try this powerful yet eminently quaffable dram from Bruichladdich. It may be tricky to find, however, it once retailed for GBP 187.

What a fabulous way to wind up my exploration of Atom Brands:

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Darkness Sherry – Mortlach, Blair Athol, Cambus

At Paris Whisky Live 2022, the VIP section had an area dedicated to Atom Brands – best known for That Boutique-y Whisky Company which was celebrating its 10th anniversary! However, they also featured their Darkness range of intensely sherried whiskies.

Is it OK if I confess to being a bit confused about their new “Darkness” range? After all, That Boutique-y already has their well-known Whiskies, Gin, and now also rum… so why not build a twist on this? Nope! True to form, they don’t do the predictable.. instead created a completely new brand for intensely sherry whiskies – both limited edition vintage and then another line which are matured for only 8 years.

As they explain, their approach for their Limited Editions is:

Finished in Octave Casks that may have held any type of sherry wine, our Head of Whisky explores specific finishes (Oloroso, Palo Cortado, Pedro Ximenez, Moscatel or Manzanilla) chosen for their ability to enhance individual distillery characteristics.

These are unrepeatable releases that have each undertaken Darkness’ signature liquid transformation in tiny octave sherry casks.

As always, what matters most is what is in the glass! On offer in Paris was:

  • Mortlach 20 year 49% (Darkness) EUR 171 for 500ml
  • Blair Athol 18 year 49.4% (Darkness) EUR 105 for 500ml
  • Cambus 29 year 45.7% (Darkness) EUR 145 for 500ml

As it was just a sniff and swish, please forgive the light impressions… however enough to hope there will be future opportunities to explore further!

So… where did I begin? With the Mortlach naturally!

Mortlach 20 year 49%

  • Nose – A burst of flavours! Loads of sweet dry fruits, chocolate
  • Palate – Amazingly rich. Gorgeous and delicious – nothing shy about this Mortlach!
  • Finish – Resinous and rewarding, mocha

If this Mortlach was any indication, calling this an “intense” range was spot on! Stunning and well worth exploring. A mighty and most enjoyable Mortlach malt.

I then moved on to the Blair Athol….

Blair Athol 18 year 49.4%

  • Nose – Oh my! Also quite the sherry bomb! Strong sherry elements – dark fruits, nutty
  • Palate – Yum! Superb. Figs and nuts, like an indulgent chocolate bar
  • Finish – Fruity, caramel

A clear stamp of Olorosso sherry! And frankly, simply delicious.

And last but certainly not least, an aged grain from the closed Cambus distillery.

Cambus 29 year 45.7%

  • Nose – Initially quite shy, then opened up to a lovely fruit basket
  • Palate – Complex, creamy, subtly sweet
  • Finish – Soft finish

After the incredibly robust Mortlach and Blair Athol, it was quite a shift to this Cambus. However, once my senses adjusted to something softer and gentler, could appreciate the lovely nuanced character.

What an interesting trio! Whilst I miss the fun That Boutique-y Whisky Company labels can appreciate the quality of the liquid in the Darkness bottles!

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TBWC 10th Anniversary – A funky Ben Nevis 25 year

I have to admit, Ben Nevis isn’t typically my preferred style of whisky, however, there was no way I would pass up a recommendation from Dave Worthington! Or miss trying a 10th Anniversary dram from That Boutique-y Whisky Company after the absolutely stunning 45 year Grain blend or the delightful Clynelish.

Ben Nevis 25 year (2022) Batch #16 55.8% (TBWC 10th Anniversary) GBP 260 for 500ml

  • Nose – Mineraly, salted chocolate, then some fruity elements, then shifting to cheese with a dash of balsamic
  • Palate – Spicy and robust, meaty, more of that balsamic, a touch of tobacco
  • Finish – Nice peppery finish

Dave described this as a “dirty Ben Nevis – in a good way!” And I would have to agree. Well worth trying… very interesting.

What do the folks at That Boutique-y Whisky Co have to say?

One of the few remaining truly “old-style” producers in Scotland, Ben Nevis has arguably never been as fashionable as it is now, with certain vintages (including this 1996 example) earning devout cult followings.

And the official tasting notes? Entertaining and spot on!

  • Nose – Overripe oranges on the turn, waxy shoe polish, a little sour apple juice too. Hints of rancio, dried fruits, and balsamic. Funky!
  • Palate – Big, and meaty. Balsamic glaze, dried fruits, leather, tobacco, slightly earthy, waxy, and black pepper.  Ooh dirty!! Classic ’96 Ben Nevis!

About the label?

Our label artist Emily Chappell has taken cues from our long-standing Ben Nevis label that features a chap atop Ben Nevis (mountain), looking at Ben Nevis (distillery), drinking Ben Nevis (whisky) and holding Ben Nevis (bottle, featuring the scene again on its label). Here, it’s just the mountain itself in a glass, raised in (Ben’s?) hand for a 10th birthday “cheers”

Their brilliant cheeky “That Boutique-y Whisky Company” 10th Anniversary special drams were also joined by:

  • Clynelish 25 year (2022) Batch #11 47.1% (TBWC 10th Anniversary)
  • Blended Grain #1 45 year (2022) Batch #3 44.2% (TBWC 10th Anniversary)

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TBWC 10th Anniversary – The cheeky Clynelish 25 year

At Paris Whisky Live 2022, Atom Brands VIP section had a trio of very special whiskies bottled in celebration of their 10th anniversary! Starting with the remarkable 45-year-old Blended Grain, I next moved on to this cheeky Clynelish!

Clynelish 25 year (2022) Batch #11 47.1% (TBWC 10th Anniversary)

  • Nose – Such a treat in the glass! Orchard fruits, waxy with light salted caramel. Yum!
  • Palate – Light, lovely and softly tropical, with some cheeky tang and more of that waxy element, some salt topping up the sweet
  • Finish – Fruity finish

My immediate reaction on the 1st sniff was “I’m in love!” Fully appreciating this style is right up my preferred whisky style. Summery, classic and nuanced, it was pure delight. Something worthy and special for a celebration.

What more do we know? Here is what the fab folks over at TBwC have to say:

Come on now, it’s our 10th birthday, let’s pull out all the stops! Here is a treat we’ve been nurturing in our warehouses for years, a birthday celebration-worthy 25 yo Clynelish (Cline-leash)

Clear worts and long ferments start the process, while distillation involves maximising copper conversation creating an irreplaceable spirit character for the blender. As a result, the majority of Clynelish production is used for blends, mainly Johnnie Walker Gold Label but also as a backbone in the wider range of JW as well as Buchanan’s

As for the official tasting notes? Here you go:

  • Nose –  Waxy plasticine notes immediately! Green apples and butterscotch. Salty coastal notes follow, with hints of pineapple too.
  • Palate – Exceptional! Waxy pineapples and tangerines, in brine. Tart apples and a hint of walnut oil. Very classy!

Remarkably, it is still available… if you just happen to have GBP 380 lying around for 500ml.

Their brilliant cheeky “That Boutique-y Whisky Company” 10th Anniversary special drams also included:

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TBWC 10th Anniversary – Wow! 45 year Grain Blend

Birthdays can be brilliant good fun! At Paris Whisky Live 2022, That Boutique-y Whisky Company did this in style! It was also SUCH a treat to catch up with That Boutique-y Dave at the stand. I will fully confess to happily monopolizing some of his time whilst exploring their birthday treats!

Blended Grain #1 45 year (2022) Batch #3 44.2% (TBWC 10th Anniversary) GBP 190 for 500ml

  • Nose – Buttery and creamy, subtle warm fruits (white peach?), warm vanilla custard
  • Palate – Wonderful mouthfeel, smooth and sweet… lightly fruity and fabulous, confection
  • Finish – More soft vanilla and cream

I had no idea what to expect…. and was blown away. It was absolutely delicious!

I’ve had only a few whiskies above 40 years and this was my first experience with a grain blend of such a vintage. To add to the unique and “once in a lifetime” element is this blend is from two closed distilleries: North of Scotland and Carsebridge.

North of Scotland was a  Lowland grain distillery in production only from 1958 to 1980. In its short 22 year history it was “thought to be one of the more flavoursome grain whiskies” with higher congeners in the spirit cut.

Whereas Carsebridge (aka Scottish Grain Distillers) can trace its history back to the 1790s, converted in 1852 to a grain distillery, in its heydey possibly the largest Lowland grain producer. Closing its doors in 1983, increasingly rare aged releases can still be found.

What more do we know? Here is what the folks at TBwC have to say in their official tasting notes:

  • Nose – Gentle, with vanilla, white chocolate and a touch of coconut,. Fresh sawdust, tinned peaches. Icing sugar.
  • Palate – Fresh and fruity. Kiwis, blood oranges, a touch of mango. Jaffa cakes, vanilla and soft oak tannins. Delicious, like only old grains can be!

And would I agree? You betcha! What a fabulous experience to taste this piece of history.

Their brilliant cheeky “That Boutique-y Whisky Company” 10th Anniversary special drams:

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – ATOM Brands

My Paris Whisky Live 2022 VIP wanderings moved on to Atom Brands section – with their “fan favourite” That Boutique-y Whisky Company 10th anniversary selections then the newer Darkness range of intensely sherried whiskies.

Their brilliant cheeky “That Boutique-y Whisky Company” 10th Anniversary special drams:

From their new “Darkness” range, dedicated to intensely sherry whiskies, I tried:

As for their peaty whiskies? I knew it was too early in the day for me to explore, however, my lovely tasting companion and her exceptional chocolatier friend dipped into the smokey side and were raving about the Octomore!

Which inspired me to return just before leaving to check out the “Character of Islay” duo:

  • Ardbeg 15 year (2004) 54.9% (Character of Islay) GBP 315
  • Octomore 9 year (2011) 50% (Character of Islay) GBP 187

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Antipodes Chichibu Quartet

La Maison du Whisky’s VIP Antipodes at Paris Whisky Live 2022 featured a different kind of Artist approach with Japan’s Chichibu whisky and artist Aki Kurada – described as a prolific Japanese artist known for his murals, performances, stage designs, and work with renowned architects.

Curious, I knew it should be worth braving the crowd around this booth with its eye-catching labels and enticing drams…

I had intended to start with the Virgin Oak, however inadvertently we began with the heavily peated cask – oops!

Chichibu 6 year (2015) Heavily Peated 2nd Fill Bourbon Barrel #4660 63.9% (LMdW) 197 Bottles

The aroma was initially quite dessert-like – with vanilla, biscuits, and fruity…. then creeping up from behind came a bonfire. The palate had a very pronounced peat that tapered away into an ashy finish.

Chichibu 8 year (2013) Japanese Wine Cask #9664 61% (LMdW) 210 bottles

How interesting to try a whisky finished in a Japanese wine cask, though unspecified, it had a bit of character reminiscent of a merlot – pure speculation on my part!

Chichibu 8 year (2013) Virgin Oak Barrel #2856 61% (LMdW) 198 Bottles

You could really see the character of the virgin oak – the spice, oaky and rather intense on the palate, chased by a nice nutty element, and a resinous finish.

Chichibu 7 year (2014) Peated 2nd Fill Bourbon Barrel #3812 64.3% (LMdW) 187 Bottles

Much lighter peat than the heavily peated whisky at the start of our journey… also more balanced.

What an interesting zip through current offerings from Chichibu. Interested in learning more, after the event, I looked up what La Maison du Whisky has to say about the artist and whiskies:

It is no coincidence that this Japanese artist’s selfportraits have been chosen by La Maison du Whisky to adorn these exclusive versions of Chichibu matured in four different types of cask, one especially surprising cask having previously held a wine made from a Japanese grape variety. Like the different facets of a single persona, these four unique casks explore Chichibu’s knowhow and the very different temperaments of a single creative spirit. Produced with acrylic on canvas, the faces painted by Aki Kuroda recall the ancestral tradition of masks while at the same time affirming a very expressive modernity, in a style that verges on abstraction. They reflect an identity that is resolutely contemporary and yet nourished by tradition, much like Chichibu itself.

“My artworks are always the result of a meeting, a chance encounter, a detail that struck me or a face that inspired me… These self-portraits are in part reminiscences of the Minotaure magazine which I saw as a child in my father’s house, a Surrealist magazine published in Paris in the 1930s. I have been obsessed with the figure of the Minotaur ever since. Its features are mixed with mine. I don’t see anything monstrous in it. It’s simply a game for me to overlay them.

What an interesting approach….

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – Valinch + Mallet

What fun! Another independent bottler! This time via friends from Italy – Davide Romano and Fabio Ermoli – who founded Valinch & Mallet in 2015. I was tipped off that these guys were a “must-visit” at Paris Whisky Live 2022‘s VIP section… and while I only sampled two whiskies would certainly take more time to explore more the next opportunity!

I asked Fabio for guidance – something classic and unpeated…. he immediately knew to direct my attention to the Linkwood and Knockdu / anCnoc. What did I find with a light sniff and swish?

Linkwood 11 year (2010/2022) Sherry Cask #134 53.4% (Valinch + Mallet) 550 Bottles

  • Colour – Glowing amber
  • Nose – Remarkably heavy nose, wood
  • Palate – Burst of flowers, then juicy fruits, heavy and spicy hot
  • Finish – Sweet and sustained

This was no light, sprightly stroll in the park, it was a full-flavoured fruity, floral frolic in a hot summer garden. Nothing shy or subdued, just sheer summery exuberance bursting from the glass.

Knockdhu 9 year (2012/2022) 52.6% Bourbon Hogshead Cask #71537 (Valinch + Mallet) 376 Bottles

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Very fruit-forward, light, honey sweet
  • Palate – Fruity and fab! Balanced
  • Finish – Lovely and lingering

While young, it was fruity and joyful, a great reminder of how much I have enjoyed anCnoc whiskies over the years.

I enjoyed my wee sample and think it is well worth keeping an eye on these folks!

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LMdW Artist Series #12 – The Fierce Ledaig 15+ year

The last La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series #12 at Paris Whisky Live 2022 I sampled was a move to Tobermoray distillery with a heavily peated whisky. I knew this was the one to close – after this, anything subtle or nuanced would be lost without a proper palate cleanser! And it didn’t disappoint!

What more do the folks at LMdW have to say (courtesy of Google translate)?

  • Nose : rich, concentrated. Particularly intense and evocative, the first nose reveals a rather dry compact peat, rooty and at the same time of great elegance. Then, aromas of cherries in eau-de-vie and apricot highlight the quality of aging in sherry casks, very well integrated. Allowed to breathe, the aromatic palette becomes increasingly heady (lily, freesia), exotic (mango, persimmon) and superbly chocolaty. The whole shows a radiant harmony.
  • Appearance : orange copper.
  • Palate : lively, tempestuous. Percussive, the attack on the palate is a faithful synthesis of the nose. Very quickly, however, an increasingly chocolatey and above all more saline peat takes things in hand. In the mid-palate, it takes on medicinal (arnica), camphorated, animal (bacon) and empyreumatic (sandalwood, chimney fire) tones. The finish suggests a distillate with fruity (raspberry) and lemony flavors.
  • Overall : long, deep. Marked by notes of slightly damp earth, the start of the finish is subtly floral (poppy, cornflower, violet). The peat has calmed down, becoming more liquoricey and finely peppery. With its flavors of curry and ylang-ylang, the aftertaste is undeniably oriental. In the retro-nasal olfaction, once again very present, peat occupies the center of the palate, allowing the deliciously sweet juice of a ripe apricot to flow. The empty glass is nobly spiced (cardamom, saffron, ginger)

And this concludes my journey through the Artist Series #12 with:

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