File this one under “Random Whiskies I’ve Found While Traveling Internationally.” This single malt from the dearly departed Caperdonich Distillery comes from the Chivas Brothers Secret Speyside Collection. The line launched in 2020 without too much fanfare, featuring a handful of single malts from four obscure distilleries whose whiskies have traditionally found their way into blends (hence the “secret” part, I suppose). Caperdonich is certainly the rarest of the bunch as the distillery, which once sat along the river Spey in the heart of Speyside, was closed in 2002 and completely dismantled in 2011. The collection includes three peated and three non-peated offerings from Caperdonich, with this peated, 18-year-old, American oak-aged bottling being the youngest of the bunch.
On the nose, this is elegantly peated whisky with a beautiful balance of smoke and fruit. It’s soft and almost creamy with notes of pipe tobacco and wood smoke; the kind that’s light and inviting from a simmering, long-burning campfire. Underneath all that peaceable peat lies candied orange peel, warm ginger snaps, and subtle mint. The palate is more peat-forward but still measured and well-balanced. Peated single malt at this stage in life sometimes loses its phenolic punch, but this delivers on the chin with a windward draft from that same forest bonfire offering up notes of sweet soot and charcoal. Mesquite notes arrive in time along with orchard sweets – tinned pears and apple chips – before a long, honeyed finish of cigar smoke and overbaked apple strudel. They say you want what you can’t have, but this never-again single malt really is a great whisky. Re-file this one under “Lucky Duty-Free Find.”
A / $250 / secret-speyside.com