Review: Caperdonich Peated Single Malt 18 Years Old

Review: Caperdonich Peated Single Malt 18 Years Old

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.”

96 proof.
A / $250 /

Caperdonich Peated Single Malt 18 Years Old




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.


  1. Reb Mordechai on July 19, 2023 at 6:01 am

    Thanks for the review. I’ve just picked this up at the Frankfurt Futy Free for €135. Looking forward to opening it.

    • Drew Beard on July 19, 2023 at 7:52 am

      Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

  2. Reb Mordechai on July 22, 2023 at 11:59 pm

    Thank you Drew.

    I spent the Friday night and lunch time meal on the Jewish Sabbath, sampling this Caperdonich 18 and sharing it with family and friends. You always want a whisky that comes with a story as rich as this to live up the the hype. Alas, it rarely does. In this case however, the Caperdonich 18 not only meets but exceeds expectations.

    I more or less agree with your tasting notes. I didn’t get the green mint notes but this has become one of my top five favourite drams of all time with its luscious orange and yellow fruits (particularly sultanas, apricots, stewed apples), peat aromas and flavours, honey and apple crumble.

    I just love rich orange and yellow fruit forward, heavy, big bodied Single Malts. My current No,1 is the Signatory cask Strength Benrinnes 23 Year Old.

    This Caperdonich 18 is very much in that style but reminded me more of another favourite of mine, the dearly departed Caol Ila 18. No doubt Diageo have run out of Caol Ila 18 Year Old stock at the moment. I do hope they bring it back soon. I decided to bring out my last open bottle of this for a simply wonderful side-by-side comparison.

    Indeed, the Caperdonich and Caol Ila 18s do share similarities. Rich orange and yellow fruits, honey, apple crumble…, but the Caol Ila 18 gives you a completely different peat experience. The Caperdonich is more mainland peat, forest fires, tree wood smoke, whereas the Caol Ila 18’s peat is much more pungent, coastal and salty.

    The question is now, where can I get another bottle at a reasonable price?

  3. Andrew on September 8, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    Hi! Enjoyed your review.. but I’ve a question here.. if the distillery was shuttered in 2002, how is it they continued bottling this 18 YO in 2004 (Batch CP/006)?

    • Christopher Null on September 10, 2023 at 6:20 pm

      Distilleries may close but the barrels they produce still linger. In these cases, someone else acquired the aging barrels, continued to age them, then bottled them.

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