The Glencadam distillery (also known as GlencaRdam) is said to have
been founded in the year 1825 by George Cooper. Like so many other
distilleries, Glencadam experienced a massive number of changes in
ownership during the 19th century, but for once I'm not going to get into
that - not yet anyway...
A more interesting change in ownership (for most readers anyway)
occurred in 2003 when Angus Dundee Distillers bought Glencadam.
The distillery had been closed down three years earlier by the
previous owners, Allied Distillers. The fresh owners didn't waste a
lot of time and quickly resumed production at Glencadam distillery.
The 15yo OB that became available was from old stocks, obviously.
A press release from 2003 put it like this: 'An English company is to
reopen the (...) Glencadam Distillery, creating up to 50 jobs. The
London-based family company Angus Dundee (...) has bought the
redundant plant, which shut down three years ago. The company
intends to start distilling whisky immediately, after successfully
concluding negotiations with the previous owner, Allied Distillers,
last week. Preparatory work to get the distillery up and running will
bring further employment opportunities to the area.'
So there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak...
However, press releases should
be taken with a grain of salt. It’s
highly unlikely that re-opening a
fairly small distillery would actually
(re)create 50 full time jobs.
In the olden days distilleries actually provided dozens of jobs for the local
population, but in these modern times it only takes a few people to keep a
distillery up and running. Many processes are mechanised and a much larger
distillery like Allt A’Bhainne can actually be operated by one single person.
These days, most ‘whisky’ jobs are actually in sales and marketing...
That being said, Angus Dundee brought more than fifty years
of experience in producing whisky, gin and vodka to the table.
They have been distilling and blending mostly for their own labels
and private labels for customers.
A few examples of their 'household' brands are Angus Dundee,
The Dundee, MacKillops Choice, Glen Parker and Scottish Royal.
As for the Glencadam distillery itself; shortly after it was founded
in 1825 it was bought by David Scott in 1827. After a decade
under his leadership Glencadam closed in 1837. In 1852 Alexander
Miln Thomson purchased the distillery and in 1857 the Glencadam Distillery Co. was formed.
The take-over of Glencadam by Gilmour, Thompson & Co (blenders from Glasgow) in 1891
was the last change in ownership for over half a century. In 1954 Gencadam was acquired by
Hiram Walkers & Sons - who decided to start a renovation of the distillery almost immediately
after the purchase in 1954. They upgraded Glencadam distillery with two brand new stills in 1959,
after which George Ballantine & Sons Ltd. emerged on the scene as licencees.
Hiram Walkers & Sons were gobbled up by the Allied-Lyons conglomerate (later Allied Domecq) in 1987.
Allied Distillers operated Glencadam until 2000, when it was mothballed due to over-production. Three years later
Angus Dundee acquired the distillery; which has been producing single malt whisky again since that point. As such,
it upholds a long and proud distillation history in the Eastern Highlands. The neighboring distilleries Lochside,
North Port / Brechin and Hillside / Glenesk have all been closed some time ago.
Together with Fettercairn and Glen Garioch, Glencadam is
one of the last surviving distilleries in the Eastern Highlands.
Most of the other distilleries in the region have been closed
during the past few decades.
The distillery sources its process water from springs at
‘The Moorans’ and the Barry Burn.
Glencadam is located ‘off the beaten path’ and when I write this the distillery does not offer guided tours.
1) Glencadam distillery has been running '24x7' since 2005.
2) Before the closure in 2000, Glencadam malt whisky was used in
the 'Stewart's Cream of the Barley' blend.
8) The red chimney is one of the signature traits of Glencadam.
3) When Allied closed the distillery in 2000 due to a surplus of
production (all the employees except one were made redundant) many
people expected that this was the end. Fortunately, Angus Dundee
Distillers from London stepped in in 2003 to revive the Glencadam
4) Except for the standard distillery buildings and equipment,
Glencadam also houses a filling & bottling plant on the premises.
5) There are six stainless steel washbacks at Glencadam distillery...
7) Glencadam uses a fermentation time of 52 hours.
6) Glencadam has an oldfashioned cast iron mash tun.
2000 - Owners Allied Domecq decide to mothball the
2005 - A 15 years old official bottling is released.
2008 - The packaging of the 15 years old bottling is
re-designed and a 10yo is added to the core range.
The recommended retail price of the 10yo is £29.99 in
the UK and €35.99 in Europe. The RRP of the 15yo is
£42.99 in the UK and € 49.99 in Europe.
2009 - 25yo and 30yo expressions are added to the range, but both are produced in very limited numbers.
2003 - Angus Dundee buys the Glencadam distillery and
adds a large filling and bottling plant.
2015 - A new version of the Glencadam 25yo is released.
2017 - Glencadam expands their portfolio further with the 13yo 2003 ‘The Re-Awakening’ at 46% ABV.
Glencadam 14yo Oloroso Finish (46%, OB, 'The Rather Enriched', Bottled +/- 2010)
Nose: Light & heavy. Malty with light fruits. Not enouch character and personality to reach the 80's.
Taste: Very smooth but nondescript start. Coffee in the background. Irish or grain whisky? (I sampled it blind.)
Score: 78 points - I was very surprised to learn that this was finished. Just for one or two days perhaps?
Glencadam 32yo 1977/2009 (54.9%, Douglas Laing Platinum, Sherry, 296 Bts.)
Nose: Polished and slightly subdued. The oaky, woody notes dominate all other aroma's, at least at first.
Cassis. Some meaty notes emerge after five minutes. Subtle fruits and organics appeared after I added water.
Taste: Brilliant rounded off woody notes, almost mouldy. Smokier centre with an underlying sweetness.
After I added water, the fruity sweetness became more pronounced. This really is quite a good whisky.
Score: 90 points - this whisky benefits greatly from some breathing and dilution to circa 46%.
Glencadam 15yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2007)
Nose: Wow! Something on the outer edges of citrussy. More straightforward lemon later on. Grainy overtones.
A little grassy? Not a lot of 'definition'. Hint of dishwater. Rubber and cream in the background. Raw rhubarb.
Taste: A little lemony as well, drying out in the centre. A bit weak, but it has a long, solid finish. Very drinkable.
Score: 79 points - it falls a bit short on the palate, otherwise it might have made it to the 80's.
Glencadam 16yo 1991/2007 (46%, Single & Single, 75cl, Bottle #3790)
Nose: Light, sweet and 'grainy' - in a good way. Clean. Old fashioned honey sweets? Accessible.
Some apple notes emerge after a while. Not a very 'broad' spectrum, but nice development over time.
Hint of peat? No wait, it's chloride. This one really needs time to reveal all its subtleties & complexities.
Taste: Sweet, gentle start, solidifying in the middle. Smooth until the finish with a touch of bitterness.
The apple traits I found in the nose returned on the palate - together with some young 'sappy' wood.
Score: 80 points - it makes it into the 80's on complexity, but it's one for the 'bourbon cask' type crowd.
For my personal tastes, I really need some fruits and/or tannins in the finish to balance out the wood.
Glencadam 1975/2007 (46%, Montgomerie's Single cask collection, C#1)
Nose: Citrussy and veggy. Mild sherry. Very subtle - too subtle for me in fact.
Taste: Sweet start, becoming herbal before sweetening out again in the finish.
Quite interesting development. Fruits in the background. Smoothish finish - a tad herbal?
Score: 78 points - which is slightly embarrassing in fact, given it's more than thirty years old.
Glencadam 32yo 1973/2006 (46.4%, The Whisky Fair 'Artist Edition', 87 Bottles)
Nose: Sophisticated, growing fruitier and bolder quickly. Black currants. Cassis. This is lovely!!!
Taste: A tad perfumy in the start, evolving into a fruity centre and a dry, slightly tannic finish.
Score: 88 points - the best Glencadam I ever tried until 2006. Here the time in the cask paid off...
Glencadam 20yo 1985/2005 (54,2%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 306 Bts.)
Nose: Soft start on the nose, but picks up within seconds. Smooth. Opens up after a few minutes.
Taste: Smooth here as well, with a nice fruitiness. A nice, balanced whisky where nothing really stands out.
Hint of pine on the palate? Just enough tannins to make you go for an instant refill.
Score: 84 points - the fresh woodiness in the finish keeps it from reaching the upper 80's.
Clencadam 15yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Malty, grainy and fruity - and a little MOTR. Something reminded me of the Tomintoul 16yo. Spicy.
You have to work at it. Pine resin. Some more organics with time, then it sweetens out. Candy.
Taste: It's malty and a little bitter (lemon or lime?) on the palate. Drying out in the middle.
A fairly weak start, but it improves as it goes along. The solid finish lasts for a long time.
Score: 78 points - almost reaches the 80's thanks to an interesting nose.
Glencadam 15yo 1989/2005 (58.3%, Cadenhead's, Bottled February 2005).
Nose: sweet and mellow with a whiff of paint thinner. Not a lot of personality, I'm afraid.
Taste: I found loads of chocolate. This tastes a bit like liqueur filled bonbons. Lovely!
Score: 80 points - not terribly refined or complex, but very nice on the palate indeed.
Glencadam 15yo 1989/2005 (58%, Signatory, Sherry C#6014, 578 Bts.)
Nose: Subtle fruits. Hint of smoke? Blueberries. Developing complexity. Far off the beaten track...
It goes in the direction of some overly 'treated' whiskies, but this one doesn't cross the border into weirdness.
Taste: On the palate I found loads of fruits. Even in a blind tasting it was obvious there was 'wine' influence.
Score: 87 points - a hugely enjoyable whisky, but it demands time and concentration.
Glencadam 16yo 1985/2001 (43%, Chieftain's)
Nose: Light. Sweet and malty. Oily. Faint, old fruits. Nice balance. Organic overtones.
Cookies? Very pleasant, actually. A malty malt in the 'Gordon & MacPhail School of Malts'.
Veggy. Camphor? Much more powerful after 5 minutes with salt and smoke coming forward.
Taste: Creamy. Rather weak. Menthol? Nondescript start, evolving into a light sweetness.
Heather honey. Bigger burn in the center. Modest and not very pronounced. Dry finish.
Score: 77 points - good nose, mediocre palate. We've heard that song before...
Not enough personality and 'spunk' to leave a lasting impression.
Glencadam 1974/2001 (59.9%, MacKillop's Choice)
Nose: Rich, sweet and polished at cask strength. Adding water makes it much more 'alcoholic'.
Taste: Sweet and a tad oily at cask strength. Fresh. Surprisingly drinkable. More resinous with water.
Score: 87 points - this one needs a good dose of water and time to recover. It climbed from 84 to 87 points.
Glencadam 1987/1997 (40%, G&M Connoisseur's Choice)
Nose: Aroma flows over the edge of the glass. Sweet. Raisins? A lot of different elements.
Disappears after 10 minutes, but comes back with sweet vengeance.
Taste: Sweet. Long and warm, followed by a dry finish.
Score: 71 points - this malt would have done slightly better at 43 or 46%, or even cask strength.
My own tasting notes for some expressions of Glencadam malt whisky are collected on this distillery profile.
Those were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Glencadam I've tried over the years, but the notes should
convey how I felt about those whiskies. However, these tasting notes only reflect my purely personal opinion.
Your tastes might be different from mine - so it would be prudent to check out some other opinions as well.
Serge Valentin’s Whiskyfun website offers tasting notes on thousands of whisky bottlings, including Glencadam.
The Malt Maniacs Monitor provides opinions of several other aficionados on over 15,000 different whiskies.
But perhaps you'd like to read a little bit more about whisky in general or single malt Scotch whisky in particular?
In that case, you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky - 10 chapters filled with (almost)
everything you need to know in order to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky. Or, if you’d like
to dig a little deeper, the Whisky Lexicon offers more detailed information on a bunch of whisky-related topics.