Around 140 AD, the Roman Emperor of the time, Antoninus Pius, decided to build the Antonine Wall to keep those alarmingly uncouth Picts sequestered as far North as possible. Ol’ Tony was just trying to be like his mentor, Hadrian, and a fortified wall stretching from coast to coast to seal off what the Roman’s called “Caledonia” seemed just the thing to cement his own legend. Sadly for Antoninus, but luckily for all those Caledonians, the Romans manned the wall for only about 20 years, then they retreated south. It was only a matter of time really, everyone, even the Romans, liked Hadrian’s Wall better because the food was really good and there were more bathrooms. (made that last part up)
Why the Roman’s chose to call the Scotland of the time, Caledonia, is somewhat up for debate. Some think it’s derived from the Celtic variant word caled meaning “hard”, therefore meaning “land of the hard men”. Most, however, think the term comes from the Roman/Latin name for a Pict tribe, the Caledonii, that may have been the dominant group of the area. In any event, the name did not stick around for long once the Romans vacated the area. Poets and Romanticists picked up the term again in the 1800’s and it’s usage hasn’t strayed far from that group ever since.
This special edition of Edradour’s 12 year old is named after the Dougie MacLean song, “Caledonia”. MacLean is a folk singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist from Dunblane who first hit the stage with the Tannahill Weavers. This song is from the 1979 album of the same name, MacLean’s first as a solo artist. Edradour is probably Scotland’s smallest distillery, with only 2 or 3 hearty souls producing only 12 casks of spirit a week, barely the legal minimum to be considered a commercial distillery. MacLean was invited by them to lend a hand with this special bottling of their 12 year old malt.
The Nose: Nice, sherried nose, pretty sweet and honeyed but not too extreme, just nice whiffs of juicy grapes, golden raisins, plums and dates mixed with toffee and a little cocoa (Heath Bar, anyone?). There’s a little burnt sugar bitterness as well as some faint marzipan cookie dough.
The Palate: Zingy. Quickly bright and spicy, this still has a lot of fruity sweetness to start with, but the fruit fades as a big, woody swell dominates. Acidic, lightly green and salty, and very mouth tingling, what happens on the palate is pretty different than what was happening on the nose.
The Finish: Dry! Surprisingly dry, but in a different way, really tannic and almost dusty…almost too dry really. There must have been serious Oloroso casks used here.
Thoughts: Interesting. While the nose was a little on the expected side, it was also rich and inviting. The lively, almost earthy palate and finishing dryness were different and enjoyable, but at the same time, they were perhaps slightly over the top for me in balance with the nose. A decent malt, this is the first Edradour I’ve tried, I’m looking forward to tasting others.
Edradour Caledonia, Aged 12 Years, Highland