The Cadenhead’s story is a colourful one. It involves bus advertisements, a tram fatality, two sisters & a long term employee, a ‘fire sale’ and an interest in empty bottles, to name but a few key happenings. Indeed, Hedley Wright [that name again], bought Cadenhead’s for its empty bottles but never found them. Further reading: Cadenhead.scot, SW, KWM.
Cadenhead’s worldwide output is naturally limited. Their biggest batch, known as ‘The Big Small Batch’, consisted of 1300 bottles from four Glenrothes casks. Last year, Cadenhead bottled more casks and released more whisky than ever before.
Starting bright & early [in May 2018], we found ourselves within the bowels of the Springbank complex, in a warehouse containing casks for future Cadenhead releases.
Strathmill 1993/2018 Cadenhead Cask [#262?] Sample 52% WB85.20
- N: This lightly toasted & honeyed > citric barley juice makes for a fine sighter.
- T: Mildly-sweet, lemon barley juice to taste.
- F: Decent length, clean & true on honeyed lemon – a touch sour – and bitter-sour herbs with water, though the lime-citrus cereal notes continue to move through.
- C: A decent natural/distillate-led leveller, albeit a rather austere one.
Scores 84 points
Caledonian 1987/2018 31yo Cadenhead Cask Sample cask #233878 51.7% WB88 WF80
Distilled one year before the distillery’s permanent closure [SW].
- N: A nose faintly reminiscent of yesterday’s 48yo Lochside [blog], yet far more youthful & simpler. In fact it’s an astringent one that doesn’t seem to have taken much wood information.
- T: Column-still fruity funk action, further revealing itself as a well consolidated/well bound dram, though with little else.
- F: Sour & rum like, is all I noted.
- C: This is one of Cadenhead’s last remaining Caledonian casks and still relatively young, going for £130 a bottle.
Scores 81 points
Paul John 2011/2018 6yo Cadenhead Cask Sample 56.7% WB86 tOMoH7/10
This has seen five years [bourbon] maturation in Goa and one in Campbeltown. Due to trouble with Customs & Excise, this shipment arrived from Goa in bottles that were subsequently emptied, re-vatted and re-released in 2018. The resulting maturation mix is 70% sherry 30% bourbon.
- N: Cider?, beer?, some pesticide use in the orchard, apple manure,… Add water however and it’s far less bonkers whilst retaining its unusualness – in a good way. Further notes include crisp flavours [salty vinegar Chip Sticks with a few Frazzles], and a little farmy peat. Fruits come through rather fine later on.
- T: This tastes not like it smells. It speaks of a clean dirtiness if you will with quirky fruits & quirky mechanics oils, funky tutti-fruity icecream and a little smoke.
- F: Though the Caledonian still lingers, the finish here is short, clean and heathery dry.
- C: A well managed curiousity dram that proved popular at £70 a pop.
Scores 84 points
Darsa 10yo  Cadenhead Cask Sample 58.6%
Credited with ex-bourbon maturation, we’ve rum from Guatemala – the home of Ron Zacapa. I struggle with rum after whisky though it seems to work just fine the other way around, as last night’s Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof followed by a 1991 Balblair testifies [notes to follow in due course].
- N: Oh, ok, it’s column still distillate through & through.
- T: Red & blackcurrants, and daiquiri-like fruity cocktails with water. Remarkably, it doesn’t taste abv-strong.
- F: Clean and short.
- C: Only my second Darsa, the first a Kill Devil [Blog82]. I find this sippable certainly, but perhaps it would be more adept as a decent mixer. Yours for £50
Scores 79 points
Highland Park 1992/2018 25yo Cadenhead Cask Sample 59.8% WB89.57 tOMoH7/10
These notes are an amalgamation from two sample tastings, taken 4 months apart.
- N: A mature yet super-vibrant HP with sugar-pumped raisins & cranberry [read those healthy food packets carefully], yet also with a subtle tropical & sugary-sweet, malty, lactose-fungal bung cloth side. A super refill snifter.
- T: Wasn’t HP once regarded as the ideal all-rounder? Water brings out a broad spectrum of flavours, namely bready/malty/>salty<lactose-fungal, the savoury sugary=malty-sweetness from the nose & now palate heavily countered with a bitter citrus note.
- F: Another short, bitter metallic & malty finish.
- C: A ‘big’ HP [check that abv after 25 years], which for £115, was keenly snapped up by queuing fans & flippers.
Scores 85 points
Not quite the tasting I’d hoped for, further disappointment confounded by hearing we’d missed the last dram [due to another appointment] – a Springbank followed by a bonus Malt Mill. We did however, have another Cadenhead tasting in the afternoon that would prove more lucrative [notes to follow very soon].
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