Campbeltown Malts Festival 2019: Cadenhead’s Club Tasting

For a change, we head down the east coast on the B842. Appropriately we briefly stop at Grogport before continuing on to Campbeltown. Last year [blog], we made the Club Tasting with three minutes to spare. This time we have more like forty. Tonight, Cadenhead’s have catered for 120 attendees, twice as many as last year. Membership has risen too. Originally there were 36 members. There are now over 1000.

Of all the people to sit next to, it’s Tom & Dawn from Yorkshire!! Just kidding – Lancashire!! A pleasure to see you both again.

As is customary, we taste whisky [and other spirits] blind and vote for what will become the next club bottling.


Aultmore 2006/[2019] 12yo Cadenhead Club Tasting sample 58.3%

From two HHD’s.

  • C: We start with a raisin-sweet, coppery and sour-ish young thing. “Drown it” says The Foz. Indeed, it shines far brighter with oodles of water. It’s amazingly youthful spirit that frankly could have come from any distillery anywhere.

6 votes, £45 a bottle. Scores 81 points


Cadenhead club tasting flight.jpeg


Speyside Distillery 1991/[2019] 27yo Un-Ob. Cadenhead Club Tasting sample 50.2%

From two HHD’s.

  • N: Mouldy and dry yet also with a first-fill resinousness.
  • T: We may still be in youthful territory though it’s also very fusty with > dusty old flannel notes. Most confusing. Really sticks to the palate.
  • F: This doesn’t add up. It’s young yet old with a tempered heat. It finishes with a particular metallic barley note I’ve experienced before. Glenturret?
  • C: Speyside Distillery, aah, that’s it!. Age-wise, I’m guessing this may have jumped from an old refill cask to a first-fill for some needed injection.

7 votes, £100 a bottle. Scores 81 points


Cadenhead club tasting.jpeg


Cambus 1991/[2019] 27yo Un-Ob. Cadenhead Club Tasting sample 77.5%

Mark Watt tells us that 1600 bottles is a very large batch for Cadenhead.

  • N: Long legs! Some reckon it’s a bourbon. It’s bourbon cask-matured for sure – from one HHD in fact. Is it a grain? North British perhaps? Tom plumbs for Cameronbridge and he may be right.
  • T: Yep, it’s definitely a grain, a very pure grain with some richness. It’s another strong one, accompanied by some garlic-associated heat.
  • F: Short and softening finish. 
  • C: Powerful presentations all these, not for the faint hearted.

12 votes, also £100 a bottle from a closed distillery. Scores 81 points


Tullibardine 1993/[2019] 25yo Un-Ob. Cadenhead Club Tasting sample 49%

From two HHD’s.

  • N: Now we’re in business. We’ve a bone-dry one with some decent maturation behind it. I enjoy the lime citrus putty bready notes.
  • T: This is more like it. For now we are in well-aged savoury & rounded-yet-rugged 86-score territory.
  • F: A slightly astringent woody finish.
  • C: Certainly well aged juice that could also be from any Scottish distillery. Again with a high abv, I get 19-21 yo Glenlossie vibes.

Around 12 votes, £90 a bottle. Scores 84 points


Cadenhead club tasting bottles.jpeg


Foursquare 2005/[2019] 13yo Un-Ob. Cadenhead Club Tasting sample 63.7%

From a single barrel.

  • N: Though suspiciously un-whisky-like, it possesses a beautiful subtle/gentle herbal sweet nose. The Foz writes a shopping list. For once, I simply take it all in.
  • T: This is certainly rum and it’s a good ’un. As for adding water, go for your life.
  • F: Expanding and lingering savoury-sugary finish.
  • C: I vote for it. “How ridiculous!”, shouts a viking sitting behind me as more arms go up. I was here last year so I’m acclimatised to these narrow minded & prejudiced views. I turn to him and tell him it’s a good rum. In fact, it’s very possibly the best spirit of the night. The strength [whatever it is], is spot on too.

16 votes. A steal for £55. Scores 85 points


Cadenhead Blend 1998/[2019] 20yo Un-Ob. Cadenhead Club Tasting sample 47%

From one butt and one HHD

  • N: Aah, back to whisky! It’s a blend we are told “Get it up, you monsters”, shouts Mark.
  • T: Clearly a lower abv than the others, this is a fine session dram. Water makes it stupidly accessible. 
  • F: Fruity & malty but it’s a faint affair – heat-driven yet not hot!?
  • C: It’s clear that not everyone has voted, but this is easily the most popular spirit so far. I vote for this too. The viking accuses me of voting twice. I don’t care. I’ll have as many votes as I want thank you.

£55 bottle for a 20yo blend! – very fair. Scores 83 points


Cadenhead club tasting list.jpeg


Bunnahabhain 2013/[2019] 5yo Un-Ob. Cadenhead Club Tasting sample 63.7%

One more then, a peated Bunna from two barrels. 

  • N: Young, phenolic, salty, oily, medicinal. 
  • T: ‘Guess the distillery’ games begin. Caol Ila < Kilkerran, maybe a young Longrow? Character-wise, it’s peated to the max with a new make-y youthfulness.
  • F: It certainly has the best/clearly defined form of all of them with lots of info at the end, no doubt helped by all the previous whiskies [and rum] still lingering on the palate..
  • C: “And only £240”, jokes Mark. Actually it’s £45. This proved very popular, possibly gaining the majority vote over the blend. Others like myself wonder whether it’s quite ‘ready’, so I’m reluctant to score it.

If pushed, somewhere between a no score and 83 points. Odd!


After a second vote between 6 and 7, it’s decided both will be bottled. Cue cheers and laughter. This has been without doubt the most fun low-scoring tasting I’ve ever attended. Now, about that rum!

With thanks to the Cadenhead’s.





Campbeltown harbour
Campbeltown harbour 2018


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