Saturday, 16 May 2015

Cadenheads 20th Anniversary Tasting

I went to a rather epic “20 + 1years old” tasting to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the London shop, the idea being the youngest whisky was the recent Springbank 21 year old (which I very much liked – you can’t try these “old” springers at whisky shows, it just doesn’t work).  We also tried the new Caol Ila 31 that’s been bottled in honour of the 20th anniversary, you can read my rather gushing review here.  They’ve gone through a bit of a struggle in the last few weeks with flooding but there’s some big stuff coming through soon – I can share with you the following teasers...

  • Something very big and old from the lowlands
  • A 40+ year old from Speyside
  • An interesting and reasonably priced sherry bomb from the highlands
  • A really special Miltonduff
  • Maybe a new Longrow Red?

Anyway, here’s what we tried – some big gear here…

Cadenheads, Tomintoul 28 years old, 48.9% A⊕+

I really loved this – I’m so tempted but goodness me it’s a never ending conveyor belt of big, tempting whiskies at Cadenheads.  Finally that Lafite Dailuaine sold out, that was doing my head in…

Nose – Sweet, dusty and beautifully floral.  Wonderfully balanced, juicy and refreshing on the nose.   Some concentrated paint.

Body – Sweet oak, dark toffee, slightly meaty.  Surprising but restrained bitterness and spice.

Finish – A little short, but blanaced and fresh, then some slightly over bitter/peppery wood.

Just the most juicy, floral and fruity nose.  Beautifully spicy, great wood.

Cadenheads, Tormore 30 years old, 55.8% A⊕

A vatting of two fresh bourbon casks.  Imagine having all this 30 year old first fill bourbon stuff just sitting about!

Nose – Warm wax, slightly sour, perfumed, sweet cereal.  With water, milk chocolate, sweet and peppery.

Body – Sweet cider, wax and fruit toffee, light pepper, woody herbs.

Finish – Medium, more sweet cider, lingering sweet oak.  Very well balanced.

Cadenheads, Glentauchers 38 years old, 50.8% A⊕+

210 bottles.

Nose – Deep, rich red fruits, boiled sweets and furniture polish.  Intense and very ripe.

Body – Ripe, sweet, loads more polish and a touch of bitumen. Dark cherry chocolate and sweet tobacco.

Finish – Long, deeply sweet and caramelised.  Sweet chocolate.

Cadenheads, Glenburgie 29 years old A⊕+

Sadly now sold out, primarily as a result of this tasting.  Widely hailed as the best whisky of the night.  Also, this is where my palate starts to give out – there’s only so many centuries of excellence I can gush about!

Nose – Very ripe, deeply sweet, orange and peach.  Juicy, fruity and beautiful.

Body – Sharp, juicy, intense mandarin, deeply sweet oak.  Epic.  Balanced and intense.

Finish – Long, light sulphur, great intensity.

Cadenheads, Clynelish 24 years old, 47.5% A⊕

This is another that really tempts.  A great drinker.

Nose – Beautifully light, juicy waxed wood.  More orange, lemon tart, extremely juicy.

Body – Sweet, spicy wood, rich liquorice.  Balanced.

Finish – Medium long, very poised, waxy fruit to the end.

Springbank 21 years old, A⊕+

Refill bourbon (Jim Beam) and sherry casks.

Nose – Compelling.  Bright, yet damp, lightly winey with red grape.  Does the Springbank thing so well – an elegant yet epic nose.

Body – Dark seaweed, rockpool, tasty and ripe.  Seville orange.

Finish – Perfectly balanced, juicy and resh.  Lingering white wine and crushed shells.  Just wonderful and very satisfying.

Mystery cask, 49 years old, 52.9% A⊕+

This is a cask held in London by a friend of the shop.  Distilled “somewhere in West Scotland” in 1966, it spent time in bourbon, then sherry, and finally in a rum cask, this has been heavily messed with but is very entertaining.

Nose – Dark, old books, sweet cereal, red fruit, cut plum, refreshers and marmalade.

Body – Dark, dusty, polish and red cherry, lots of wax and boiled sweets.

Finish – Very long, very balanced with lingering bright toffee and oak.  Very bright, very fruity, very juicy.  Love it!

Then we had the Caol Ila.

Cadenheads, Tomatin 25 years old, 51.9% A+

Nose – Sweet and beautifully bright, good cereal, warm dust.

Body – Ripe, quite hard cereal, stonefruit.  Structured.

Finish – Long, satisfying and balanced.  Dark, spicy tobacco.

And yeah, it was great to meet the old man of Huy too!  Cheers!


  1. So is the mystery cask going to be bottled by Cadenhead's at some point? Sounds quite lovely.

  2. Nope, never to be bottled, we were told.
    Good to meet you too, Ben! Good summary, very enjoyable night.

  3. Nope, never to be bottled, we were told.
    Good to meet you too, Ben! Good summary, very enjoyable night.

  4. Nope, never to be bottled, we were told.
    Good to meet you too, Ben! Good summary, very enjoyable night.