Cadenheads Ardbeg 29yo Authentic Collection August 2023 & Cadenheads Strathclyde 34yo Authentic Collection August 2023


There's been a lot of buzz behind this new 29yo Ardbeg from Cadenheads August 2023 Authentic Collection release... so instead of our usual full release, shorter style reviews, we've dove deep into this dram. We've paired it with the new 34yo Strathclyde from the same release, and will look at the other drams next week.

Cadenheads Ardbeg 29yo Authentic Collection August 2023

Region: Islay

ABV: 51.5%

Price: £1000.00

A 1993 Ardbeg that has spent its life in a bourbon barrel and was bottled at 29 years old in 2023. One hundred sixty-four bottles were released.

Nose

Initially we're getting marshmallows, smoked bacon cooking in butter, kippers, wet soil, bonfire smoke, and burnt newspapers. Time in the glass reveals a little pepper spice, chili salt, hazelnuts, hay, lime, and candy floss. There's something here that reminds us a little of Laphroaig. Like the Ardbegs we've tried from this era, we're finding the dram has really held onto its peat.

Palate

On the palate, we're getting lavender, s'mores, sugar syrup, smoky bacon crisps, golden syrup, fennel, and bonfire smoke. The long finish has lots of sweetness and peat lingering. This has great alcohol integration, and we would have never guessed it was 51.5%. It also has a lovely mouthfeel. Some may argue it's a touch dry, but personally, we love it.

Nose (with water)

Reduction brings out some warehouse funk and more of the butter. The bacon notes have disappeared, and there's now more earthy smoke alongside the bonfire smoke we got previously. We're also getting dry twigs, salted peanuts, rock salt, and seawater. There's less sweetness here now, but we're still enjoying nosing this.

Palate (with water)

When reduced, the mouthfeel has now gained a nice syrupy quality, but it's also spicier, with the smoke becoming burnt embers… it's like the death throes of a bonfire. The finish remains of good length. This is still good, but we'd skip water.

Conclusion

Given the price, we didn't want to enjoy this. Sadly, we failed spectacularly. This will most likely be on our top 10 drams of 2023 list by the year's end. It's an easy 9/10 for us.

Score: 9/10

Value

It’s nothing that we could recommend buying at a grand, but is better value than a distillery bottling. Sadly we also seem to be moving into an era of even crazier pricing. We recently saw a 34yo BenRiach in bourbon for £895.


Cadenheads Strathclyde 34yo Authentic Collection August 2023

Region: Lowlands

ABV: 51.1%

Price: £170.00

This is a 34yo Strathclyde that was transferred to an oloroso Hogshead in March 2022.

Nose

On the nose, there are pomegranates, raisins, cranberries, and treacle. With a little time, notes of dark chocolate, butter, and red cola start to appear. There's good integration between the grain and cask here, but the sherry is more dominant.

Palate

On the palate, we're getting more of that red cola, cloves, aniseed, liquorice, raisins, and mint. There's ginger spice on the finish along with some grain sweetness. It's a little hot for us. It has a good mouthfeel, but most of the grain notes have been covered by the sherry, only really appearing on the finish. Still, it's a very enjoyable dram.

Nose (with water)

When reduced, there's now treacle, toffee, butter, and more liquorice. As it sits in the glass, we start to notice a little beef gravy, along with some dandelion and burdock, but really, water hasn't done a huge amount to change the nose.

Palate (with water)

On the palate, there are notes of toffee brittle, ginger loaf, caramel, and a hint of menthol. The heat has been balanced with a little water, resulting in a sweeter dram. The grain notes are becoming more noticeable now and appear on the mid-palate. The finish remains a decent length, and the mouthfeel is still good.

Conclusion

This isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy sherry and grain, you'll really appreciate this. It's a great example of a well-executed finish. We’ll go with a 7.5.

Score: 7.5/10

Value

Sadly £170 isn’t bad for a 34 year old grain. Although a few other indie bottlers do offer a little better value.

  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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