Cadenheads Authentic Collection Summer 2023 Review


Today we turn our attention to the latest releases from the Cadenheads Authentic collection.

These will not be full reviews as we’d usually do, instead it’s our quick thoughts on the drams available similar to our SMWS outturn reviews

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For reference, our scale is...

  • 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.
Linkwood 10y Bourbon Hogshead 55.4% - £55

The nose opens with fresh green apple, pie crust, digestive biscuit, fresh mowed grass, Haribo Tangfastic and a light floral note that we can’t quite place. It’s a relatively spiritous nose, with some fresher, crisper sweet and sour aromas to balance it out.

The palate begins with grape skins, hazelnut latte, marzipan, cocoa beans and overnight oats. It’s malty, biscuity but not too dry, although there’s some warm ginger (or maybe even gingerbread) coming through too. The mouthfeel is fine and the finish has a medium length with a handful of salted almonds and orange pith.

With added water, we’re finding lighter vanilla notes, carrot cake, appletiser and oak aged Chardonnay. The reduced palate has some more upfront sweetness, fondant icing, lime zest, moving into those drier, more biscuit-forward notes from before.

Quite a nice Linkwood. The typical grassy notes we usually associate with the distillery cone through along with some nice fresh fruit on the nose, and the palate continues onto drier, oakier flavours which work relatively well. Maybe a little too peppery and spicy in places, but a nice dram.

Score: 6.5/10

Value:

Decent value for a cask strength 10yo.


Glen Gairoch 11yo Bourbon Barrel 54.1% - £55

Mango, pineapple, butterier than usual Glen Gairochs of this age, candy floss, a little more malt than usual, alongside a whack of vanilla cream too. We’re also finding honey buns and marzipan as we continue to nose the dram.

The palate begins with malt loaf, tinned mango slices, grapefruit, quite a lot of almond, mainly in the candied form, but it’s drier than we would expect. There’s some fresher fruits that appear on the decent length finish, and the mouthfeel is reasonable silky. There’s a bit of black pepper spice appearing on the finish too.

Reduction brings out Lemon and lime, overtaking some of the more tropical fruit notes. There’s some banana loaf and slithered almonds here too. The reduced palate has a little bit of chocolate, honeycomb and pencil shavings, but overall we don’t feel like the addition of water has really helped.

Not our favourite Glen Gairoch, it’s just a bit too dry for us. There’s the typical Glen Gairoch DNA in there which we enjoy but something feels a touch off. Still it’s a decent dram and we wouldn’t turn it down.

Score: 6/10

Value:

Again, not too bad for an 11yo cask strength bottling.


Tomatin 12yo Calvados Hogshead (Since August 2019) 55.5% - £65

Smoked apple purée, walnuts, grape must, lime, moving into slightly overdone croissants and sweet sponge cake. We definitely get the calvados influence here.

The palate begins with apple turnovers dusted in icing sugar, apple schnapps.. it’s quite apple-y in general. The mouthfeel is nice, and the finish has a decent length with white pepper, lime zest and overcooked pie dough. We’re also finding a savoury, slightly warm flavour right at the end.

Reduction brings out gooseberries, a slight funk, pear juice, and a little hint of underripe strawberries in the background. The palate is now a bit drier, less overt sweetness coming through with more nuttier, pastry flavours appearing.. almond croissants maybe? We prefer the palate with a splash of water.

We’re not huge calvados fans, and the influence is quite apparent on this dram. Saying that, it’s got the hallmarks of a good quality dram, albeit slightly unbalanced in places. If you’re into apples, you’ll probably love it.

Score: 6.5/10

Value:

We have no idea how much calvados casks actually cost (compared to additionally maturing your whisky in sherry for example), but £65 for any 12yo cask strength release is pretty good value.


Ord 13yo Armagnac Butt (Since August 2019) 56.4% - £70

A little bit of funk off the bat, hints of rancio, brown sugar, prunes, cooking chocolate, some dates too. We’re also getting a touch of treacle and wholemeal bread. We wouldn’t have guessed an Armagnac finish based on the nose.

The palate begins with dark chocolate, hazelnuts, dry oak, black pepper, malt loaf and cinnamon sugar. The palate then moves quickly into brown sugar and grape must. The alcohol has a good balance, and the mouthfeel and finish are both above average. You’re left with a warming, slightly spritzy brown sugar flavour in your mouth.

Reduction brings out more of those fruiter wine notes on the nose, along with warehouse must, oak furniture but there’s now less sugary sweetness than before. The reduced palate is where all of those sweeter notes have gone to, and it’s a nice mixture of nutty, sweet and rich flavours bundled together now. It’s like drinkable cinnamon sugar now. We’re quite enjoying the palate with water.

It wasn’t immediately obviously that this was an Armagnac cask from the nose, but the palate brought forward some more of those warming, sweet distilled grape flavours through for us. It’s a well made dram, although perhaps a bit too spicy in places. Saying that, we’ll go with 7/10.

Score: 7/10

Value:

13 years, 4 in gascon black oak, this seems like a fine price.


Springbank 26yo Bourbon Hogshead 56.7% - £600

The nose opens with sponge cake, salted caramel, wet rope, seashells, pebbles, kerosene, creamy vanilla, with a decent punch of smoke that we weren’t necessarily expecting. There’s a lovely balance of sweet, salty, smoky and a mellow lemon acidity that keeps this 26yo fresh and vibrant.

The palate opens with zesty lemon, creamy vanilla, wholemeal crackers, olive brine, sea salt and earthy smoke. We’re taken back to the dunnage warehouses of Campeltown. We’re also getting some tropical mango and passion fruit flavours. Now for the negatives, it’s a touch alcohol-forward for a dram of this age, but that’s really it. The mouthfeel is luscious, runny honey, with a good length finish comprised of nutmeg, ginger ale and almonds.

Reduction brings out more dunnage warehouse aromas, earthiness, nuttiness, campfire smoke and burnt shortbread. It maintains a lovely sweetness amongst these other aromas. The reduced palate has a real briney, saltiness, grit, with a massive reduction in sweetness. More biscuity and smoky now. We’d avoid water personally, we prefer the flavours and aromas before.

We went into this not wanting to like it (mainly because of the price), but we can’t deny that it’s bloody good. Well balanced, good quality spirit, classic Springbank. Our only fault comes in the alcohol bite, it doesn’t present itself as a 26yo, maybe closer to an 18yo. We’re nitpicking now and have to give this an 8/10.

Score: 8/10

Value:

Non-existent. it’s just too much for a bottle of 26yo whisky, regardless of cult fandom.


Union 5yo Oloroso Hogshead (Since March 2021) 56.9% - £45

Sherry straight off the bat, but with a younger spirit undertone. Cherry cola, dates, balsamic glaze, cinnamon sugar, pickle brine, cloves and caramel. A little peppery and thin on the nose, but a good amount of sherry influence comes through.

The palate has menthol sweets, dry wood, artificial cherry, burnt hazelnuts and sweeter molasses appearing towards short-ish finish. The palate is dreadfully thin, and we’re finding it a touch astringent in places. Again, lots of sherry, but no substance. The alcohol has a reasonable balance here though.

Reduction brings musty aromas of leather bound books, ginger, rye bread, currants and some of that menthol vapour rub from the palate onto the nose. The reduced palate is slightly sweeter, although morphs into chewing tobacco and dry oak with the same artificial cherry note from before.

Sherry doesn’t cover all sins. The underlying spirit here seems to be a bit lacklustre (maybe from the youth, maybe from the actual spirit), but we can’t really recommend this. Much better options in this release.

Score: 5/10

Value:

It’s cask strength whisky in sherry at £45, although not Scottish, it’s still reasonable value even if just for that sherry fix.


Knockdhu 10yo PX Hogshead (Since October 2020) 54.3% - £60

Raisins, dates, syrupy in places, but overall really quite restrained on the nose. If we go looking, we’re finding some treacle, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks along with a light mint note too. The alcohol is nicely balanced here. We’re able to get deep into the dram.

The palate has a nice mouthfeel out the gate, with treacle toffee, cinnamon, ginger and raisins in abundance. There’s a bit of peppery spice that appears towards the finish, but overall it’s a mellow alcohol spice. There’s also a bit of chocolate orange here too. Overall it’s not punching us in the face with flavour, it’s more subtle sherry and spirit working together.

Water brings out more citrus, orange marmalade, gingerbread, chocolate and caramel. The reduced palate maintains the mouthfeel and finish length, with more of that citrus and a touch of coffee too. It’s not too dissimilar to the unreduced experience.

Not a sherry bomb in any way, but just a nice bit of sherry influence on top of a decent spirit. It’s mellow, but still a pleasant dram to sit with.

Score: 6.5/10

Value:

Good value for a sherry matured 10yo.


Glen Grant 14yo PX Hogshead (Since March 2021) 59.9% - £75

Deeper, richer, slightly earthy sherry aromas, brandy snaps, crushed mint, aniseed, Maraschino cherries, molasses, charred oak, cola cubes and peppery spice if you get your nose too deep into the glass.

The palate has raisins, brown sugar, dates, cherries, leather, cinder toffee and prickly pepper spice on the front of your tongue. The mouthfeel is decent, there’s some texture here but overall it feels a touch disjointed. The finish lingers on for a good while with blackcurrant and coffee.

Reduction brings out balsamic vinegar, toffee crisp, burnt matches, brown sugar and burnt honey on the nose. The reduced palate maintains a similar mouthfeel and finish, but has a touch more melon and grapefruit alongside the aforementioned date, cherries and leather.

It’s a solid sherried dram, classical PX flavours and aromas on a good base spirit. It’s less sweet than some may expect, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Score: 6.5/10

Value:

Again, solid value for this age and cask type.


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