Cadenheads Authentic Collection Winter 2023 Review

Today we turn our attention to the latest releases from the Cadenhead’s 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. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
Longrow 21yo Bourbon Hogshead 44.1% - £300

We’d guess from the colour this was a refill bourbon hogshead. Initially as we nose it we’re reminded of a pineapple and orange smoothie with light ashy smoke. As we go back to it we notice the Campbeltown funk appearing along with strawberry creams, smoked kippers, petrol, rock salt, and lychee.

The palate is not as sweet as the nose suggests, what sweetness that’s here appears in the form of strawberry laces, and sugar syrup. Surprisingly there’s a fair alcohol bite even at 44.1%. It’s got an oily mouthfeel, but is slightly thin. The finish is a good length with some ginger snap biscuits lingering, along with freshly squeezed lemon juice and an earthy peat. We’re also getting the slightest hint of bitterness from grapefruit / dark chocolate as the spirit sits on our tongue. 

Reduction brings out some boiled sweeties, candied lemon peel, more nuttiness in the form of cashews and almonds on the nose. The mustiness from the un-reduced nose seems to have disappeared and we're finding it quite pleasant. The reduced palate loses a lot though, we're finding very muted and watery flavours with a bit of ethanol on the finish. 

Reduction brings out some lemon meringue on the nose along with a little more of the peat, while the funk has been diminished somewhat. The reduced palate has gained some of that citrus from the nose, and tamed the alcohol bite, but the mouthfeel has diminished.

It’s a good dram, but for £300 we’d struggle to recommend this as it falls slight short of the other decently aged single casks Longrows we’ve tried. Personally we suggest you look to pickup the recent 20yo society bottle instead, you should be able to get it on auction for £100 less. We’re going with a 7/10.

Score: 7/10

Tomintoul 16yo Fino hogshead (since March 2021) 54.1% - £70

A little tight initially, but we can pick out some candy floss, golden syrup and caster sugar. We’ll be honest, on initial nosing we’d have assumed this was a first fill bourbon cask. Vanilla pod, fresh roses and dry oak appears with a little time in the glass.

The fino finish is more evident on the palate with a pleasant almond nuttiness and white wine note sitting behind the initial bourbon cask sweetness. As we go back to it we notice notes of caramel toffee, sugar cane, and honeycomb, with a touch of cinnamon and cardamom spice on the finish. A lighter and more delicate dram.

Water allows some of the nuttiness from the palate to develop on the nose in the form of salted peanuts along with hints of ginger, a peppery note, and some must. There’s a burnt, ash / paper note on the palate along with hints of Caramac. We’re finding the alcohol is now in better balance, but the mouthfeel falls a little short still.

As we mentioned this isn’t a sherry bomb, but what is here is quite pleasant. It’s not technically a bad dram, but fell a little short for us. We’d happily have another dram, but don’t have the inclination to run out and buy a bottle.

Score: 7/10

Glenfarclas 21yo Madeira Hogshead (since 2017) 49% - £155

There’s a slight sour note to the nose that reminds us of a whisky sour along with notes of peaches, blueberries and orange juice. Leaving it in the glass and some of the sourness fades away leaving hay, and red fruits like cranberries, cherries and raspberry jam. As we go back to it we’re reminded of a decently aged tawny port.

Peaches, toffee meringue and mangoes with just a touch too much spice appear on the palate. A little thin on the mouthfeel, but the alcohol integration is good. Some sweetness lingers on a good length finish. It’s just a little too spicy for us without enough sweetness to balance it out.

Water brings out more tropical fruits on the nose along with brown sugar, red grapes and much more of that sourness. The mouthfeel remains a touch thin and with reduction tastes like we’re drinking a tropical fruit squash with the spice now manifesting as cinnamon sticks.

We enjoyed this one with a touch of water, it brought out so much fruit on the palate, but then we remembered the price. It’s a pleasant, but simple dram. Had this been cheaper we could have justified a purchase, but at £155 we can’t go higher than a 7.5

Score: 7.5/10

Tamdhu 15yo Oloroso Hogshead (since November 2020) 56.4% - £70

The sherry finish on this is very apparent, there’s walnuts, maraschino cherries and sherry vinegar. A little air reveals ketchup raisin, prunes, nutmeg, and hazelnuts. We’re not really getting anything from this we can identify as Tamdhu spirit, but the nose is screaming “sherry bomb”

Its quite hot and spicy on the initial part of the palate with chilli and cardamom coming through. As it sits on our tongues, we find raisins, Red cola, tobacco, ginger, and prunes pulling through along with a slight bitterness from dark chocolate. It has a good length finish, but with a little too much spice taking over and dominating at the end. Mouthfeel is a touch thin again.

With a touch a water we’re getting more caramel sweetness, but the drier sherry notes are still lingering in the background. Sour sweets and pepper appearing on the palate along with the notes above. A little of the sweetness has gone but the alcohol bite is tamed.

If you like a slightly drier sherry cask whisky then this is for you. Just remember to add a few drops of water. Personally, we enjoy a PX finish, but this has went a little too far for us killing any of the spirit character.

Score: 7/10

Ardmore 12yo Bourbon Barrel 55.7% - £55

There’s a hint of smoke, along with a herbal note of lavender. It takes a minute to open up, but when it does there’s notes of vinegar, farmyard funk, burning hay bales, wet grass, hazelnuts, a little bourbon cask sweetness, and slight earthy note. A pleasant nose typical of Ardmore.

The palate opens with honeycomb, cinder toffee, burnt crème brûlée, a savoury note and pancotta. Some sugar cane sweetness and a hint of smoke lingers on a long finish. There an oiliness to the mouthfeel that’s pleasant. Nice alcohol integration. It’s a solid whisky.

There’s more smoke on the nose with water, burnt bacon, earth, caramel wafers, maple syrup, and roses lime juice all appear with reduction on the nose. The palate however has become spicier and bitter. There’s a burst of sweetness that disappears as soon as it appears. We’d recommend avoiding water.

A good intro to peat without water for someone who enjoys sweet and mellow whisky, and maybe good intro to peat with water for people who enjoy their whisky spicy. Really solid bourbon Ardmore, for us it’s a 7/10, but it’s an easy 8/10 for any big Ardmore fans.

Score: 7/10

Annandale 8yo Bourbon Barrel 53.6% - £50

The nose is sweet and peaty -  like smoked beef brisket in a honey mustard sauce / marinade. Dirty soil, burnt toast with maple syrup, Honey nut loops, and a hint of yeast that gives away the youthfulness of the spirit. 

The peat appears initially in a burst of earthy smoke then disappears leaving some bourbon cask sweetness. It's a little too spicy on the finish along with a pleasant nuttiness and a hint of sweetness, blood red orange bitterness and peat lingering. Reasonable mouthfeel and we’re finding the youthfulness of the spirit is less apparent on the palate. It’s not bad, but we’d rather try this at 10yo.

In addition to the above we’re now getting quakers oats, pistachios, cracker jacks and a just extinguished match. Water has opened the nose up nicely. The mouthfeel remains good and we’re getting a little more smoke, but it’s at the expense of some of the sweetness.

This shows the promise of the Annandale spirit, but for us we’d have rather seen this sit in the cask for a few more years. Saying that it’s only £50, and if you’ve never tried the spirit before it’s be an interesting dram to pick up. While it’s an 7/10 for us, if you’ve never tried Annandale and are curious this is a bargain price as other official singles casks we’ve tried have been £80+.

Score: 7/10

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