To kick the week off, we've got two of Cadenheads new "Enigma" releases from their Winter 2023 Authentic Collection release up for review.
Cadenheads Enigma Lowland 10yo
There's not much information about this 10yo year old, except that it was matured in a Bourbon Hogshead. There's no mention of how many bottles were made available.
We’re met with creamy custard, toasted cereals, light caramel, waffle cones and some artificially sweetened pear juice. Going back, we’re finding lime zest, floral fabric softener, grapefruit, honeydew melon and lemon & lime squash. It’s a pleasant nose, although there’s a bit of new-make aroma that comes through when you get deep into the glass, fooling us into thinking it’s younger than it actually is.
The palate opens with some zingy citrus, cream soda, moving into ginger, a touch of dark chocolate and a bit of alcohol heat towards the latter part of the palate. The mouthfeel is syrupy, a reasonable texture, and the finish lasts for a decent length, although is predominantly spice and a few sweeter toffee notes. Time and air brings out richer flavours, a little date syrup and honey nut cheerios, alongside some sweet lemon iced tea.
Nose (with water)
The reduced nose doesn’t present too many differences for us, it’s still mostly citrus, floral and creamy aromas coming out of the glass. There’s still some of those green fruits, and the younger spirit note is still present.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate feels, again, very similar to the unreduced version. It opens with lemon & lime, a little white wine, light caramel and sugar syrup. There’s also a bit of cocoa powder. The mouthfeel is a touch worse, although water has tamed some of that alcohol spice.
A perfectly drinkable whisky, but we’re not finding too much else to be excited about. There’s some nice citrus aromas and flavours but it suffers from being a bit too hot all round. We’re not sure where this is from, maybe Ailsa Bay? One to begin your evening on.
10 year old cask strength whisky at £50 beats out most competitors.
Cadenheads Enigma Islay 16yo
Again, there's not much information about this 16 year old, except that it has been maturing in a Oloroso Hogshead since March 2022. Again, there's no mention of how many bottles were made available. We've got a sneaking suspicion this may be Lagavulin...
The nose opens with menthol, antiseptic, aniseed, vapour rub and copper. It’s quite a punchy nose, with a lot of upfront aroma that knocks you back into your seat. We’re also getting cigarette smoke, bruised apples and tar. It’s a very medicinal peat smoke. The alcohol is in reasonably good balance. Overall it’s quite a metallic nose, we’re feeling like the additional maturation in sherry has accentuated this. We’re finding this super interesting, quite uncommon and we’re excited to see what the palate holds.
The palate has more of the medicinal peat, TCP, bandages, antiseptic, like walking down a hospital corridor. There’s more of that cigarette smoke, burnt caramel, cinnamon, salt crystals and well roasted pork on our second sip. Going back and we’re getting well fired coffee beans, cardboard, pickled walnuts and a hint of lime too. The mouthfeel is good and there’s a lot of heavy smoked meat and charcoal flavours on the medium to long finish.
Nose (with water)
The reduced nose continues on the same track, with a touch more meatiness coming through, thinly sliced beef slices, oxo cubes, freshly turned dirt and copper piping. There’s a bit more sweetness appearing if you get deep into the glass, but it’s mostly overpowered with those dirty, medicinal aromas.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate is slightly muted, grit, charred wood, ginger powder, smoked back bacon and coal. We’d say the sherry cask sweetness is more prominent, giving it that sweet/peat combo that many love. For us, we prefer the raw, undiluted version, but some will appreciate a dash of water.
Aggressively Islay. This is a dram that some will absolutely despise, but for those who enjoy it, you’ll have something quite special. One for the dirty peat lovers (and for us). We’d be impressed if there’s a better bottle in the Cadenheads Winter release.
It’s pricey, but only depending on which distillery it turns out to be. If it is indeed from Lagavulin then this is reasonable, but for other (more readily available) Islay distilleries, it’s a bit expensive.
- 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.