Cadenhead's Original Collection: June 2023


Today we turn our attention to the latest release from the Cadenhead’s original 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.
Teaninich 15yo Sauternes cask 46% - £70.00

The nose opens with sandalwood, white chocolate, mushy apple, vanilla panna cotta, a little apricot and pencil shavings. We’re also finding poached pears, white pepper and a brioche buns. It’s a nice mixture of creaminess, oak and subtle fruit.

The palate begins with a burst of sweetness, mango, pineapple, guava, all doused with copious amounts of sugar syrup. Wow it’s incredibly sweet, candy canes, caramel, horchata, honey nut cheerios and apricot brandy. The texture is slightly thin for us, but there’s still a creaminess in the background, and the finish has a decent length, moving into more oak-forward dark chocolate and almond praline.

The reduced nose has more typical bourbon cask notes, vanilla, buttercream frosting, fudge, with less oak than before coming through. There’s a hint of banana in the background now. The reduced palate maintains the sweetness, but transforms from tropical fruits to more of a milk chocolate, caramel shortcake, walnut loaf type of palate. Super chocolate-y now.

What a contrast from nose to palate… a subtle, creamy, orchard fruit led nose into a massively sweet, fruity palate. For us we quite enjoyed it, although we do have a bit of a sweet tooth. Not overly complex, but very drinkable, the Sauternes cask has had a massive impact here.

Score: 6.5/10

Value:

Maybe a little pricey for what it is, especially within Cadenheads more budget friendly range.

Blair Athol 14yo Oloroso cask 46% - £65.00

We’re finding plums, blackcurrant jam, candied orange rind, strawberry laces and Sujeonggwa (a Korean ginger and cinnamon punch). There’s also a little bit of leather and black pepper spice too. Sweeter than we expected.

The palate is typical sweet sherry, jammy with freshly picked strawberries, raspberries, currants, moving into a slightly drier finish with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and a little aniseed too. There’s also flamed orange peel and a bit of rye-like spice towards the end of the finish. The mouthfeel is fine, not overly textured but viscous enough to keep us interested, and the finish has a decent length, although does get a bit too dry for us.

Water brings out more of a richer type of sherry aroma, nutty with dark chocolate, pickled walnuts and moscavado sugar. We’re also getting a little bit of coffee in the background too. The reduced palate follows suit, less fruit, more brown sugar, ginger juice and caramel. The mouthfeel and finish remain mostly the same.

For only a year of oloroso finishing, there’s heaps of cask influence here. Lots and lots of typical sherry notes, all of which sit on the sweeter side of sherry maturation. There’s a bit of spice here too, but our biggest challenge is the finish, we’re left chewing a really dry mouth.

Score: 6/10

Value:

Sherry casks are always a bit pricier, so this isn’t too bad for a 14yo.

Dailuaine 14yo Oloroso cask 46% - £65.00

The nose opens with prunes, treacle, cinder toffee, fudge and blackcurrant cordial. There’s a charred aroma masquerading as light wisps of smoke too. It has quite a rich and punchy nose with hints of cinnamon and old oak armchairs.

The palate is quite ginger-forward, a touch spicy, with some fresh lime zest and roasted coffee beans. There’s also blackcurrants, a little cherry cola and molasses. The mouthfeel is nice, and the finish lingers on with dark chocolate after-eights.

Water brings out a creaminess that we didn’t find before, alongside the blackcurrant, prunes and treacle that are still present. There’s also a little freshly ground black pepper coming through now. The reduced palate has more up-front acidity, lots of lemon and lime, moving into sweetened milky coffee with a drizzle of caramel syrup. Water hasn’t affected the finish too much, but the mouthfeel has taken an unfortunate hit.

A little spicier than we expected, the palate really leaves a warm sensation in the mouth long after the last sip was taken. An interesting contrast to the Blair Athol, two different oloroso styles and for us, this just wins out. There’s a bit more going on that’s keeping us interested.

Score: 6.5/10

Value:

Similar to the Blair Athol, we expect the sherry cask to add on a premium, so this seems like a reasonable price.

Tullibardine 12yo PX cask 46% - £55.00

We’re finding black cherries, dark chocolate, blackcurrants, pickled ginger, freshly ground coffee beans and Bénédictine liqueur. It’s richer than it is sweet, lots of depth with some herbal notes that accent this.

The palate brings in more chocolate and cherries, this time in the form of black forest gateau, but less sugar than you’d expect. We’re getting cocoa powder, cinnamon sticks, dry leather, nutmeg and almond biscotti. The mouthfeel is fine, again not blowing us away, but the finish lingers on for a good while with lots of herbal liqueur.

Reduction brings out woodier aromas, dried leaves, twigs, some oak tannins and more of those coffee aromas from before. We’re getting more fresh cherry on the palate, cinnamon, cloves and grated ginger juice. The finish maintains the earthy, herbal flavours.

These sherry casks must be pretty wet when Cadenheads re-rack into them, again the short finish has imparted so much depth of flavour and aroma. There’s lots to like here, and we did enjoy the dram, but we felt like it could have benefitted from a little more sweetness in places to balance some of those richer, deeper flavours.

Score: 6/10

Value:

Pretty reasonable at £55, more in line with what we expect from the Original collection bottles.

An Orkney 6yo Bourbon cask 46% - £50.00

Oh, super buttery, brioche buns, Manuka honey, Chantilly cream, but overall the nose is really restrained and we’re not getting too much more from it. There’s a little farmyard-y funk and a bit of smoke creeping in as we let it sit in our glasses.

The palate begins with zesty lemon, runny honey, buttered crumpets sprinkled with caster sugar and slivered almonds. Theres a subtle smoke in the background, hay bales, custard cream biscuits moving into drier oak on the finish. There’s some young spirit yeastiness coming through, however it’s pretty subtle for such a young whisky. It’s also got a nice and creamy mouthfeel. There’s also some caramel and fizzy pineapple juice appearing as we let the dram develop.

Reduction brings out a little vanilla on the nose and there’s still the buttery, creaminess from before. Not too much change really, perhaps it’s opened up slightly. The reduced palate takes a bit of a hit to the mouthfeel, but brings forward creamy porridge, wholemeal bread and buttercream frosting. We’d probably skip the water here, it doesn’t need it.

The palate is where this one really opens up. The nose is pleasant, very mellow, however there’s lots to love on the palate. We don’t love Highland Park, but we’ve had a few expressions from various IB’s recently that are helping change our opinions on the distillery, and this dram is helping with that. Pretty great for a 6yo.

Score: 7/10

Value:

Even though it’s young, £50 is about the cheapest you’ll get a decent bottle these days so we think it’s pretty good value.

Caol Ila 11 Palo Cortado cask 46% - £65.00

The nose is filled with peat smoke, toasted white bread, freshly grilled sardines on the beach, stroopwaffles, singed caramel, toasted almonds, rock salt and wet rope. It’s a lovely, creamy and sweet nose. There’s not an overt amount of sherry influence here, we would have guessed it was purely a good bourbon cask.

The palate is big and bold, nougat, peanut brittle, caramel drizzle, marzipan, smoked fish and ashy peat smoke. The mouthfeel is nice, we’re starting to get some of the nutty sherry coming through and the finish lasts for a good while, although is quite dry, like chewing on an oatcake to reset your palate between drams.

Reduction enhances some of the saltier, maritime aromas, oysters with fresh lemon, bonfire embers and candied pecans. The reduced palate carries on with creamy vanilla custard, ashy peat and nutty sherry. We don’t think water has harmed the dram, but we can’t say that it’s giving much more so we’d skip the reduction here.

Great quality Caol Ila. The palo cortado isn’t too detectable on the nose, but gives a lovely nuttiness on the palate that compliments the Caol Ila spirit very well. This must have been a pretty solid bourbon cask before the finishing period. It’s a touch dry on the finish, but we really enjoyed this one.

Score: 7.5/10


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