Whisky Review #137: Cadenhead Whisky Tasting

On the evening of the 22nd of October, I was invited by Mr Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, the Chief Marketing Officer of The Whisky Store, to a dinner which also showcased four exciting expressions from within the Cadenhead range.

Most of us would be aware that Cadenhead is the oldest independent bottler in the world, having been in operation since 1842 and having bottled a multitude of whiskies and other spirits along the way.

The lineup for the evening
The lineup for the evening

This dinner, which was held at the New Ubin Seafood outlet within the CHIJMES complex, showcased the following expressions:

  • Littlemill 1990 24 Years Old
  • Clynelish 1992 21 Years Old
  • Bowmore 2002 12 Years Old
  • Linkwood-Glenlivet 1989 28 Years Old

The latter expression is of particular interest as it is the first joint bottling done by Cadenhead for the following institutions: Quaich Bar, The Swan Song, The Writing Club and New Ubin Seafood.

The cask was selected from a number of samples by Mr Chua Khoon Hui of Quaich Bar in 2017 and the bottling was released in early 2018 and is stocked at all of the aforementioned outlets.

Each of these whiskies were presented with different courses of food, although the emphasis was not limited to pairings and the whiskies were designed to be judged in their own right.

So, let’s jump right into the review!

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From left: Littlemill 1990 24 Years Old, Clynelish 1992 21 Years Old, Bowmore 2002 12 Years Old & Linkwood-Glenlivet 1989 28 Years Old.

Littlemill 1990 24 Years Old (Bottled by Cadenhead, 53.7% abv)

Colour: Gold

Nose: Initial entry presents barley sugar, hints of solvent, apricots, peaches and oak, followed by bourbon-esque notes, cream and vanilla. With time, vestigial hints of cloves, white pepper and a touch of sulphur make an appearance. (20/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents apricot and peach, followed by cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper. With time, cloves, mango, grass and barley sugar hints become more pronounced and the oak and malt start to take control. (22/25)

Finish: Long, lingering, spicy and fruit on the finish, with grass, oak, apricots and white wine remaining till the very end. (21/25)

Balance: A well-balanced and well-integrated expression of Littlemill which exhibits all of the typical Lowland characteristics while thankfully exhibiting none of the butyric acid/baby vomit hints that some expressions are known for. The mouthfeel is oily with a touch of dryness. (21/25)

Rating: 84/100

Clynelish 1992 21 Years Old (Bottled by Cadenhead, 51.6% abv)

Colour: Bright gold

Nose: Initial entry presents slight beer and sake-like hints, followed by bready and mineralic hints. Wax, honey, green apples, orange peel and grungy hints that are reminiscent of creosote emerge soon after and are complemented by limestone and white pepper. (21/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents fresh, waxy, fruity and clean hints that are typically Clyenlish in nature. The bready and mineralic hints from the nose are complemented by kiwi, orange peel, orange oil, sea salt and green apples. With time, white pepper, a touch of creosote and alcohol emerge. The palate is not as bright as the nose suggested, which makes it suffer somewhat. (19/25)

Finish: Medium to long on the finish, with the waxy, fruity, spicy and hot elements lingering till the very end alongside the limestone. (20/25)

Balance: A fairly well-balanced and typical Clynelish, although this expression was not the most exciting representation that this venerable distillery is capable of producing. The mouthfeel is drying for the most part. (20/25)

Rating: 80/100

Bowmore 2002 12 Years Old (Bottled by Cadenhead exclusively for Quaich Bar, 56.9 abv)

Colour: Pale gold

Nose: Initial entry presents a modern style Bowmore, with sea salt, oysters, guava juice, peat and candied bacon, followed by beach bonfire and smouldering embers, limestone, cinnamon, oak and creosote. (22/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents sweet, spicy, peaty, salty and fruity hints working in tandem, with dusky peat, guava juice, sea salt, cinnamon, beach bonfire, driftwood, barley sugar and oak figuring at various points. (22/25)

Finish: Long and lingering, with peat, sea salt, green cigar leaves and cigar smoke. (21/25)

Balance: A very well-balanced and rather tasty expression of Bowmore with the typical fruit and peat hints that one would expect from modern style bourbon-matured variants from this distillery. The mouthfeel is oily and drying in equal measure. (22/25)

Rating: 87/100

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Linkwood-Glenlivet 28 Years Old, bottled by Cadenhead for Quaich Bar, The Swan Song, The Writing Club and New Ubin Seafood. This is the very first joint bottling of its kind in Singapore and brings together four well-regarded whisky bars and a restaurant which has been an institution within the Singapore culinary scene.

Linkwood-Glenlivet 1989 28 Years Old (Bottled by Cadenhead, 43.7% abv)

Colour: Ruby

Nose: Initial entry presents a pronounced hit of rancio, followed by red apple, grist, black coffee, grape skins and supple sherry. With time, the sherry takes on a savoury edge and is complemented by raisins, dark chocolate, black tea, grass and oak. Barley sugar and cigar leaves emerge late on. (23/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents sweet and savoury sherry, followed by rancio, raisins, sulphur, wine gums and butterscotch. With time, the sherry becomes more pronounced and hints of black coffee, black tea, bubble gum, grape skins, dark chocolate and cigar leaves emerge. (23/25)

Finish: Medium to long on the finish, with sherry, rancio, cinnamon, black tea, dark chocolate and oak figuring to the very end. (22/25)

Balance: An exceptionally well-balanced expression which showcases the sweet, sherried, rancio, tannic and green hints in a complex and well-integrated manner. The mouthfeel is oily for the most part, with a touch of dryness at the end. (22/25)

Rating: 90/100

The pick of the night has to be the Linkwood-Glenlivet 28 Years Old, which exhibited all the classic elements of a sherry bomb whisky while also retaining the characteristics which make Linkwood a well-regarded distillery and whisky (even though it is primarily used for blending purposes).

These expressions can all be found at Quaich Bar, with the Linkwood being available for purchase by the dram and/or bottle at all of the partner outlets.

I would like to thank Mr Matthew Fergusson-Stewart and The Whisky Store for the invitation to this special tasting, as well as New Ubin Seafood for providing a sumptuous spread to complement the whiskies which were on show during the dinner.

It was a night of good food, great whiskies, exceptional company and unforgettable memories and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this momentous occasion.

Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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