Cadenhead’s Craigellachie 16 year old

Originally published 12/03/2018

It has come as a realisation to me that in my short time with Malt I have only contributed two Scotch reviews so far, with the rest all being Irish whiskey pieces. As the token Paddy on Malt, I know that Irish whiskey reviews are to be expected but I thought it was time to add another Scotch review to the portfolio so you know that I'm not a one trick pony! Heck, I may even eventually tread on Adam's toes and venture into the murky world of U.S. & Canadian whiskey just for the craic! Anyway enough guff, on with the show.

1980 was a great year! The Rubiks Cube was introduced to the world, Pac-Man lined arcades all over the world. Post-It Notes went on sale in America. The Empire Strikes Back and Nine to Five were on the Silver Screen whilst in homes around the world eyes were glued to the small screen to learn who shot J.R. In Dallas... oooohhh the tension was palpable. Mrs & Mrs Potato Head and Big Trak were the toys of choice. Oh, and on a side note, I was born!

Why do I highlight this? Well while perusing Instagram I noticed quite a few accounts where individuals were delighted to acquire a bottle (or bottles) of whisky with a vintage the same as their year of birth. So, of course, this got me to thinking... why not get a bottle distilled when I was born? I figured it would be pretty cool to have a whisky that had been on the planet at least as long as I had.

Now what I did notice about these posts was their owners were rather young whipper-snappers having the audacity to be born in 1989, 1991 and even as recently as 1996! Searching around online I found that bottles from these years could be bought reasonably affordably. What about 1980 then? How about a 1980 Glen Mhor for just £299? Nope. Glenburgie 36 year old 1980 vintage, £340. Move along. Banff 1980 26 year old, £550. Yikes!

It seemed like I would never scratch this particular itch. Then one fine day I walked into Coleraine's finest off-licence, Fairley's and there it sat, perched high on a top shelf. A Cadenhead's Authentic Collection Cask Strength Craigellachie 16 year old distilled in June 1980 (just two months after I was born). And the price? £100. A lot for me but I couldn't resist and I promptly took it home (Yes folks I actually parted with cash for this... all part of the open and transparent service we provide here on Malt.) Enough of the melodramatic preamble I hear you say... on to the tasting notes! Gladly.

Cadenhead's Craigellachie 16 year old - review

Colour: yellow gold.

On the nose: the oily and sulphurous, almost meaty characteristic of Craigellachie is very much intact. Underneath that comes stewed apples, clove, citrus oil and orange zest with a buttery note before the oak takes over with just the faintest hint of nail varnish remover. Water opens up old leather, pineapple chunks, dairy fudge and malt biscuits.

In the Mouth: fiery on arrival which probably shouldn't be a surprise at 60.1% ABV. It is oily and chewy and spicy in the mouth with quite an amount of pepper heat on the front of the tongue and clove oil tang. The apples are there from the nose, vanilla, light honey with some yeastiness and the typical meaty undertones expected from the worm tubs. Water tames the spice a little but not overly. Becomes fruitier with dried apricots and pineapple cubes and a little dryness from the oak. The finish is long and spicy.


Quite a full on and bombastic dram... you really know you are drinking something with this one. Fruity, meaty and spicy all in one. Am I glad I bought it? Very much so, a fitting way to end my search for a 1980 vintage and one I intend to enjoy every last drop.

Score: 7/10

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