An Assortment of Cadenhead's Irish Malts

Indie Irish is getting harder and harder to find at reasonable prices, especially with a double digit age statement. Thankfully I've been fortunate enough to be able to own quite a few bottles before the pricing madness really started to hit home.

Cadenhead's is always a good shout when it comes to indie bottlings of any distillery really, but they've also managed to provide well on the Irish Single Malt front too. My good friend Whisky Rover always tells me how much Irish Whiskey improves after a spell in Campbeltown. 

I do wonder if they have any single pot still tucked away in their warehouses though. So far there haven't been any Irish pot still releases from any Scottish indie bottlers but hopefully that'll change, or if the pot still mash bill will provide issues with the SWA labelling rules. Possibly pot still would have to be labelled as a single grain whisky under the SWA rules. Enough musings from me. On to the whiskies in question.

As there are four expressions to get through the preamble is short and I'll furnish you with the bottle details.

First up is the 15 year old Irish Spirit drink that was released for the Cadenhead's online tasting week of May 2021. Distilled in 2006 it was transferred to an ex-Caroni rum cask in 2018 before being bottled in 2021. It was bottled at 48.8% abv with no details as to the total outturn. This was £75 a bottle. I have a sneaking feeling this was a Cooley. I also imagine it's referred to as a 'Spirit Drink' as it's been completely matured in Scotland.

Second up is the William Cadenhead 11 year old Irish Single malt matured in oak casks and bottled at 46% abv. No idea of outturn but it's natural colour and non chill filtered as per usual with Cadenhead's. This cost a very reasonable £42.

For the next whiskey we get to see some more of the labelling quirks that Cadenhead's throw up with their Irish whiskies as per this Dramface review.

The third whiskey is the Cadenhead's Small Batch Cask Strength 10 year old single malt from 'An Irish Distillery'. Distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2019 at a strength of 47.4% abv from two bourbon hogsheads with an outturn of 648 bottles. Natural colour and NCF as always this bottle I believe from memory cost £48.

So those good at arithmetic will have noticed that this bottle is actually older than the labelled age statement. The 10 year old is at least 12 years old and possibly 13 years old. So it was obviously moved from Ireland to Scotland for at least two years prior to bottling.

The fourth and final bottle is the Cadenhead's Small Batch Cask Strength 12 year old single malt from 'An Irish Distillery'. This was selected by and bottled for 'Flanders' Finest Cask Selection: The Single Malt Whisky Shop - Zammel, Huis Windels & The Clan Maccurve whiskyclub Betekom'. Distilled in 2006 this was bottled in 2018 at a strength of 47.5% abv from one bourbon hogshead with an outturn of 324 bottles. Natural colour and NCF, I believe this cost £52 from memory.

Cadenhead's Irish Spirit Drink 2006 (15 year old) 48.8% abv

Nose: Icing sugar, vanilla, butter, apple sours candy. Candied orange and pineapple. Some leather, shoe polish and oak. Coconut and honey suckle too. A slight mustiness towards the end and eventually creme caramel. Water brought out more caramel, fruit salad and dairy milk.

Palate: Clean and zingy. A little caramel and vanilla followed by green apple, unripe peach and some lime marmalade. Barley sugar, salted butter and shortbread. A slight chalkiness too with white pepper and some mint and milk chocolate. Water brought out ginger, oak and copper.

Finish: Short to medium with warming oak, spice and some lime and grapefruit peel

Score: 6 out of 10

William Cadenhead Irish 11 year old Single Malt 46% abv

Nose: Sweet malt, honey, peach, ripe banana, vanilla custard, orange segments and light oak.

Palate: Good mouthfeel - icing sugar sweetness upfront. Peach, green apple and pear. A little peppery kick with fresh ginger leading to pineapple cube sweets. Soft oak tannins.

Finish: Short with pineappleade and peppery spice contributing most to the finish

Score: 6 out of 10

W.M. Cadenhead Small Batch 10 year old Single Malt from an Irish Distillery 47.4% abv

Nose: Definitely a Cooley - honeysuckle and parma violet sweets. Then a strong note of green fruit - kiwi, tart granny smith and unripe pears. A hint of milk chocolate and turkish delight. A little coconut too.

Palate: Another lovely mouthfeel that coats the palate well. Soft and sweet - malt, pineapple, honey, peach, pear and vanilla. Sugared almonds plus a touch of menthol and finally white grapes.

Finish: Medium length - grape and pineapple combine with some soft oak spice and tannin before leading back to sugary sweetness.

Score: 7 out of 10

W.M. Cadenhead Small Batch 12 year old Single Malt from an Irish Distillery 47.5% abv

Nose: A little more closed than the 10 year old but that honeysuckle and peach note still remains. Stewed apples with clove and cinnamon, bubble-gum, orange peel and dried hay.

Palate: Again another good texture to this dram. Ripe orchard fruit - peach, apple and some tropical notes, lychee and mango. Pepper and nutmeg, vanilla and caramel too.

Finish: A little on the short side with the tropical fruit notes lingering alongside some warming baking spice notes.

Score: 6 out of 10

Overall: A decent showing with one managing to put it's head above the parapets and stand tall as the outright winner. 
The 15 year old 'Spirit Drink' on paper was the one that I thought would float my boat the most due to that extra maturation in the rum cask. While it was a nice enough dram I just didn't feel the rum cask maturation had done enough to elevate the base spirit. 

The 11 year old and 12 year old expressions again were both solid with the bourbon cask maturation helping the distillate to come to the fore. Light and simple but well enough executed that for the price there is little to complain about.

The overall standout though was the 10 year old expression. An Irish fruit bomb and decidedly moreish my only regret is that I didn't buy another bottle. Excellent value for money.

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