An assortment of Cadenhead's Scotch Malts: Glenallachie, Springbank and Tomatin


Review 2 of 2024 and it's time to revisit some offerings from W M Cadenheads. A firm favourite within the whisky community and for good reason. They offer fairly consistent quality at reasonable prices. Yes finishing is creeping in on some products but on the whole you can expect to find full bourbon maturation being the order of the day, with full sherry maturation still available from time to time for those that want their hit of raisin juice.

The drams on offer today consist of a bottle I've had for a while and just recently killed and a couple of generously provided samples.

First up is a 1989 Glenallachie. A distillery likely not on anyone's radar until it was purchased by Billy Walker, he of Glendronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh fame. You can see my thoughts on their current 12 year old from the core range here, but the short version is it's very wood driven and a bit confused. So it's kind of nice to have an unadulterated expression to try from before the big buy out.

Matured in a bourbon hogshead, in fact probably a couple, this gave us 324 bottles at a pretty high strength of 62.5% abv. It was distilled sometime in 1989 before being bottled in July 1999 and cost me £42 at time of purchase.

Next up we have an 11 year old Springbank that was released closely to the 11 year old Local Barley....if you want to read a great review of that particular expression head over to Dramface. It was an interesting aside to try both this sample and the Local Barley together. The big difference being this was matured solely in bourbon casks. I'm not privy to what the outturn was. But as with all Cadenhead's products this was natural colour and non-chill filtered.

Finally we have an Authentic Collection Tomatin matured for 12 years in bourbon hogsheads. This yielded 264 bottles at 54.1% abv. Tomatin is distillery I've not spent much time on with only one review of their official bottlings to date which you can read here.

Let's taste.

Authentic Collection Glenallachie 9 year old 62.5%

Nose: The nose is a little tight and restrained. Orchard fruit of conference pear and peach. Rhubarb and custard sweets. Chopped almonds. Vanilla sponge batter, fresh cream. A little oakiness. Water brings candyfloss, orange squash and more oak.

Palate: Classic Speyside notes of vanilla, honey, apple and pear. Clove, almonds and hazelnuts. Black pepper and pencil shavings. Water brings out a metallic copper note, more woody spice and a hint of fresh ginger.

Finish: Short with lingering warmth from the alcohol with a touch of spicy oak and honey.

Score: 5 out of 10

Original Collection Springbank 11 year old 46%

Nose: Flint, dunnage and light engine oil. Barley Sugar, malt and vanilla custard. Lemon meringue pie. Peach, melon and tinned pineapples. Salted caramel and wafer.

Palate: Biscuity malt, honey, lychee and peach. Vanilla cream, lemon wedges and graphite. Chablis white wine. Salted butter, soot and pepper.

Finish: A decent length with soot, chalk and waxed lemons.

Score: 7 out of 10

Authentic Collection Tomatin 12 year old 54.1% 

Nose: An immediate blast of Italian lemon biscuits, caramelised brown sugar, and freshly laundered linen. A load of vanilla, green apples and cinnamon. Fresh white pepper and a hint of new leather. Pine cones.

Palate: A lovely creamy mouthfeel with just a hint of spice. Green fruit - gooseberries and kiwi, stewed pears and apples, maple pecan danish pastry. Malt. A nice peppery warmth toward the end of the palate.

Finish: Medium length with peppery warmth and a mix of tart and sweet green fruit.

Score: 7 out of 10

Overall: An enjoyable stroll through a few offerings from the fine folk at W.M.Cadenheads. Thanks to Whisky Rover for the sample of the Springbank and Dramface Hamish for the sample of the Tomatin.

The Glenallachie was a simple enough affair that definitely benefitted from a splash of water to help open it up. I think it would really have come into it's own with a few more years of maturation. For the price I paid it was a perfectly acceptable sipper. Currently you may find it hard to find it for less than £100 at which point I'd move my gaze elsewhere.

The Springbank was released earlier this year, around the same time as the Local Barley 11 year old as far as I remember and I believe cost £75 per bottle. Obviously it was much sought after and flew off the shelves. The good news for those who both purchased and opened their bottles was that they got a great drop. A really approachable Springbank that highlighted the tropical fruit notes as well the industrial side. Lovely stuff.

Finally the Tomatin. For the asking price of £49 this was a cracking drop. Creamy, zesty citrus and green fruit notes and biscuity malt. Not massively complex but it was really well balanced between the nose and palate and was very, very easy to drink.

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