Cadenhead Islay Living Cask

Cadenhead Islay Living Cask 2.jpg

Thanks to Bryan V. for pouring me a dram of this

Part of the fun of doing a mystery Advent Calendar made up of my own samples is me scrambling to figure out what I just drank. For Advent Day #19, we see that come to life.

You see when I review I try to throw out any preconceptions. This isn’t bragging or meant as an excuse why I suck at mysteries. It’s a habit I picked up. If all I have is the name and (sometimes) the abv., I can at least pretend like I’m less influenced than knowing everything.

But what happens after 19 days of mysteries? And additional mysteries from tastings? And pushing myself to be better at guessing?

Let’s see, shall we?

Cadenhead Islay Living Cask 1.jpg

Price: 40 GBP

Region: Blend of Islays

Bottled: June 11th 2016

Location: Edinburgh

Abv: 58.6%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Roast lamb, mint, lime, whipped cream, apple

Alright, immediately I’m getting some meatiness and definite peat influence. What starts out as big and brash goes down a bit, with simpler flavours.

So what I’m thinking here is this is an Islay. The meatiness leads me to believe it’s Kilchoman. But there are aspects of Caol Ila too. And the sudden drop has confused me.

Taste: Caramel, mint, orange, spicy tobacco (like Kretek maybe? I’m not so good at tobacco), cinnamon

More spice and acidity here. I’m leaning towards a dram that takes on more sherry aspects. The elements aren’t leaning towards Caol Ila, so I’m thinking Kilchoman? But wait, that meatiness may be aspects I’ve found in Port Ellen.

But what Port Ellen wouldn’t have the complexity? This isn’t that hot, so I’m leaning towards lower abv.

Finish: Anise, caraway, effervescent, raspberry, peach, hot sauce

Spice, sherry aspects, and a bit of vinegar. I’m lost.

Conclusion: Very confused. It’s perfectly drinkable, fun to pick apart, and feels like a Frankenstein monster of some sort.

The issue, I think, is that this ended up being a blended malt. And not just that, but a blended malt that has not-so-standard mixtures within it. As such there’s no one at the wheel. One week it may have 20% Caol Ila, and the next 40%.

As far as drinking this, I’d keep it on hand as a daily drinker. A higher end, stronger daily drinker, but one nonetheless. It never really hits any high levels. It’s strong and tasty.


Guess: Ex-bourbon, 43%, Kilchoman or Port Ellen maybe?

Actually: Cadenhead Islay Living Cask

So there are some things to take into account. We don’t know the age of the components, the types, or even the original casks. Parts of this certainly could be Kilchoman, but probably never Port Ellen. And I come back to the reaction I’ve had each time I’ve walked into a Cadenhead shop and tried a living cask: If I lived near such a shop, I’d be buying this as a daily drinker.

However the younger nature and seemingly “throw everything in a cask and see how it does” reaction means it’ll never be part of my luggage/customs declaration home. Because there are much more fun things about.

Now their rum living casks… that’s a different story for a different day.

Scotch review #1076, Blend review #92, Whisky review #1677

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