Cardhu 14 2021 Special Release

This is a continuation of my ongoing self reflection of Diageo as a whisky reviewer. All done by reviewing the 2021 Special Releases of Diageo. Much easier than therapy or mindfulness.

Buying Cardhu isn’t easy near me. We don’t have lots of Cardhu come through. You have the standard 12-year-old OB bottling. And… that’s what’s normally on the shelf. There were special releases called “The Cummings of Cardhu”, which… I mean, where have those been the entire time I was reviewing whisky? Talk about missing out, I could have been writing about Cummings? Noted their salty flavour? So sad.

Well today we’re trying a new interesting release, which is a cask strength Cardhu, specifically Cardhu 14 2021 Special Release. This is not only one of the rare Cardhu releases that’s cask strength, but it was also finished in an ex-red wine cask. Last time we had something like this it was in 2019.

But is there a reason Cardhu is released as it is? We can complain and imagine people twirling their mustaches, holding back whisky, tying it to railway crossings because of profit somehow. And yes, blatant hoarding is a problem within capitalism. But maybe, just maybe, they know the whisky hasn’t been that level yet. For all you stock fans, maybe it’s a dog, and they are fine with it making money as a dog.

Nah, it’s probably the twirling mustache thing. Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Price: £ 115

Region: Speyside

**Vintage: 2006

Bottled: 2021

Cask type Refill American Oak / Ex-Red Wine

Abv: 55.5%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/4

Nose: Gravel, apple, soil, wet leaves

Very weak nose. Hard to really pick out much beyond different vegetal and mineral notes. Water didn’t help. No sign of what I associate with a red wine cask (typically close to sherry casks) with any fruit or spice. Maybe it was an earthier red?

Taste: Soil, red delicious apple, butter, powdered ginger

I’ve said before that apples are a good flavour to have in whisky. A common flavour some would point out. Great flavour, in fact. Anyone who has had a red delicious in the past 2 decades knows they are fit for the pigs, but only if you don’t really want tasty pork and the pigs annoy you.

At least there’s some butter here. That’s what I’m focusing on as the rest is very, very earthy.

Finish: Butter, soil, black pepper, old orange

More butter? Good. Orange that tastes like it should have been thrown in with the pigs bad apple banquet? Not so good. More earth? Great.

Conclusion: At least this has butter. The soil parts didn’t taste like mushrooms or had earthy notes like cumin or really any other food I could list off. They tasted like licking your lips after gardening. And your fingers.

The rest is rough fruit notes and some heat. The good news is I don’t think there’s anyone tying these casks to rails or keeping them from us. I went down a bit of a rabbit hole looking for previous cask strength Cardhus, and after the 80s they fell off a cliff for independent bottlings. And even those cask strength specials aren’t that well rated. So perhaps they need to revisit the stills.

Like they did with Mortlach… which I’ll complain about another time.


Scotch review #1530, Speyside review #433, Whisky Network review #2250

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