Our club member tasting for April if from the Duthies range from the Springbank owned Cadenhead stable.
Established in 1842 by William Cadenhead and George Duncan in Aberdeen, Cadenhead’s are Scotlands’s oldest independent bottler and purveyor of whisky, rum and gin. William Cadenhead is in fact more famous as a poet than a vintner, although his poetry has a distinctly alcoholic flavour. His nephew, Robert Duthie, took over in 1904 and seems to have been the reason why Cadenheads has developed into one of the most successful Independent Bottler in the business.
The two men had seemingly different philosophies. Whereas Williams Cadenhead bottled single cask, cask strength whiskies without any chill filtering, Duthie saw the value in marrying casks, which could enhance the character of the individual casks. So, how does that relate to the whiskies you’re about to drink?
Well, the answer is it’s all a bit hazy and it’s nothing to do with being non-chill filtered (a little joke there for the whisky nerds). It appears that these expressions are not from single casks, as the limited number of bottles would suggest. Instead, it appears – in keeping with Duthie’s philosophy – that these are multi-cask whiskies, the youngest of which will be the age stated, for that is what the law requires. It is almost unheard of that a bottler will tell you the ages of the individual casks that went in to making a given single malt (which is still is, by the way, as all the whiskies will have come from a single distillery). The job of the blender is to make each batch of, say, a Laphroaig 10, taste the same as the previous ones and, such is the individuality of every cask, that they will have to use a variety of different ages each time a new batch is made. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what casks go into it so long as it tastes good.
These Duthies expressions, however, are limited and, like their single cask counterparts are only going to be around for a short period of time, so you need to buy the ones you really like quickly. They offer a range of four regions: Campbeltown, Highland, Islay and Lowland, although it seems that within Highland they also include Speyside (which it is officially part of).
Cadenhead’s is like stepping back in time in that everything seems to be done in an old fashioned manual way, and this isn’t a criticism. The company survived through both world wars, but ran into a rocky period. After some hard times and a fire sale of a huge stock base in 1972 the company was taken over by J & A Mitchell & Co Ltd, the owners of Springbank distillery. They have nurtured and expanded the brand, and there are now Cadenhead shops in London, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Köln in Germany in addition to their shop and central office in Campbeltown. They run tastings out of their shops and they are well worth a visit. Cadenhead’s offer a huge range of independent bottlings at reasonable prices in these days of massive whisky price inflation. We have chosen 5 of their Duthies range to give you a chance to try them out.
One of only 336 bottles, there is no indication what sort of cask was used but it seems fairly likely to have been refill bourbon or sherry cask. A much more earthy beast than the recently released 12 year old.
Official Notes by Cadenhead:
Nose: Like a Scottish hillside on a summer day. Very lively notes of dew-soaked grass, heather and just a hint of oak.
Palate: A very flavoursome whisky. Initially peppery with hints of cumin and basil, opens out to release creamy vanilla and a pleasant malty flavour. More oak and malt as the spices return to provide a long-lasting finish.
Nose: Aromatic and fruity but with a slightly earthy undertow. Ginger and Banana with an oaky note.
Palate: Peppery, oaky and buttery at first, then smooth and fruity with, again, an earthiness.