It’s been a while since I reviewed one of the living casks from the Edinburgh Cadenheads shop. These for the blissfully unaware represent the chance to bottle from the cask in a variety of sizes and Scottish whisky regions. For tourists visiting the capital it’s a great take home memento with the prices being entirely reasonable and smaller bottle sizes lending themselves well to international travel.
Normally when I walk into Cadenheads its with a plan. Namely I’m picking up bottle X from my stockpile. It seems simple but it never turns out that way. A warm welcome, a wee sample and I’m already heading in another direction. You can see this in my review of the Cadenhead 43 year old blended Scotch whisky. I was aiming to pick up the 28 year old Glenkinchie from earlier this year but that’ll have to wait now until later in the month.
This time around I entered the whisky den of delights focused on the 18 year old Royal Brackla or the promising Ledaig. Only the Royal Brackla remained and I was somewhat disappointed by it; far too light and floral it just wasn’t what I had anticipated. What was proving popular in the shop with friends were the living casks just behind the counter.
These are filled by hand and cover the regions of Scotland (Islay, Highland, Lowland and Campeltown) plus there’s a rum option as well. The details of the whiskies from each cask are not advertised but generally the Lowlands are devoid of producers nowadays and Islay tends to be a mix of Lagavulin and Caol Ila. I do review these now and again but as they are living casks they are consistently evolving as they are refilled and the alcohol strength changes.
So whilst I can link to previous reviews the guide is always the alcoholic strength and when roughly the review was published. As if you’re not in the shop in and around that time – that whisky is gone – although the cask remains. What I can say with a fair level of accuracy is the star cask is the one representing Campbeltown. Why you may ask? Well, the Cadenhead links to Springbank distillery and its whiskies such as Longrow ensure a high standard goes into the living cask.
Back to my visit and Justine from Kaskwhisky was quite taken with the Campbeltown cask as were my new Danish friends including Claus from The Malt Desk. A taste confirmed their thoughts and I walked out with a 35cl bottle for just £24.70. That’s a lotta flavour for little outlay as you’ll see from the review below.
Colour: honey glaze
Nose: caramelised apples and stewed figs. A hint of black cherry and honey glazed sausages give a real meaty presence. I’m also reminded of caramel and burning a compost heap at the year end. It’s malty and with water Christmas mince pie spices and liquorice arise.
Taste: straight away there’s ham hock and foliage and a torrent of smoke with bacon, Highland toffee and a coastal element with a salty undercurrent. Water tones down the brute end of the spectrum and enhances the salt that rides through to the finish. Roasted coffee beans, a rich dark chocolate and a honey glaze takes us on a hugely satisfying journey.
Overall: it’s easy to taste why this went down well with visitors to the store. I may have to pick up a full sized bottle to set aside for future enjoyment. Another winner from the Edinburgh Cadenheads team.