Monday, August 10, 2020

Whisky Review: Cadenhead's Classic Highland Pure Malt

This is a blast from the past in a number of ways. While the blended malts from Cadenhead's various shops are reasonably well-known, they also released a line regional blended malts somewhere during the 2000s. While I can't date them precisely, the "Pure Malt" moniker is a clue since the phrase was banned after 2009.

This whisky was aged in what I'm guessing were refill ex-bourbon casks (maybe Nth refill sherry?), then bottled at 50% without coloring or chill filtration.

Cadenhead's Classic Highland Pure Malt

Nose: rather malty, shortbread, graham crackers, honey, butter, lightly floral. After adding a few drops of water it gets a little brighter, the honey notes are stronger, and the malt gets less grainy.

Taste: rather hot up front - opens with sweet malt and cask notes, a little vinous in the middle. After dilution the sweetness spreads out, the the oak and vinous notes expand, but it doesn't ever become tannic.

Finish: polished oak, sweet malt, almost sherried, a touch of something floral (rose?)

This is kind of an odd duck. I wasn't sure what to expect given the almost complete lack of information, though I want to say I had read somewhere that it might be teaspooned Highland Park? This reads much closer to Balvenie to me, albeit fairly young and at a much higher proof. If we're sticking to the Highlands, I guess Dalwhinnie could also fit the bill, but I've never seen that as an IB, so I can't imagine they'd be throwing casks of it into a no-name blended malt. Either way, there's not a lot to peg this as being from any particular distillery.

While it took me a while to warm up to it, in the end it was a perfectly pleasant, uncomplicated malt. Would I buy it again if I saw it at MSRP? Probably not. There's nothing here that I couldn't find from other sources. That's also to say that I don't see any reason to pick this one up at auction, especially if it goes for over the odds. But if you happen to find a dusty bottle for under $50, it's not a bad idea, just make sure to set your expectations accordingly.

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