This was one of five 200 ml bottles I purchased from my first visit to Cadenhead’s on my first afternoon in Edinburgh in early June. I’ve already reviewed the Glen Ord 13 and the Tullibardine 24 that were part of that haul—I’d not planned to get anything more (I’d also picked up a Worthy Park rum) but couldn’t resist their store casks. They had five casks on the go in the store: one Islay, one Highlands, one Lowlands, one Campbeltown and one rum cask. I purchased 200 ml of the Islay (obviously) and also of the Campbeltown cask (review coming soon). The prices are fixed for all the casks: £14 for 200 ml, £24.50 for 350 ml and £48 for 700 ml. My understanding is that these are all “living” cask vattings, topped up once they get low. This means that the composition can change from week to week—I have no idea how often they top these casks up. I think I was told that the Islay cask as constituted at the time I made my purchase had a fair bit of young Lagavulin in it—but I could be making that up. It is possible to get a taste before you make a decision but I was comfortable trusting that they’d probably be good. I’m happy to say that this trust was well rewarded. I took these notes in Edinburgh itself—my friend Mike and I polished this off at a pretty rapid rate after purchase.
Cadenhead’s Islay Cask (57.6%; from a purchased 20 cl bottle)
Nose: Lemon; sharp, slightly rubbery smoke; ash. After a bit there’re sweeter notes: vanilla, apple. More char and less rubber in the smoke with time. Less smoke and more sweetness with a few drops of water.
Palate: Rubbery smoke here as well; mezcal—tastes young. On the second sip there’s vanilla here too. Nice texture and very drinkable at full strength. Water brings out a sweet, resiny note and knits everything together quite well.
Finish: Long. The smoke goes on for a long time and it’s most phenolic here. Quite resiny and spicy here with water.
Comments: Tasty young Islay. I’d guess this is mostly 8-10 yo spirit. I like it but I’m fine with just having 200 ml of it. I think I like it a bit better with water.
Rating: 84 points.