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Island Mystery

Cadenheads 7 Year Old Islay

We’re celebrating our one year anniversary of A Weekly Dram by going back to our roots. This blog was inspired by our trip to Scotland, and during that vacation we visited the famous Cadenhead’s Whisky shop in Edinburgh. One of the oldest independent bottlers in Scotland, Cadenhead’s has been sourcing casks from distilleries for over a century. Single cask whisky has become our favorite type of bottling, as the variety and depth of flavor are unmatched. That doesn’t always mean we have liked every single cask bottle we’ve tasted. Yet we can confidently say that single cask whisky has more complexity. If the cask strength flavor isn’t to our liking, we add water and see how things change.

We purchased 4 of the shop’s ‘Cask Ends,’, which are 200ml sized bottles that are ideal for travel. You can read the reviews of our Springbank and Tullibardine bottles here. We also wanted something from the Islay region, so the employee who helped us recommended a mystery bottle from the island. Well peated and full of mystery, a 7 year old random Islay was the perfect choice for us.

Cadenhead’s 7 Year Old Islay

A mystery single cask whisky is about as pure of a blind tasting experience as one can have. Unlike our other Cadenhead’s Cask Ends bottles, this one gives us very little information. We’re not told what distillery the whisky came from, nor what time of cask it was aged in. Aged 7 years, the color of the whisky probably won’t give us enough clues. But we did press the staff at Cadenhead’s for a bit more information which we’ll reveal after the tasting.

Eyes: Pale green color in the glass, resembling a gewurztraminer or riesling wine. The texture of the whisky is lighter but not as thin as one might expect from a 7 year old single malt.

Nose: Aromas of toasted bread, bonfire smoke, and seawater. A classic Islay mix. Water

doused the bonfire and left the embers along with the toast.

Taste: A quick blast of pepper spice is followed by a mix salt, brine. The flavor is hardly one dimensional, however. We tasted tons of creme brulee rice pudding and other sweet notes. With water the sweet and cinnamon spice flavors prevail.

Finish: The finish carries a long lasting, vanilla sweetness.

We are both incapable of being content with keeping things a complete mystery, and so we asked the staff at Cadenhead’s for a a clue or two about the identity of this whisky. One employee indicated that they were only able to purchase this cask if they kept the distilleries name hidden. He also told us that the whisky was distilled on the south of Islay. That gave us three likely choices: Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg. Given that we’ve seen plenty of independent bottlings from Laphroaig and a few from Ardbeg, we have a strong hunch where this whisky came from. The taste confirms that this bottle is likely a 7 year old Lagavulin, which is a rare find. The flavor profile is classic Lagavulin, and also very typical of a young Islay in general. If you can find the Lagavulin 8 Year Old at a store nearby, you will be drinking something very similar to this whisky.



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