Cardhu Special Cask Reserve (40%, OB, Batch Cs/cR.10.09, 2010)

Wow, here we have a Diageo NAS bottling “selected from very old casks”. Really? So instead of just putting the number up, lets say 30yo or maybe 40yo, and ask a hefty sum, they let you have this for a song, just by replacing the very old age statement by “Special Cask Reserve”. Lets not tell anybody, and let this be our little secret! Sush. What a wonderful idea! Who said Diageo isn’t thinking of their consumers! Well if this is a very old Cardhu. I’m expecting quite a lot now! A few years back I reviewed a Diageo Cardhu 22yo, that did have an age statement, and at only 22yo, this was truly very, very good! And as this must be older… But hey, wait a minute, reading that post I mention that I didn’t like the Special Cask Reserve. Did I already try this particular Cs/cR.10.09 earlier (which was already out at the time) or was it from another batch? Thud! That was the sound made by my expectations lowering…

Color: Light gold, with a slight pink hue

Nose: Fresh and fruity. Lively. Malty with hints of toffee. Summery with an unexpected meaty note, maybe even some sushi. Some funky notes, I have a hard time putting a finger on. It is a meaty, slightly salty smell, somewhere in between bacon and cold gravy, combined with lavas maybe? lavas I’m getting for sure. On top a slightly fruity note and on top of that a slightly meatier floral note. (This bit I like). I have to breathe as if my life depends on it, because the whole is pretty weak. It already smells pretty reduced. I’m guessing I know, by experience, what was there, but somehow got washed away by reduction. Still, no off notes, so nothing obtrusive to report here. I really feel I have to hurry smelling this before all the smell is gone, and I have to poor it again, to smell something. This really suffered a lot from reduction, because the nose, when you work on it hard, does show some interesting sides of itself. I wonder how this would be at cask strength.

Taste: Some sweetness, like a very weak Rhum Agricole, with quite some added sugar, paper and cardboard. Hints of cigarette, and some toasted wood notes, with added bitter notes shortly thereafter. Sweaty notes next, like the isolated sweaty notes of Sauvignon Blanc with added sweetness to the sweat. It’s not me, I have just showered. Hints of sweet fruits, but so diluted, that I can’t even tell witch fruit that can be, apart from the color, yellow. Papaya and peach, some banana in sweet yoghurt? Definitely some fresh butter in here as well. Super-short finish and a non existent aftertaste. Still slightly warming going down and even when this has no aftertaste, the meaty lavas bit of the smell (rancio?) does have some staying power.

Well…well, what can I say about this? I have to admit, it has been a long time I have tasted something as weak as this. It is so weak I would have difficulty, when tasted blind, telling if this is a Whisky to boot. I have never had a Whisky before which after you swallow it is immediately gone. Amazing, this isn’t worth your money, nor is it worth your time. Since this was brought to you by Diageo, and they do things on purpose, they must have an market in mind. I’m so curious how they would describe the consumer wanting stuff like this. Maybe its meant for mixing? having said all that, and I am rightfully so, pretty negative about this malt, I have to say the nose does bring a smile on my face. From an anoraks point of view, this is even an interesting Malt. Who would have thought…

Points: 76

Cardhu 22yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3600 bottles)

Cardhu is a very special distillery in the portfolio of Diageo, since it is their biggest selling malt (Spain and France mainly), but when talking to other enthusiasts the response isn’t all that…well enthousiastic. There is only talk of old bottles of Cardhu. Since 2006 a special cask reserve is issued, which isn’t welcomed with open arms, but since it sells so well, it must be the ultimate entry-level whisky. Personally I don’t like it.

Founded in 1811 by the illicit distiller John Cumming, who became legal in 1824. In 1884 the old distillery is replaced. Purchased by John Walker & Sons in 1893. Then in 2002 a small revolution took place. Cardhu, the whisky was silently changed into a vatted malt. (Several single malts blended together). The bottle and the label stayed the same, just the word ‘single’ changed into ‘pure’. Well this didn’t last long,  in 2004 the ‘pure malt’ was withdrawn. Luckily in 2005 this 22yo was issued.

Color: Gold.

Nose: Hmmmm, smooth. Sweet mocha. Fatty milk chocolate. Very elegant wood. Noses sweet and yes, smooth. It doesn’t seem overly complex, but is does smell very balanced. Everything fits and is instantly likeable. Hint of mens cologne, and an even smaller hint of sweat. Great!

Taste: Sweet and malty, with a sweet/spicy kick, and a peppery, warming, yet still sweet finish, with some butter and cream. A combination to die for. Very good. The wood profile is great, it’s there, but some components aren’t. Not a lot of bitterness, some sourness, but still it’s there with its spiciness. Again not overly complex, but all that’s there is great! Apricots on syrup are presented very late in the finish, excellent vegetal and green finish. Even though the fight between the sweet and sour seems a bit unbalanced, it is very interesting.

Points: 91