Bladnoch 21 y.o. (Cadenhead) Review

Bladnoch 21 y.o. (Cadenhead)093

54.9% abv

Score:  90/100


Just as Bladnoch seemed to be gaining some real inroads with whisky fans and connoisseurs around the globe word trickled out that the distillery was in receivership.  The doors were shuttered and the stills fell silent.  This contemporary mothballing happened just over a year ago.  A year and a day, actually.  There have been rumblings of resurrection and even one deal that fell through earlier this year, but as of the time of writing, unfortunately, there is no good news to report.  Moving on to happier thoughts now…

This particular whisky is a lovely old cask strength bottling from Scotland’s oldest independent bottler, Cadenhead.  At 21 years and a bold 54.9% it’s a stunning display for this wee little distillery.  Shows the strength of character inherent in the spirit.

Though Bladnoch releases are a little thin on the ground, you can find them if you’re in the right places and looking hard enough.  I highly recommend going a little out of your way if need be.  It’s good stuff and well worth a little extra effort.  Granted, my sample set of Bladnoch has been decidedly skewed in favour of older malts (I’ve not had one younger than 20 years), but they’ve also been relatively affordable older whiskies.  Definitely a mark in favour of the small craft producer as the way of the future for quality whisky (or so we hope anyway).

With the fate of currently-shuttered and ownerless Bladnoch still up in the air, and the present being a poor time for any sort of distillery investment, it’s no sure bet we’ll see new whisky from Bladnoch anytime soon, but we’ll cling to optimism for now.

Would love to get my hands on more malts from this distillery.  Good stuff.

Nose:  Vanilla cake.  Cinnamon and a faint touch of clove.  White chocolate.  Custard pie.  Melon, key lime and kiwi.  Just the faintest touch of strawberry jam on spiced loaf.  Sweet, soft and creamy.  Very dessert-like.

Palate:  Great big arrival.  Gorgeous.  Apple and very clean oak.  Slightly grassy and herbal.  Vanilla ice cream eaten off a wooden spoon (remember those Dixie Cups of ice cream that came with the little wooden paddle spoon thing?).  The crispy caramelized sugar of crème brûlée.  Pudding.  Spicier toward the back end, then a long warming finish.

Thoughts:  A great example of Bladnoch served up nekkid and natural.

* Thanks to Andrew Ferguson at Kensington Wine Market for the sample.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

5 thoughts on “Bladnoch 21 y.o. (Cadenhead) Review

  1. Athena

    I’d love to see a review of some of the contemporary bottlings. I was sad to hear of the distillery’s closing.

    Very hard to come by in my locale.

    I’ve seen some reviews on Connosr and Ralfy spoke very highly of this stuff.

    David seems to like it a lot, and the 10, 11 and 12 year olds had (obviously) age statements (you and Jeff would like that) and were craft presented at 46 or 55%.

    Seems like a distillery that could bring everyone together…

  2. skeptic

    That reminds me of the comment Homer Simpson made when he was told that pork, ham and bacon all came from the same animal. “sure, some magical animal” or something like that.

    I cannot think of anything that will bring us all together like that. Though having tasted Armstrong – era Bladnoch, I do agree it is magical…

  3. David

    It is a fantastic dram, I’ll agree with that. But given it’s a closed distillery, there’s no replacing what’s used.

    I’m very happy to share it with friends past, present or future, because a joy shared is a joy doubled. But that would require at minimum a ceasefire….

  4. two-bit cowboy

    Andrew and Scott Laing founded Editions Spirits in 2010 and began acquiring casks. They are the sons and nephews of the elder Laing brothers, and now part of their father’s half of the company after elder Laings split their company,

    Anyway, Andrew and Scott’s label is The First Editioins, and their first shipment to the USA in mid-2013 included a Bladnoch 21 year, bourbon cask, 167 bottles (90 to the USA), 51.2%. My notes on it read similar to your Cadenhead, Curt. A stunning malt.

    I would love to see a Benromach, BenRiach, or Ian MacLeod Distillers snap up Bladnoch, but, who knows? In this era it could easily become the next Rosebank or Littlemill. Sad, really.


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