Category Archives: Bladnoch

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

SMWS 50.43 “Tart And Tasty” Review

SMWS 50.43 “Tart And Tasty”005

57.8% abv

Score:  91.5/100


Another l’il ‘distiller-that-could’ story for ya.  Bladnoch was at one time a Diageo holding.  In 1993, during the same downturn that saw the loss of Rosebank, Balmenach and Pittyvaich, the distillery was boarded up and had a handful of mothballs rolled into the stillroom.  Most equipment was peeled out and for all intents and purposes this seemed the end of the line.

Surprisingly, about a year later the distillery was snatched from the hands of oblivion by an Irish gent named Raymond Armstrong.  The arrangement between Diageo to Armstrong was a conditional one however.  The terms included the proviso that the distillery was no longer to be used for the production of whisky.  Fast forward a few years and much local petitioning to 2000, when the spirit began to flow at Bladnoch once more.  Three years (and a day) later, Armstrong was able to claim an end to the gestation period and release his first whisky composed of entirely post-distillery-reopening-stock.

The market currently sees a mix (albeit sparse)of young ‘Armstrong Bladnoch’ and older ‘Diageo Bladnoch’.  The interesting thing is that, unlike in most distillery handovers, the Bladnoch transition included no stores of slumbering barrels, effectively leaving the team with a blank slate and no old stocks to support revenue generation.  What this means is that new and young Bladnoch releases are courtesy of Armstrong, anything beyond those years (13 and older, I’d say), was produced under a different lord and outside the influence of the current management.

As hinted at above, this is just a wee operation.  Capacity of about a quarter million litres, and to be honest with you…I don’t even believe they are flowing that.  (Please correct me if I am wrong, as I know there are a couple of Bladnoch fans who visit here).

Anyway…we’re rooting for Bladnoch and hoping to see a bit more hit the shops ’round these parts, as we scarce find bottles on Canadian shores.

Hopefully this changes soon.

In the meantime…a lovely independent offering from the SMWS here to discuss.  A neat older one (aged 20 years) from the days before Raymond took over…

Nose:  Paint.  A healthy ghost of pipe tobacco and smokiness.  Herbal and grassy.  Peach, orange and lemon pith.  Pie crust.  Soft white fruits.  Cream Of Wheat porridge with sugar.  Sugar cookie dough…or maybe shortbread cookie dough.

Palate:  Pie…not sure what kind, but sorta tart and fruity.  Spice.  Syrupy with some apple.  Just a smidgeon of orange ju-jube.  Oak and grass as it narrows and fades.  Gorgeous palate, even better than the nose.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt