One gets the sense that the folks at Glenmorangie must be sitting on a nice stockpile of well-aged whiskey, the way they keep introducing new extra-age expressions. It was evident when the distillery increased the age statement of its core, port-finished Quinta Ruban single malt from 12 to 14 years in 2019, and without raising the price to boot. And here comes another special release: The new Cadboll Estate Single Malt Scotch Whisky, an exclusive for the U.S. market that also marks an interesting first for Glenmorangie—the company’s first single-estate whisky.
As the name would suggest, all the barley for The Cadboll Estate was in fact grown on the Glenmorangie grounds in the Scottlish Highlands, planted and harvested and malted to the direction of the distillery’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks, Dr. Bill Lumsden. The company says he “used that bespoke malt to distill a uniquely creamy spirit,” before transferring it into exclusively first-fill bourbon casks. The Cadboll Estate carries a 15-year age statement, and weighs in at 43% ABV (86 proof), with an MSRP of $85.
Given all that, and the classic Glenmorangie yeast profile, I’m going in expecting a fairly rich, fruity, somewhat decadent single malt dram. Let’s see how they did, and how the use of estate-grown barley may have affected the product.
On the nose, I’m arguably getting more oak and sugar-driven aromatics than fruit, with big toffee and heavy bourbon, segueing into candied nuts and oak. There is a red fruitiness to Cadboll Estate, though, with subtle notes like raspberry and darker plum, along with the suggestion of freshly baked biscuits. That combination of dark fruit and nuttiness almost suggests sherry, despite the use of only first-fill bourbon barrels, but I guess that’s just an illusion.
On the palate, the first thing that grabs one’s attention is strong cocoa and toffee notes. This is a very chocolately and nutty dram, with a lot of toastiness from those relatively fresh barrels, and a bit of more overt roast as well. It’s also grainy in a more fresh way than you might expect—possibly their estate barley at work—in a way that made me write “baked honey and caramel biscuits, with a bit of nutmeg.” Where the nose implies a lot of richness, what I find on the palate is only moderately sweet—there’s an initial honey-caramel sweetness, but it segues into toast and oak in a way that stops it from continuing on into decadence. As on the nose, I don’t find this one all that fruity, but I’m enjoying the richer notes of caramel, vanilla and custard.
All in all, The Cadboll Estate wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it’s pretty tasty nonetheless. In particular, this seems like a desirable dram for fans of first-fill bourbon barrels, as they express themselves strongly, as well as richer single malts with no discernible smoke or peat.
Distillery: The Glenmorangie
City: Tain, Scotland
ABV: 43% (86 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $85 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident brown liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.