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Cardhu 11 yo ‘Special Release’ (2008/2020, OB, 56%)

Continuing our journey of tastings (what a nice periphrasis to justify the drunkenness, eh?) through this year’s Diageo Special Releases, we face an 11-year-old Cardhu, matured in a mix of refill, first fill ex-bourbon casks and virgin oak. OK, let’s face it: Cardhu is not exactly the sexiest distillery in Diageo’s portfolio, and although it’s a very strong malt (just think: it’s the third best-selling single malt among Diageo’s, and it’s in the top ten best-selling malts in the world!) in Italy it pays a bit for its delicate and, if we really want to be cruel, a bit anonymous character in its core range. Here however the music changes, because hey!, these are the Special Releases!, so let’s hope for a wriggle.

N: really open and pleasant, it starts with notes of delicious pastries, including marzipan, shortcrust pastry, a freshly baked lemon curd cake… Gradually a fruitier dimension opens up, among pears, apples and dried pineapples. There is a slight herbaceous aroma, of mown grass, which is very pleasant and does not bring a sense of youth, but gives a fresh streak. Only after a while do intense spicy notes emerge, between cinnamon and candied ginger.

P: the gentle, honest and herbaceous soul of Cardhu can be felt, resists, but is grafted onto a very intense wood base – and therefore vanilla and lemon cream, a little coconut and lots of marzipan. But then, with a little more attention, you will find notes of pollen, very light saffron, grass, pear juice…

F: long, all on Williams pear, a veil of marzipan and more hay.

We are not talking about a mastodon of complexity, but it is a whisky that expresses the soul of the distillery well, enhancing its peculiarities – and certainly the fact that it comes at cask strength, well, helps. There is everything one looks for in a young malt from Speyside: there is fruit, there is pastry, there are herbaceous and floral notes to refresh and remind us of the raw material. A convinced 87/100 for a very honest, very frank, and above all very well selected whisky. You can find it on sale online, in Italy also on Aquavitae.

Recommended soundtrack: Oscar Jerome – Where Are Your Branches (Where Is Your Fruit)

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