...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Mathilda Malt: Littlemill 10 year old 1989 Cadenhead's Authentic Collection

Yay! The annual Littlemill! Rather than pouring the usual 20+ year old thing, I have a 10yo 1989 with a punch-in-the-esophagus strength of 63.8%abv. Yeah, I should have saved this for Mathilda's 10th birthday, but I want the punishment now.

Does anyone know why Cadenhead single casks were often bottled young and outrageously hot in the 1990s? Was there a cask management issue? Or did they blow through their most fabulous stuff during the dumpy bottle era?

Because this whisky may require a lot of water, I'm going to drink it in the bathtub.

Distillery: Littlemill
Region: Lowlands
Independent Bottler: Cadenhead
Range: Authentic Collection
Age: 10 years (1989 - June 1999)
Maturation: Hogshead
Outturn: 312 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 63.8%
(from a bottle split)

I'm starting this tasting with a diluted pour so I don't burn my senses too early.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 2¼ tsp per 30mL whisky

The nose begins with grapefruit, cardamom, and ethyl up front and some OBE funk in the background. Across 30 minutes, it shifts to roses, orange peel, and moss. The palate also moves around over time. It starts with a surprising mix of coffee grounds, raw cocoa, and saltines.  Then it becomes floral and sweet, with a metallic hint in the corner. Vanilla and lemon zest appear later. It finishes with lemons and raw cocoa.


Much brighter and more stable at full strength, the nose shows flower blossoms, plums, citronella, raspberry candy, and ginger ale, as well as an earthy hint in the background. There's the coffee and cocoa in the palate again, but now tart lemons, bitter melon rinds, and bitter herbs join in. Perhaps it's the 30+ minutes of breathing time (for the whisky), but it's very approachable at this strength. Coffee and limes fill the finish, along with hints of metal and bitter herbs.


Dear Cadenhead management of 24 years ago, why did you pull this bun out of the oven so early? Yeah, the whisky is kinda cool and funny, but was anyone really in a rush to buy super-high-proof 10 year old Lowland whisky in 1999? Sincerely, Some guy who could finally legally drink in 1999.

As noted above, I gave this Littlemill some time to air out, which may be why I liked it better at cask strength. It's still exhausting stuff, mostly of interest for educational purposes. Though I welcome all the tart citrus in this single malt, it actually makes me appreciate 20+ year old Littlemill even more, as that characteristic lives on for another decade or more in the cask, becoming better integrated and more complex.

Looking forward to next year's Littlemill...

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 83 (neat only)

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