Cardrona Just Hatched

Cardona Header

Sounds like I’m reporting on some sort of poultry breaking out of its shell, doesn’t it? I assure you, it’s not. It’s the first single malt release from the newly-established Cardona distillery, which was built in 2015 in the hills of the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s south island, and essentially represents the distillery’s bar mitzvah; where new make spirit grows up and matures into three year old whisky.

It’s released at a rather punchy cask strength of 64.4% ABV (they fill into cask at 66%) and is a vatting of six first fill ex-bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill and one first fill ex-oloroso sherry butt from Gonzalez-Byass.

Cardrona Just Hatched
New Zealand Single Malt
6 ex-bourbon barrels and 1 ex-sherry butt
64.4% ABV
£74.95 here (37.5cl)

Nose: The youthful notes jump out the glass first – balsa, pine, lemon scented cleaner, and some tarty fruits – then it settles down; banana, mango, and some floral notes. Deeper things emerge with fig, plum, apricot and jammy dodgers. Firm oak, cloves and pencil shavings underpin everything.

Palate: Rather oily to begin, with truffle oil, and some green olives. Then orange marmalade, fresh laundry, buttery notes, and vanilla Angel Delight. Aromatic woods too. The ABV brings a not-unpleasant root ginger spice, along with white pepper and lime peel.

Finish: Those sherry casks are really felt now, with dried fruit mix, cherry loaf, and grippy oak.

Overall: For a mere three years old, this is very impressive liquid. There’s lots of flavour to be had, and although the alcohol is a major player, it doesn’t kill the palate after a couple of sips. Everything bodes very well for mid and long term maturation, and I can see this becoming a really interesting, high quality whisky when it’s a few years older. One hang up I have though, is the price. Yes, it is made quite literally on the other side of the world, it’s small batch, and it’s bottled at cask strength, but £75 for a 37.5cl is an eyebrow raising asking price. That’s where I fear for this whisky, and this distillery more generally; unless the price becomes much more competitive, I’m not sure how successful it’ll be. Having said that, if you see it available in a bar by the dram I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.



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