Showing posts with label Balvenie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Balvenie. Show all posts

Wardhead 1997 (Carn Mor)

”Songs from the Wood” 

Whisky Review # 943

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Wardhead 1997 (Carn Mor - Celebration of the Cask Series)
Distilled on: 20-02-1997
Bottled By/For: Morrison & MacKay (MMcK) on 01/08/2018
Type: Single Cask Blended Malt Scotch Whisky - Cask # 43 - 354 Bottles
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 54.6% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 140-160 (April 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay. A 21 Year old Single Malt is never cheap these days!
Buying Advice: 😔 Not bad at all but probably only for Woody Woodpeckers!

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)


A Mix of Sweet and slightly Sour notes. Quite Malty and Yeasty. The Oak is quite noticeable and so is the Alcohol. There's still sufficient Glenfiddich Fruit to be noted but this Spirit could have done with fewer years in the casks. Anywhere between 15 and 18 years would have been just fine. The Nose is not unpleasant but nothing out of the ordinary as well.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, German Butter Biscuits, Honey, Yeast, Green Apple, Pear, Mix of Nuts and Dried Fruit like Apricot, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Slightly Dusty Casks, Cinnamon and Mint.    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Wax, Resin, Powder Sugar, Grass/Straw, Mandarin, Banana, Lemon, Strawberry Yogurt, Melon, Pineapple, Nougat, Floral Soap, Tobacco, Green Leaves,  Wet Rocks, Fresh and Dried Herbs, Ginger and Pepper.


The Sweet and Sour notes of the Nose are still there but they are threatened by the Bitterness of Cask and Wood Spices. I miss balance here. Either Mr. Morrison or Mr. MacKay should have bottled it a few years earlier in my opinion 😉. The Alcohol is noticeable as well. Somehow I got images of an Apple Pie that was kept in a brand new wooden box for a couple of weeks!

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Syrup, Honey, Wax, Resin, Yeast, Dough, Pear, Green Apple, Mandarin, Banana, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Bounty Bars, Capuccino, Earth, Dusty Charred Oak, Coconut, Pepper, Ginger and Mint. 
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Melon, Lemon, Strawberry, Leather, Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Aniseed, Licorice and Cinnamon.

Quite Long with lots of Bitter Oak and Menthol. Quite Dry towards the end. Oak and Wood Spices are really controlling the Sweet Malt and Sour Fruit at this point. This really should have been bottled earlier. Still, it's better than most of today's boring Malts. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream, Toffee, Honey, Wax, Simple Syrup, Grass/Straw, Green Apple, Pear, Banana, Green Grapes, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin, Toasted Almonds, Charred Oak, Wax, Cacao Powder, Herbal Tea, Floral Soap, lightly Burnt Marshmallow, Green Leaves, Leather, Tobacco, Cinnamon, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Aniseed, Mint and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

You can certainly add a spoonful of Water to this Wardhead thereby diminishing the Bitterness somewhat and increasing the Fruitiness. It obviously loses some of the original raw character as well. I liked it both ways actually.

Rating: 86

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. Would be better with less cask time.


William Grant & Sons are the owners of the Speyside distilleries Glenfiddich and The Balvenie. When they sell Casks with Glenfiddich Spirit to Independent Bottlers like Morrison & MacKay, they add a teaspoon of The Balvenie and label it as Wardhead. This way, the independent bottlers can't sell it as Glenfiddich and also not as Single Malt as the minimum amount of The Balvenie classifies the mix as a Blended Malt.

I fully enjoyed this Tasting session. Let me explain. On the one hand this Malt has certainly overstayed its time in the cask causing a Bitterness that will not please most Whisky lovers as it compromises the Fruitiness of the Glenfiddich Spirit. But on the other hand it shows Character, something I so dearly miss in todays Mainstream Malt Madness. If you like the standard Glenfiddich expressions you should not go for this one but if you're looking for some Raw Woody Adventure you should give this Wardhead a chance!


Jan van den Ende                                                                           April 20, 2022