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Review

Cadenhead Old Raj
(Red Label) Gin

Distillery

Wm Cadenhead Ltd. (J & A Mitchell & Co Ltd.), William Cadenhead Distillery, Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland, UK. Imported to the USA by Anchor Distilling Company, San Francisco/San Diego, California.

Website

William Cadenhead and Anchor Distilling

History

The company was founded in Aberdeen (its administrative office is still there) by George Duncan in 1842 and started out as importers, bottlers and wholesalers. Poet and Brother-in-law William Cadenhead joined the business in 1852 and he acquired the company (renaming it after himself), when George Duncan died in 1858. William Cadenhead died in 1904 and was succeeded by his nephew Robert Duthie, who developed the business into producers of Whisky and Rum. Robert Duthie was a bachelor and when he died in 1931 the business was passed to his two sisters. They entrusted the business to a long-term employee, Ann Oliver, who unfortunately was a poor overall manager and the business slowly declined.

In 1972 the business faced liquidation and sold off most of it’s stock, the biggest wine and spirits sale ever held in Great Britain, to cover its liabilities. The premises, equipments, brands etc were sold to J & A Mitchell & Co Ltd., owners of one of Scotland's oldest distilleries, Springbank Distillery. Mitchell’s had the company incorporated and kept the William Cadenhead name.

This Gin was launched in the US in 2008.

Production

The Gin is made from neutral grain spirit with all the botanicals (except the saffron) steeped for 36 hours before being distilled in a small pot still. The saffron is then added to this distillate, giving it a subtle spice note and it’s color.

The pale yellow/green colored Gin is presented in a tall clear rectangular bottle with a large white label. Red and black colored text is used including “Old Raj” in large red letters at the top, and in the middle is a sketch of a Viceroy (Governor-General) of India in full dress uniform of the British Raj.

Category

Distilled Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

46% (92 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$ - $$$$$. Try online at: Laurenti Wines, Fine Wine House, Liquorama or Wine Transit.

Botanicals

9 botanicals are used including: almond powder, angelica root, cassia bark, coriander seeds, juniper berries, lemon peel, orange peel, orris root and saffron.

Name

The name is a reference back to the days of the British Empire and its rule of India. It was known as the British Raj (Hindi for “Reign”) and spanned from 1858 until 1947/8, when it was granted its own independence and eventually partitioned into three separate counties: Burma (now Myanmar), Pakistan (now Pakistan and Bangladesh) and India.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is juniper with hints of citrus, earthy floral notes and spice plus faint anise. On the palate this full-bodied smooth spirit has spicy dry juniper and light fruitiness with citrus (lemon) and nutty (almond) notes plus faint mint. On the close is a zesty semi-sweet herbaceous (faint mint) and warm peppery spice finish. This Gin has a well-balanced degree of complexity and depth.

This is a good distinctive Gin and is nice taken neat, preferably with ice. In a Gin & Tonic it still makes a good citrusy and gentle juniper drink even though some subtle notes are lost (e.g. saffron). Makes a lovely Martini with greater juniper and slightly more spice and is perhaps better as a Dry Martini. This is a versatile Gin but it can be hard to find the drinks that draw out the best of the spirit (e.g. The G&T versus the Martini). Another favorite of ours is the Gimlet.   

Compared with its older sibling Cadenhead Old Raj (Blue Label) Gin this is a more subtle and mellow version. Unfortunately the Red Label edition is slightly overlooked in favor of the Blue Label, which is a shame because it is perhaps the slightly better of the two in a G&T.

Awards & Accolades

94 Points, Beverage Testing Institute.

89 Points, Wine Enthusiast.



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