Comparison: The Cardrona Just Hatched

Comparison: The Cardrona Just Hatched
Pinot Noir v Sherry & Bourbon

This is a slightly different post style from us, but one that will hopefully be featuring more on this blog in the future. As we get to experience more expressions from different distilleries, it’s great to see how they compare to one another – and see if we can pick up familiar flavour palates! It seems only fitting that we would start with The Cardrona Just Hatched as it was one of our first full-sized bottles purchased.

Distillery History

The Cardrona Distillery is based in the snowy New-Zealand Cardrona mountains. As a relatively new distillery, they have released a number of spirits including a vodka, a gin, and flavoured liquors. Founded by Desiree Whitaker they bottled their first spirit in late 2015.

We’ve been lucky enough to listen to a number of Cardona representatives on virtual tasting events, and it turns out that they were originally going to wait to release a later age expression. It was however, decided to release a young whisky to document the journey of the spirit, and demonstrate the flavour development. We are of course very glad that they did!

First Thoughts

First introduced to this whisky by the January Pour & Sip box. We were immediately taken with the smaller size and design of the bottle. Paired with the wooden display box it is a great show piece on our shelf! Given how young the spirit is, we were also pleasantly surprised by the intensity of the colours, a great golden for the Sherry & Bourbon casks, with a slightly burn amber for the Pinot Noir cask.

As we purchased our Sherry & Bourbon finish via the Pour & Sip shop, we were also treated to a Cardrona branded dram glass – a great bonus!

Tasting Notes

Just Hatched – Pinot Noir

Nose: red fruit, strawberry, like jam! There is a nutty edge as well. A bit like birthday cake with vanilla sponge, fruit jam, and topped with nuts. Fresh, clean, and rich.
Palate: red fruit really comes through, with vanilla and woodiness around the sides of the mouth. Some peppery spice too.
Finish: long lasting sweetness and fruitiness. Vanilla really pulls through at the end. Notes of spiced plums and toffee.

Opened in celebration, this feels like a very special dram. We feel incredibly lucky to try something where there are so few bottles around. This whisky has bags of flavour, and punches well above its age in terms of depth, character, and quality.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Just Hatched – Bourbon and Sherry Cask

Nose: waxy lemon and a nutty cake with hints of a really rich creamy pudding, think rice pudding. Lots of citrus coming through with buttery/nutty notes too
Palate: buttery ginger biscuit with a touch of oily nuts and an orangey citrus. Honey shortbread, lemon puff biscuits with a sweetened lemon cream finish
Finish: lemon and malty biscuit, warming with the vanilla notes coming through at the end

This is punchy however, adding a couple of drops of water opens it up and takes the edge off for those who don’t like cask strength whisky! I would keep going back to this bottle again and again alas Cardrona are no longer making it as they move to older expressions. We of course will be trying to get hold of them as they are released. A dram of this offers plenty and as it opens it just gives more, lots of buttery citrus notes with honey and vanilla. It it truly is a delight.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Final Thoughts

The clear colour, smell, and taste differences in these two whiskies is a true testament to the importance of casks in whisky maturing. Although obviously related, even in such a short space of time the different casks have imparted heaps of varied flavour.

As you can probably tell from the ratings above our favourites are both different. Which is fantastic, given the relatively small size of the bottles, and the difficulty we would have tracking down another Pinot Noir finish! We’re both in agreement that it will be interesting to follow this distillery’s journey, and we’re looking forward to future age releases. They clearly have a new make spirit that packs a punch, so further experimentation with the casks could also lead to some fun results.

Unexpectedly, we have added New Zealand to our travel list (once the world opens up again!) with Cardrona being top of the hit list. Let us know in the comments below if you have tried any New Zealand whiskies?

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