An Imperial Moment: Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Imperial 16 Whisky Tasting Notes

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Imperial (of Glenlivet) was a Speyside distillery opened in 1897 by the owner of Talisker and Dailuaine, Thomas Mackenzie. Named Imperial to denote Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee on the throne and became operational just in time for the Pattison’s of Leith crash which caused a wide recession in the whisky industry, prompting its closure for over two decades. It finally re-opened in 1919. Just six years later, in 1925, DCL who acquired the distillery, mothballed it again – this time until 1955. For those of you keeping score we have less than seven years of operation to 51 years of silence giving us a ratio slightly lower than 1:7 years of silence to every year of operation…..

For three whole decades, 1955-1985, the fires roared under the Imperial stills (until steam coils were installed), but in 1985 silence fell again in Carron, but only for a short time, as the distillery was sold to Allied Distillers (eventually becoming part of the Chivas Bros. portfolio due to the 2005 Allied-Domecq sale to Pernod Ricard) and reopened from 1989 to 1998. In 1998, the distillery was mothballed, then closed in 2000.

Plans for residential real estate development on the site were stopped, and Chivas Bros. have announced that a new distillery would be built on the grounds and demolished the old buildings in 2013. Will the new distillery be named Imperial?


There has been only one official bottling, of a 15 year old, but there are quite a few independent bottlings around, many of them still available for purchase.

I tasted the Cadenhead’s 16 year at the Union Jack in Berlin, and here are my tasting notes:


Imperial 16 Year Old Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection (Distilled 11/79, bottled 1/96) (64.3% ABV, NCF, NC)

Photo is NOT of the expression I tasted (this one is a 17 year old), but the bottle looks like it.... Photo Credit:

Photo is NOT of the expression I tasted (this one is a 17 year old), but the bottle looks like it….
Photo Credit:


Color: Gold, thick legs followed by occasional clinging drops rolling down the glass.

Nose: After the initial alcohol hit on the nose (it is, after all 64.3% ABV) you’ll get sweet American oak notes – vanilla, toffee and caramel. Lemony sweetness, sugar powder doughnuts and lemon rind, with the white. With the addition of water notes of tropical fruit like pineapple and papaya come through.

Palate: Ripe pears, cinnamon and sugar in a very smooth and mouth coating delivery, with a very powerful alcoholic attack to start.

Linger: long and sweet in the back of the mouth with tropical fruit notes.

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