Cardhu 15 years is elegant and takes time to reveal its delicate, fruity, and rich character, repaying a little thoughtful contemplation.
Eyes: Deep old gold.
Body: Light on the palate, with a medium body.
Nose: Slow to give off its secrets, with mere hints of a fruity richness and spicy complexity to come. A swirl of the glass releases enticing, clean vanilla notes and tropical fruit. Soon, the fruits are dried (light fruit cake with flaked almonds).
Adding water brings out the typical Speyside character, and makes the nose slightly more acidic. Late on, at last, greater depth and complexity: sweet, spicy and rich, finishing with dense toffee and toasted coconut.
Palate: Slow to venture forth and quite viscous straight. Cooling, then peppery and lightly charred. Growing richer, still sweet, but now with toffee and chocolate; burnt sugar on a Crème Brûlée. With water, less viscous and sweeter with almost no acidity; very pleasant and easy to drink.
Finish: Smooth, light and slightly drying, with attractive bitter chocolate notes. Not overly long, with a hint of faint smoke at the end.
With its fruit cake, almonds and tropical fruit flavours, Cardhu 15 years shines best when served neat.