This Caol Ila is the second of the three James MacArthur bottles I split with Michael Kravitz of Diving for Pearls and Florin (third-string quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and the Eater of Worlds). I liked the Longmorn a lot–will this be as good?
This review is also being simulposted with Michael’s and the link will be up as soon as I have it (and here it is). As always we have not discussed the whisky or our notes.
Caol Ila 12, 1996 (59.5%; James MacArthur “Old Masters”; cask 2103; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: A little rubbery right off the bat but then there’s the peat, deep and phenolic and inky-sweet. With more time there’s some pencil lead and something meaty as well–in fact, the peat starts getting a little farmy and now there’s some rotting organic material in here. With even more time there’s some fruit–lime but also something sweeter–and some warm vanilla. And more than 30 minutes later there’s a strong cereal note. With a few drops of water it’s all about the lime but now it’s a little sweeter and integrated nicely with the (mildly) farmy smoke.
Palate: Drier, more acidic smoke on the palate followed by the lime and rather a lot of salt. More coal on the second sip and then there’s some of that wet earth/stones thing I often get from Caol Ila. With more time there’s more lime but not a whole lot more. Let’s see what water does. Brighter and sharper with water and more of the wet stones come out too. No new flavours though.
Finish: Long. The smoke and the lime and the salt just keep going and going after the first swallow. With the second sip the salt calms down. The finish gets more intense and more limey with water.
Comments: This is rather nice. I liked the nose the best (and blind, I would have said from the nose that it was Laphroaig, not Caol Ila)–the palate was more direct and less complex but still rather good. Very drinkable at full strength but I recommend adding water after a while. Hmmm…I may have to go back and see if the store I got this from has another.
Rating: 87 points.