Caol Ila week began with a sherry butt-finished 10 yo bottled by Sovereign (another of the Laing labels) for K&L in California. I really liked that one. Here now is an 11 yo. This is a bourbon hogshead and was bottled by a relatively new outfit named The Whisky Jury who have not put out so very many casks. I don’t really know anything about them or what the reputation of their releases is but Caol Ila + bourbon hogshead is almost always a recipe for goodness. Let’s hope this doesn’t let me down.
Caol Ila 11, 2008 (53.1%; The Whisky Jury; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: A bit closed as I pour but opens up quickly to reveal mineral peat, loads of seashells plus brine and kelp (a whole coastline’s worth), citronella and dettol. Some vegetal notes on the second sniff along with some machine oil and shoe polish. Continues in this vein. A few drops of water emphasize the citronella and bring out some white pepper.
Palate: Comes in with the vegetal, slightly bitter notes in the lead and the acid following. A good punch at full strength but quite approachable. Sweeter on the second sip but the bitter, vegetal notes are still here. Not as coastal or as phenolic as on the nose—the smoke is more sooty (with some carbon paper mixed in) than bright. With time the bitter notes ease and the sweeter notes come to the top along with some lime peel and zest and wet stones. Okay, let’s add water. It pushes the bitter notes back, pulls out more sweetness and harmonizes the whole.
Finish: Long. Ashy at first and the vegetal notes continue. Develops as on the palate. Less ashy and generally as on the palate with water.
Comments: This was a very pleasant surprise. It tastes mature beyond its years. You know, with 10-11 yo Caol Ilas of the quality of Monday and today’s whiskies being released maybe we don’t need to worry about whether there is still great whisky being made in Scotland. Now price—that’s another story…
Rating: 89 points.