Caol Ila 8, 2013 (Thompson Bros. for K&L)


Peated Islay week started with Batch 013 of the Laphroaig 10 CS. It turned out to be my least favourite of the batches so far—though by no means a bad whisky. Today I have a review of a slightly younger Islay whisky. Speaking of which, ignore what it says on the sample bottle label in the picture alongside: that second line listing age and abv was swapped accidentally with that of a Thompson Bros. Teaninich. This is a Caol Ila 8, distilled in 2013 and bottled at 57% abv. Caol Ila is almost always good for the kind of nuance missing in that Laphroaig 10 CS, especially when matured in bourbon casks; and this one was matured in a refill hogshead. The bottlers are Simon and Phil Thompson of the Dornoch Distillery and hotel (see my brief account of a visit there in 2018). They are well-known figures in the single malt whisky world and are working as small-scale independent bottlers as their own spirit waits to come online. This is one of a few casks they’ve bottled recently for K&L in California. Let’s see what it’s like.

Caol Ila 8, 2013 (57%; Thompson Bros. for K&L; refill hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Coal smoke, coastal notes (brine, kelp, oysters), some green chile pepper, cracked black pepper. On the second sniff there’s some lemon peel and some vanilla-cream. Continues in this vein. Water turns the lemon to citronella and dials down the smoke.

Palate: Comes in with more citrus but otherwise as on the nose. More wood char as I swallow. Quite approachable at full strength with thick, oily texture. More oak on the second sip and more wood smoke. More salt with time and it gets more phenolic; some wet wool too now. A few drops of water and the oak and char get pushed back. A nice combination of sweet and savoury now (roast pork).

Finish: Long. The wood char is more pronounced here and the phenols expand as well along with the lemon peel which gets quite waxy. Salt crystals at the end. As on the palate with water at first but then it picks up some tar at the very end..

Comments: Despite being from a refill hogshead, there’s just a touch too much oak on the palate (neat); and there’s just about as much complexity as you’d expect to find at this age (i.e none): but that apart this is a very nice bourbon cask Caol Ila that punches above its age bracket. I think this is long sold out but at $49 I’d have bought more than one. A great price for a very good young malt.

Rating: 87 points. (Pulled up with water.)


 

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