Caol Ila 15, 2000 (Malts of Scotland for van Zuylen)

Caol Ila 15, 2000, Malts of Scotland
I am not generally a fan of whiskies finished in red wine casks. A lot of this is Glenmorangie and Murray McDavid/Bruichladdich’s fault, but when I see that a whisky has been finished in a red wine cask I assume the worst. That said, peated malts seem to survive such encounters the best and this here is a Caol Ila. Like Friday’s Ardbeg, this was bottled by Malts of Scotland for van Zuylen in their “Dunes An Oir” series (Gaelic for “dunes of gold”, I believe) and it was finished in a Banyuls cask. Banyuls is a sweet, fortified wine, and so, in theory, at least, it may end up closer to a sherry or madeira finish than to a regular red wine finish. I think this was matured for 15 years in a bourbon cask and probably only saw a very brief “finish” in the wine cask—I’m guess the original cask was bourbon both from the outturn and on the basis that it’s unlikely anyone would do a wine finish on top of sherry maturation. Anyway, this is a rusty red in the glass—let’s see what it’s like on the nose and palate. Continue reading


Ardbeg 17, 1998 (Malts of Scotland for van Zuylen)

Ardbeg 17, 1998, Malts of Scotland
Since I started the week with Ardbeg. I might as well end it with Ardbeg too. This is from a sherry cask and was also bottled by Malts of Scotland for van Zuylen’s Dunes An Oir series. Given how rare indie Ardbegs of any kind are, leave alone from sherry casks, and given how manic the market for Ardbeg usually is, you might expect this to have to sold out double-quick. But as of my writing this is still available. Have the distillery’s own annual shenanigans finally begun to puncture some of its mystique? Probably not, but one can hope. Still, you’d think whisky geeks tired of NAS Ardbeg with tall tales and funny names attached might be attracted anyway to a 17 yo at cask strength from a bespoke bottler. No, I’m not trying to give you the hard sell on behalf of the retailer; just trying to wrap my head around the vagaries of the whisky market.

Anyway, let’s see what this is like. Continue reading

Caperdonich 17, 1996 (Malts of Scotland for van Zuylen)

Caperdonich 17, 1996, Dunes An Oir
Caperdonich was shuttered in 2002 and demolished in 2010. It is about as dead as a distillery can be. There’s still a fair bit of its malt from the years before closure floating around though and I hope some of it is being allowed to mature to a far greater age. As most whisky geeks know, old Caperdonichs from the 1960s and 1970s can be some of the most delightful and complexly fruity whiskies of them all. While this doubtless has a lot to do with older production regimes and barley varieties and so on, it would be interesting to find out how similar or different whisky distilled there in in later decades might be if allowed to reach similarly ripe old ages.

That said, I’ve enjoyed a number of teenaged Caperdonichs from the 1990s (see this 18 yo, for example). If this one, bottled by Malts of Scotland for the Dutch retailer, van Zuylen, is as good as those I’ll be happy enough.  Continue reading