Let’s close out this week of reviews of whiskies from Islay distilleries with another young whisky released in 2021. As you have memorized and therefore don’t need me to remind you, my first review this week was of the new Ardbeg 8 and my second review was of the new Laphroaig 10 Sherry Oak. I am not sure what, if any, sherry cask involvement there is in the Ardbeg 8 but the Laphroaig has the sherry applied via an oloroso cask finish—a finish that melds very well with the spirit. This 12 yo Caol Ila takes the sherry further: it’s the result of a full-term maturation in a first-fill oloroso hogshead. The combination of “first-fill” and “hogshead” gives me a bit of pause: hopefully it’s not a recipe for raw, oaky sherry bomb. I am hopeful, however, as some of my very favourite sherried peated whiskies have been Caol Ilas—though I can’t recall if I have previously reviewed a specified oloroso cask. Let’s see where this one falls. Continue reading
I’m still on Islay. On Friday I had a review of a 23 yo indie Bunnahabhain; today I have a review of an indie Bowmore that is a couple of years older still. I’ve not had too many Bowmores in this age range and have only reviewed one older than this one (the Sea Dragon). I have had a number of Bowmores from the period in which this was distilled and have liked almost all of them very much indeed. As you may know/recall, 1980s Bowmore does not have a very good reputation—for among other things, a soapy character—and a lot of whisky geeks remained suspicious of the distillery’s output into the early/mid 1990s as well. My own experience—far more limited than some others’—suggests that the problems had begun to sort themselves out by 1989 or so and that by the early 1990s the distillery was once again putting out elegant whisky that displayed fruit alongside its trademark florals. Of course, those floral notes are also not to everyone’s taste but that’s not to say they’re a flaw. Anyway, I’m very interested to see what this one is like, both on account of its age and because it’s from a refill sherry cask. I think all the others I’ve reviewed from this era have been either ex-bourbon or more heavily sherried. Let’s get to it. Continue reading
As we wait, wait, wait for election results to come in, here is a review of a Clynelish: my third review overall of a 20+ yo Clynelish from 1989 and only my second Clynelish review for the year. Data! Everyone loves meaningless data, right? Maybe I’ll apply for a job at fivethirtyeight.com. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, this is the third 1989 Clynelish I’ve had and it’s the third from a bourbon cask to boot. The previous two were 22 and 23 years old, respectively and I liked the 23 yo more than the 22 yo. This one is 24 years old. That might seem like a guarantee of extra goodness but that extra year could have been fatal. Let’s see if that was indeed the case.
Clynelish 24, 1989 (53.1%; Adelphi; refill bourbon cask 3846; from my own bottle)
Nose: Honey, lemon zest, a bit of pepper and yes, wax. A little grassier on the second sniff and a little herbal (sage). Gets more savoury as it sits with some ham brine. With more time there’s some sweeter fruit (apricot). Not a tremendous change with water: some cream, less ham, but otherwise more or less the same mix. Continue reading
This is a mystery malt from the independent bottler Adelphi. They’ve released a few in this series, a couple at 12 yo and a couple at 14 yo. I’m not sure if they’re all supposed to be from the same distillery or if there are any rumours/theories about the identity of the source of each release; usually most mystery Islay malts seem to be said to be Ardbegs or Lagavulins, on account of these being the two that are usually not available as independents (and also probably on account of some wishful thinking on part of buyers which, of course, is to the benefit of the sellers).
If anyone knows of any reliable “nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know what I mean?” about this bottle please write in below.