I’ve always felt that the story behind a bottle is often as important as what’s inside. When the two are both good, the result can be exceptional.
Of the four new bottles I opened with @Maddie, @Victor and @Paddockjudge when they visited in May, this is the last one left to review. As I post it on my journey toward an epic 100th review, I reflect on the journey that was needed to get this bottle opened last month. Originally I bought a bottle of this over the phone from a store in Halifax in spring 2016, but my friend who was to pick it up for me came back with a different bottle. You can read the story in this review:
This year @Astroke offered to arrange for his sister to pick up the bottle, and after assuring me she would know the right bottle, I went ahead. About a week after she picked it up, the expression was no longer listed in Nova Scotia. Eventually the bottle made its way to me, and we opened it on May 21. When I poured it tonight, it was more than 4/5 full and gassed from the original opening.
This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.
Neat – In the Glencairn, immediately there is a sweet peat with citrus. Light syrup, More alcohol but slightly richer in the snifter. Not overly complex but beautiful nose. 23/25
With water – In the Glencairn, I get dust, smoked ham, the peat and the citrus are still there but less so and well integrated. Salty sea air. Everything (including the alcohol – ouch!) is magnified in the snifter, and I can pick out sweet pineapple, some slightly under-ripe banana and BBQ sauce. Fascinating nose! (24/25)
Neat – In the Glencairn, powerful dry peat, with a lemony and sweet peat development. A little more smooth with more lemon in the snifter. 23/25
With water – An explosion of flavour. In the Glencairn the citrus in amplified, sweet peat along with some ash. Thick, rich, oily mouthfeel. (23.5/25)
Finish: Dry, sour, ash in the finish. With water I get some menthol. 22/25
Balance: This is a peat bomb in the nose and the mouth, but there are added flavours that make it more rounded and interesting. 22.5/25 With water (23/25)
Score: Neat - 90.5/100 With Water: 92.5/100
Overall Score: 93/100
Interestingly, warming the whisky with the modified Ashok manoeuvre softens the nose and flavours (still delicious) in the glencairn, rather than exploding them as in Amrut peated CS.
This is a fantastic whisky. It reminds me of how wonderful the OB CS bottling was when I tried it with @TAlexander almost 3 years ago. Caol Ila is shaping up to be one of my favourite Islay distilleries. Thanks again to @Astroke for helping to make this happen.