Wullie McMorland, the sympathetic Netherscot who has been running the well-known whisky restaurant The Hielander in Alkmaar since 1989 and was appointed Keeper of the Quaich in 2016, also organizes the so-called Hielander Whisky Festival every year and that is invariably accompanied by a festival bottling. Wullie always makes sure that this bottling is not only good and affordable, but that it also looks fantastic. For 2022 it was a 13-year-old Caol Ila from 2008 that was presented in a beautiful, engraved decanter in a gift box with two matching Glencairn glasses. I consider myself lucky to have gotten hold of a bottle and recently shared it with friends in an online masterclass. For me it was one of the highlights of the evening.
This is a relatively naked Caol Ila if you know what I mean. Ashes, kelp, diesel smoke from a fishing boat, stockfish and something medicinal that reminds me a bit of ban-aids and burn ointment. Once you get past this, you will also discover some citrus fruit and a hint of pear and a lot of mint. I love this.
Nice and oily and immediately peaty and medicinal. Yes, the band-aids return and are surrounded by a large cloud of smoke, while the citrus and a touch of vanilla have all the trouble in the world to show themselves. Nice and salty and sweet at the same time. And absolutely delicious in its genre, believe me.
The long finish continues on that momentum. Long, heartwarming, smoky, salty and sweet at the same time. Smoked fish with a drop of lime juice on the deathbed. Great!
Very handsome selection of Wullie. Perhaps it is still somewhere on the shelf in his restaurant. Reason enough to go to Alkmaar again.