SMWS 53.258 Seared sweet briny scallops

Posted 02 August 2018 / In Caol Ila
The Dramble's review of SMWS 53.258 Seared sweet briny scallops

Bottle Name: 53.258 Seared sweet briny scallops

ABV: 61.3%
Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Region: Islay

A tough choice of colour-coding for this Caol Ila. Whilst it is undeniably coastal, it’s also still quite peaty. So blue or green? SMWS have chosen blue this time around, for a 9 year old matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead.

Nose: Intensely coastal and packed full of salty water, seafood, and meaty smoke. There’s certainly a sense of sweet scallops here – but one could also add some lobster bisque and bouillabaisse into the mix. Likewise, this is not without a meaty side – honey-roasted ham and reduced beef stock.  The protein-driven flavours marry perfectly with a maritime smoke that feels very natural (and integrated) – partly like the seafood and meats have sat in smoker for a few hours – partly like you’re then consuming them in a seaside cabin with a log fire roaring. These deep flavours are lifted by both salinity (a pinch of salt, a rock pool and some wet beach slate) and sweet fruits – red apples and sour lemons. With water, the smoke becomes a touch more ashy and sweetness is heightened with candied citrus peels.

Taste: Salty and briny – fish stock, oysters and you might as well throw in a pot of winkles and cockles and a reduced meat sauce whilst you’re at it. Caramel coated apples, lemons and baked goods prevent this drifting too far out to sea. Smoking is tarry with just a touch of medicinalness to it – wood fire, burning pipe tobacco and hospital floors. Reduced the emphasis is somewhat shifted to a fruitiness with both orchard (apple and pear) and stone (peach) fruits playing their part. The smoke is not diminished, but it does become more dusty and chalky. 

Finish: Long, with sweet peat, salt and plenty of surf and turf.

This Caol Ila is an outstanding example of sweet vs. peat vs. salt. Whilst I initially questioned the panel’s decision to not categorise this somewhere within the green (peated) flavour profile spectrum, I can totally see why they’ve stuck to Oily & Coastal. This is an incredibly maritime whisky packed full of coastal flavour, balance and intriguing nuance. My pick of this month and highly recommended. No, wait, what am I saying – it’s terrible – don’t buy it….OK fine, but at least leave a bottle for me! Fantastic stuff.

Score: 90/100


Master of Malt
Thank you for adding your link. We will review your link within 48 hours.

Distilleries

Scotland (414)
Aberfeldy (7)
Aberlour (9)
Ardbeg (4)
Ardmore (3)
Arran (19)
Auchroisk (1)
Aultmore (3)
Balblair (6)
Balmenach (2)
Balvenie (9)
Ben Nevis (1)
BenRiach (3)
Benrinnes (3)
Benromach (7)
Bladnoch (3)
Bowmore (7)
Cambus (2)
Caol Ila (10)
Clynelish (5)
Dailuaine (2)
Dalmore (9)
Deanston (1)
Dufftown (2)
Girvan (1)
Glen Ord (1)
Glengoyne (7)
Glengyle (3)
Glenlivet (8)
Hazelburn (1)
Kilchoman (3)
Knockando (1)
Knockdhu (2)
Lagavulin (1)
Laphroaig (15)
Linkwood (2)
Longmorn (4)
Longrow (3)
Macallan (8)
Macduff (1)
Mortlach (5)
Oban (1)
Scapa (1)
Speyburn (3)
Talisker (3)
Tamdhu (2)
Tobermory (11)
Tomatin (7)
Tomintoul (1)
Tormore (3)
Wolfburn (2)
Canada (3)
Ireland (12)
Bushmills (4)
Midleton (5)
Japan (29)
Chichibu (6)
Chita (1)
Eigashima (1)
Hakushu (2)
Yamazaki (2)
Yoichi (2)
Taiwan (5)
King Car (5)
USA (17)
Bernheim (2)