ABV: 60.8% Distillery: Caol Ila Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society Region: Islay
The near obligatory 53 this month comes from September of 2008. It has spent 9 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Peated profile.
Nose: Smoke first – lemon influenced, semi-sweet, but tinged with a real industrialness about it – old machinery, lubricant and steel. Running throughout, sweet prawns, lemon meringue pie and a fresh coastal air. Reduction brings out some overt medicinal notes – seaweed, pungent phenolic peat, ozone and salinity.
Taste: A bolder palate with plenty of impact – the arrival is oily with seafood and citrus – zest covered oysters, brined fish and limoncello. Smoke is not far behind – part medicinal, part log fire – floor cleaner, bandages and burning fireplace logs. The addition of water brings out more dusty smoke – coal dust and fireplace ash.
Finish: Long, quite dusty with plenty of acrid ash, tarry ropes and final squeeze of lemon.
Solid, but not earth-shattering Caol Ila with plenty of lemony distillery character and a robust palate. Not a home run, but then I honestly feel you can never go too far wrong with any of the Society’s 53s.
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