Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottler: Dewar Rattray
Age: 21 years
Limitation: 311 bottles
Cask: Refill Butt 11144 (Part)
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Colour: white wine
The nose has an astonishing amount of peat smoke left for a 21-year-old dram! Peat smoked salted herring with tang, cigar ash, burning hard wood and latex gloves on much more mellow sweet notes of cake icing with a dash of lemon, honey and malt extract with vanilla pudding. Hm… the label says “sherry butt” – probably american wood and 3rd fill, so there’s no trace of sherry left.
The slightly tired wood has a great effect, though: The malt has not lost the punchy, peaty youth we love to see in Islay malts, but aging it for 21 years has taken the edge off, polishing and honing it the way only time can do. The palate is very accessible for nearly 57% ABV – once again, that’s time working its magic! The x-fill cask is more noticeable now, or rather, the lack of added flavours. Oily and mouth-coating with fragrant (and much more tame) peat smoke, burning fishing nets, scallops with marmalade, salted caramel (light caramel), honey, icing sugar and smoked lychee water. Ah yes, the strange qualities of refill wood. Speaking of wood: No oak whatsoever! The medium long finish initially packs a punch but without being harsh and the peat phenols with smoked herrings and the scallops with sweet marmalade and honey are back, too.
Ah yes, refill wood and peated malts, a combo much to my liking keeping the malt punchy and peaty but mellowing and polishing it with the wood adding whatever sweetness is left in the staves. Complexity by maturity and age, I like to call it.
(Nose: 87 Palate: 88 Finish: 86)
Thanks to malt mate Manny for the sample!