Brave New Spirits The Haunting Songs (Caol Ila) & Whisky Broker (Cree) CaoI Ila 12yo cask #318247


We've got a couple of sherry/wine cask-finished IB Caol Ila's to kick the week off.

Brave New Spirits The Haunting Songs (Caol Ila)

Region: Islay

ABV: 51.6%

Price: £78.50

This small batch release is a marriage of 12yo spirit that was finished in first fill Sherry hogsheads. 694 bottles were released.

Nose

On the nose, there are aromas of dry roasted peanuts, lime cordial, and a robust punch of smoke complemented by dry wood, pear drop sweets, and toffee brittle. Time reveals additional notes of tar, iodine, ash, peanut butter, a slight sourness reminiscent of cola bottles, and vanilla essence, along with caramel and burnt toast. We’re not finding the sherry influence overly pronounced, but the alcohol is well integrated.

Palate

The palate opens with dry roasted peanuts and a distinct sweetness reminiscent of sugar cubes. The flavour profile is a little dry, showing a bit of straw or dry wood, and there's a notable bitterness akin to grapefruit. A warming spice lingers on the medium finish, think cayenne pepper, and paprika. There’s also cigarette ash, lemon juice, almonds, sherry vinegar, dry earth, and gingerbread. The mouthfeel is reasonable. While the peat is less prominent on the palate than the nose it’s still fairly noticeable.

Nose (with water)

With the addition of water, the nose becomes a touch musty, and much of the nuttiness, ash, and bonfire smoke are lost. The Sherry cask influence becomes more apparent, bringing forward notes of raisins and red cola. Savoury notes emerge, including Bovril, beef jerky, mushroom and beef stock, along with reduced figs and roasted chestnuts.

Palate (with water)

With water, the palate becomes quite ashy, losing a lot of the more interesting notes, and becomes more one dimensional overall. There's a noticeable sourness and a vinegar-like quality now, likely from the sherry cask, though the spice has become better balanced. The mouthfeel remains relatively unchanged.

Conclusion

This release may not be groundbreaking, but it serves as a good example of a sherry-finished Caol Ila, offering some interesting aromas and flavours. Just remember it's best enjoyed without water.

Score: 7/10

Value

This is competitively priced in today’s market.


Whisky Broker (Cree) CaoI Ila 12yo cask #318247

Region: Islay

ABV: 52.1%

Price: £78.00

Distilled on 7th October 2010, this whisky was initially matured in a refill bourbon cask until 16th September 2021. It was then re-racked into an Australian Shiraz wine barrique, where it continued to age until 24th March 2023. It was finally bottled with an outturn of 302 bottles.

Nose

On the nose, this whisky offers buttery crumpet and cashew nuts, with a hint of tobacco and surprisingly little smoke. There's no noticeable spice or ethanol, but there are notes of raspberry syrup. Revisiting it brings out aromas of week-old red wine, vinegar, ketchup, and ash.

Palate

The palate offers red fruit, peanuts, TCP, and ash. The mouthfeel is thin, and although the finish is a reasonable length, it is marred by a spicy burst of cinnamon. The ash and smoke fade quickly, and there's a disjointed transition from red wine notes to the flavours we’d personally associate with Caol Ila.

Nose (with water)

With water, the nose reveals prominent mandarin and other citrus fruit notes. Peanuts and cashew nuts persist, along with toast, but there's very little presence of smoke or ash, mostly just a touch of earthiness. Light red fruits linger in the background, complemented by hints of gingerbread.

Palate (with water)

With water, the palate remains similar to its undiluted form, theres now slightly less spice and a more watery texture, and it feels like this is now slightly less disjointed. It’s worth noting this is a fairly timid Caol Ila, and one where we’d personally add water. The nose improves and we’re finding the trade offs on the palate balances each other out.

Conclusion

The cask and spirit do not feel like they married as well as they could have in this case, lacking the characteristic punch of Caol Ila and introducing some unpalatable notes from the cask. While water improves the overall experience, it doesn't compensate enough to warrant purchasing a bottle.

Score: 6/10

Value

Like today’s other review this is competitively priced in today’s market.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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