Cadenheads 10th Anniversary Sherry Series Caol Ila 11yo & Adelphi Caol Ila 7yo cask #26580


We've got a couple of sherried drams from Caol Ila up for review today.

Cadenheads 10th Anniversary Sherry Series Caol Ila 11yo

Region: Islay

ABV: 52.7%

Price: £20.00 (20cl)

First up today is of a 2012 vintage Caol Ila that was transferred to a Palo Cortado hogshead in April 2022, before being bottled in 2023. A total of 1,059 20cl bottles were made available as part of a three bottle set that celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Cadenhead’s Club.

Nose

The nose is overwhelmed by nuts.. dry roasted peanuts, cashews, a touch of chip shop malt vinegar, along with freshly cooked chips. It’s earthy and dirty, with more of an ashy smoke style appearing. We’re also getting dried kelp, light caramel, pickle brine, and a bit of vanilla likely from the original bourbon cask. Time and air brings aniseed, liquorice and fudge. While the palo cortado cask has added an interesting dimension, it’s no doubt a classic Caol Ila nose.

Palate

The palate has more of those upfront nuts, along with tobacco, ash, lemon juice.. just really dirty Caol Ila. There’s some spice, not too intense and there’s some good alcohol integration too. The mouthfeel is perhaps a touch thin, but we may be being a bit picky. Overall the dominant notes are dry roasted nuts, supported by some star anise, kippers and a dash of salt water. The finish lingers for a decent while, showing some dry oak, lemon icing and rice paper.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose is more acidic, think sour patch kids, synthetic sugar, lime cordial, along with the earthy, dirtiness (although this has been tamed a bit by the water). We’re now finding there’s more TCP, antiseptic and medicinal qualities appearing, with those nutty notes we found before being pushed into the background.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate has more of a peanut and toffee brittle flavour, Mr. Tom bars, candied ginger, but more spice appearing too.. very warming. The mouthfeel takes a disappointing hit, it’s really lost something there, but the finish remains fairly consistent. There’s still lots of ashy peat to keep the peat fiends happy.

Conclusion

We came into this expecting a lot more sherry, but there’s really not too much to be found. The sherry that we have found has added some interesting mellow flavours and aromas without overpowering the base spirit. Pleasant to nose and drink, but the mouthfeel lets us down somewhat.

Score: 7/10

Value

You have to buy this as part of a set of three 'Sherry Monsters'; at £60 for three 20cl bottles, it offers good value.


Adelphi Caol Ila 7yo cask #26580

Region: Islay

ABV: 58.5%

Price: £75.00

This release was distilled in 2016, and has spent 7 years maturing in a first-fill oloroso sherry hogshead. It was bottled by Adelphi in 2023, in an outturn of 256 bottles.

Nose

The nose brings forth ginger ale, engine oil, salted pistachios, buttery pastry, alongside a heavy lime aroma.. more fresh lime juice as opposed to zest or cordial. There’s a lack of smoke here, we expected a much bigger punch of peat, especially at the age. The smoke we’re finding is more akin to burnt pastry.. burnt apple strudel perhaps? It’s also musty, with some barley sugars and cereal aromas.

Palate

The palate opens with heavy liquorice, it’s really the dominant flavour. It’s watery, with some cinnamon and nutmeg spice appearing as the palate develops. We’re not finding much smoke at all, perhaps a touch of ash in the background. We’re also finding distilled vinegar, new make spirit, lemon juice.. maybe lemon cleaning fluid instead. The finish doesn’t stick around either, the initial flavours die quite quickly and you’re left with the spice.. cinnamon, pepper and cardamom.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose accentuates the new-make spirit character of the dram. Musty.. wet clothes that have been left in the washing machine, and sour apple chewits. There’s still some pistachio here, but the peat is still non-existent. We’re getting a little white pepper along with the faintest hint of ash.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate continues with the dominant liquorice theme, it’s… not great. We’re also getting grapefruit, melon and more new-make spirit. No peat in sight, poor mouthfeel and raw alcohol on the finish.

Conclusion

We don’t usually comment on colour, but this is very pale for 1st fill oloroso. Right.. what’s happened? We’re not getting any Caol Ila characteristics, especially for a 7yo first fill oloroso. It feels like this was matured in a steel vat. It’s a bit thin and we’re not finding the flavours or aromas particularly pleasant. You could fool anyone with this dram, we don’t believe anyone would pick this out as a young Caol Ila.

Score: 4/10

Value

A little pricey for a 7yo release, but you do pay a premium for Islay whisky.

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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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