Back over to Islay today with two independently bottled Caol Ilas. Caol Ila is by far the most available independently bottled Islay malt and we generally find it to pretty good in most cases, so let's see what these two bottlings bring to the table.
Red Cask Co. Caol Ila Cask #312835
The Red Cask Co. are a sister brand of Concept 8 and Auld Goonsy’s Malt. This new brand seems to be focused exclusively on sherry cask maturation. This release is being advertised on the websites that still have it in stock as full maturation, but according to the RCC website it’s a finish.
Initially the sherry influences pull through as raisins and prunes. We’re then hit by some warm buttery notes, seaweed, bandages and a faint hint of smoke. There’s some sweet vanilla notes here as well, as if someone is toasting s’mores on the bonfire. There’s also a slight meatiness here like bacon that’s just been chucked in a frying pan.
We’re getting a lot more smoke on the palate than on the nose, but the sweet notes here such as vanilla, and honey soaked raisins nicely balance this out. There’s also some prunes and a little tar here. This has a long finish with warm spicy chilli notes lingering along with the smoke. One small critique is that it’s a touch hot.
Nose (with water)
On the reduced nose the sherry cask influence becomes much more noticeable. We’re getting cardamon, cinnamon, and sweet gooey caramel sauce. The faint smoke we we’re getting without water is even harder to identify now.
Palate (with water)
On the reduced palate the sweeter notes such as honey and raisins have come to the fore. Some the chilli / spice of the finish has been dampened, but it’s still a touch too hot for us. There’s a little more sweetness and a touch of lime on the finish, with the smoke now showing as ash.
This is our first time trying a Red Cask Co release and we must admit they are off to a good start. £90 is a little expensive for an 11yo Caol Ila, but it’s a pretty tasty dram and because of that we’re willing to give this a 7.5/10
Auld Goonsy’s Caol Ila Cask #311698
This release spent 11 years in a first fill bourbon hogshead.
We’re not getting much on the nose here, we're finding it very restrained. There’s some light smoke, caramelised sugar, and toffee. Giving it some time and air and we can also pick out some vanilla icing sugar and a touch of petrol. We’re giving up on this and moving on to the palate.
While the nose was very restrained the palate is very obviously a bourbon matured Caol Ila. Pleasant, sweet sugar syrup taste with smokey/brininess easily identifiable as Caol Ila. One critique is it does taste watered down and we would have thought it was less than 55% as it lacks the punch we’d expect from the spirit. There’s also a slight burnt note at the end.
Nose (with water)
Water brings out a mustiness along with some more smoke, and by that we mean it’s like we’ve just set the room on fire. Water has definitely opened up the nose and we’re also getting more savoury notes from the nose along with a touch of citrus and almonds.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate is wildly different from the nose the smoke has been dampened and now the spicy notes pulling through to the forefront. We’re getting lots of cinnamon, jalapeños and black pepper. There's too much heat with water for us. There’s a touch of sugar syrup on the finish.
We can’t really say anything bad about this dram that is assuming you don’t add water. It would have been nice if the nose was slightly less tight, but the palate is nice and the sweeter notes are balanced well with the smoke. Saying that we’ve had better examples of Caol Ila before, and because of that we’re giving this a 7/10.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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