Woodrow Caol Ila 14yo Cask #317310 & Woodrow Williamson 10yo


A new independent bottler on our radar, Woodrow's of Edinburgh, brings us two Islay releases for our final reviews of the week. 

Woodrow Caol Ila Cask #317310

Region: Islay

ABV: 57.1%

Price: £99.00

This 14 year old Caol Ila spent its entire maturation period in a single refill PX hogshead. 252 bottles were released at cask strength, with no artificial colouring or chill filtration.

Nose

Initially we’re getting TCP, tar, marshmallows and chocolate. Giving it some time in the glass and more of the sherry starts to appear in the form of prunes, nutmeg, and charred meats such as bacon. Alongside those notes we’re getting custard, dirt, Arbroath smokies that are still hanging in the smokehouse, salt, brine, star anise, and melted butter. It’s a promising nose.

Palate

The palate is smokey but not intensely so. It’s like we’re chewing on ash residue. There’s also a bitterness from grapefruit, and along with it chocolate, and salted meats. There's also some cracked black pepper and chilli spice on a medium length finish. The mouthfeel is thin and as we go back to it we notice there’s something synthetic about the sweetness. It’s disappointing that the palate doesn’t match the promise of the nose, and we’d have thought this was a finish as we’re not getting heaps of flavours from the sherry cask.

Nose (with water)

There’s a little more ethanol when we nose this now, but it doesn’t ruin the nose. Alongside it we’re getting ketchup, caramel sauce and marshmallows. It’s slightly less smokey now, but the nose has held up to a few drops of water. no smoke or dirt just artificial sweeteners.

Palate (with water)

Now the palate is all Christmas spices, ash and hazelnuts / walnuts, with bitter dark chocolate on the finish. Sadly the mouthfeel remains disappointing. It’s still fairly ashy. It feels a little more simplistic with water, but even so we’re enjoying it more.

Conclusion

It’s got a great nose, but unfortunately there’s a few flaws with the palate that lets it down. It’s also on the expensive side at around £100. All things considered we’re going to go with a 7/10.

Score: 7/10


Woodrow Williamson 10yo

Region: Islay

ABV: 58.3%

Price: £110.00

This release was distilled 24th April 2012 and bottled 7th October 2022. It’s was matured initially in a bourbon barrel before being finished for thirteen months in 1st Fill PX Cask. 289 bottles were released again at cask strength, with no artificial colouring or chill filtration.

Nose

We’re getting chestnuts, star anise, cola cubes, and ash. Going back to it reveals tar, and melted butter on toast, white pepper, and charred wood. We’re only getting light peat from this. It’s very restrained for a Laphroaig, but like the Caol Ila the nose does show some promise.

Palate

We’re immediately hit by chilli and cardamom. Pushing past this there’s cherry cola, and a touch of sourness that reminds us of Extreme Chewits. There’s white pepper spice and iodine on a reasonable length finish. Going back to it and we’re getting vanilla pods, ethanol and a touch of lime juice. It’s got a better mouthfeel than the Caol Ila, but it’s still a touch disappointing. Not terrible just a little dull.

Nose (with water)

There’s a little more smoke diluted with burnt wood, and tobacco dominating. It’s also developed a beefiness along with hints of tar and butter. there’s more sweetness now in the form of salted caramel fudge. The nose remain good even when diluted.

Palate (with water)

The bitterness intensifies with water. It’s also still fairly alcoholic. More ash, burnt wood, sugar cubes and caramel. The sourness has also intensified. The alcohol bite has been tamed, but the mouthfeel has becoming a touch thin.

Conclusion

It's worth noting there’s nothing about this dram that screams Laphroaig, and at £110 it again feels expensive in comparison with other drams you can get. The bitter, sour, spice notes aren’t particularly pleasant and there's not enough smoke / sweetness / other interesting notes to help mask these.

Score: 6/10

  • 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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