Whisky Review: Cadenhead Single Cask Caol Ila 1983 Aged 33 Years

Style: Fruity, Slight Smoky and Complex

Nose:
Beautiful honey marches in together with fresh green lime slices, while peat smoke is carefully infused into the aroma. Oh my god, this is incredible. Fragrance and oiliness at perfect balance, very vibrant as well. Chalks, more lemon, probably in the form confectionaries, grapefruits, pineapple and even a tiny bit of jackfruit, quite tropical. Pine and grass undertone, subtle smoke lurking beneath the surface as well. Mussels and grilled asparagus hiding very deep. Spicy notes picking up towards the end, very nice.

Palate:
Lemon citrus and stewed tropical fruits leading at the front, lime cordial drizzling on sage and Brazilian steak. Peat smoke humming softly, yuzu combines with rosemary flowers and malt biscuits to form a beautiful secondary layer. Acrylic and chalky notes resonating at the background, taro, dying coal ambers and wood wool sitting at the back. Barley surfaces towards the end.

Finish:
Lime and grapefruit pie, subtle smoke subside even further. Just a touch of lemon vera to finish.

Thoughts:
A clear crowd favourite in my 80s Caol Ila tasting and rightly so. This Cadenhead is surprisingly vibrant, and its complexity stretches beyond one’s imagination. Not only flavour-wise, but also the combination of its parameters – the fruitiness, flavour palette, oiliness, vibrancy, layers and maturation is very complete and highly sophisticated. One of the most complex Caol Ilas I have tried to date. For me, it is only one magical touch away to reach three stars. Top dram.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[50.2% / Independent Bottling / 1983 Distilled / 2017 Bottled / 198 Bottles / Cask Strength / Single Cask / Non-Chill Filtered / Non-Coloured / **+]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Signatory Vintage Caol Ila 1983 Aged 32 Years


Style: Delicate, Sweet and Smoky

Nose:
Caol Ila in the calmest form – peat smoke, tropical fruits syrup and cereal interweave silkily with finesse and composure. Spearmint shoots through with minimal burn. Crayons, brine, white flowers and pulled pork rumbling beneath the surface, mineral notes, aloe vera and lemon tea teasing at the back. Finish with a pinch of chilli spice. Elegant.

Palate:
Lemon aloe vera overflowing on the interwoven layer of peat, stewed tropical fruits and cereal malt. Absolutely delicious. Peppermint humming merrily, vanilla cream and yuzu jam going under. Flint stone and smoked ham forming a beautiful base. A soft acrylic overtone, malt going dry towards the end. Gentle, neat and tidy. Excellent.

Finish:
Smoked lemon tea, citrus confectionaries and thick-cut ham. The flavours are slowly mellowing down with some extra bubbly chocolate cream.

Thoughts:
Interestingly, this wasn’t rated very highly in my 80s Caol Ila tasting I held a while ago. But when this bottle is assessed individually and has my full attention now, all the nuances, twists and turns manifested beautifully in front of me like a landscape oil painting and it is pretty magnificent. Then I realised – it is not that this Caol Ila isn’t great, but the others in the lineup are even better. But for now, I am pretty happy with this one.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[49.3% Independent Bottling 1983 Distilled 2016 Bottled Hogshead Cask Number: 5292 Bottle Number: 91 of 249 Non-Chill Filtered Cask Strength Non Coloured **-]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Lagavulin Aged 12 Years Diageo Special Release 2019

Style: Sweet and Smoky

Nose:
Ah, welcome back old friend, we meet again. Robust smoky sweetness – Cloudy lemonade, squid ink, brimstone, liquorice roots, kelp and ambers. Nothing unfamiliar, but really good. Dried chilli carrying tremendous energy, orange citrus oil injected into a tropical fruits shell. Burnt wood remaining in the bonfire pit beside the beach. So powerful yet so comfortable, pure Lagavulin goodness.

Palate:
Liquid smoke marches in with beautiful citrus sweetness. Glazed orange and lemon bar hyper-charged with chilli spice. Chocolate éclair, smoked ham, beef stock and dark liquorice forming a nice underlayer. Malt syrup trickling down onto faint toffee. Iodine drops paddling back, steamed malted barley echoing so nicely from the bottom. Finishes with hints of kelp and coffee grounds.

Finish:
Barley soaking in a bowl of mocha, smoked tea and kombu candy. Another dash of pink lemonade, chocolate lightly drizzling onto charcoal to finish.

Thoughts:
Lagavulin 12 years old has been the staple whisky in the annual special release and rightfully so. Another majestic performance from this expression – robust, lively, smoky and deliciously sweet in perfect synchronization to form a complete expression. Ladies and gentlemen, this is young, modern Lagavulin at its peak. Maybe there is minimal roughness that can be polished off, but we should not be too picky, should we?

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[56.5% | Original Bottling | Limited Edition | Natural Cask Strength | **+]

Esmond