Dram Review: Caol Ila Aged 12 Years (Bulloch Lade & Co. Ltd Bottling Imported by Zenith Italia and Bonfanti)

[43.0%・12 Years Old・Bottled Circa 1980s・Bulloch Lade & Co. Ltd Bottling Imported by Zenith Italia and Bonfanti・Limited Release]

Nose:

A faint delicate smoke resting on perfume-y red apples with just a touch of thinner in a good nature sort of manner. There is a stunning floral presence with custard and caramel gelling with brine and capers.

Palate & Finish:

Vibrantly burst of Japanese white peach juice followed by toffee sauce, wood smoke and soft tar, feels a touch chalky with a smoked umami note arriving later on.

Smoked wood, slightly charred sugar and a rustic saltiness from the sea.

Thoughts:

Vintage inspired white fruits turn oceanic, the striped down and bare wood smoke is like going to Firedoor for the first time experiencing food prepared instinctively over fire. There is a sense of purity in the subtleties.

[Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Laphroaig Càirdeas Master Edition (2010 Edition)

[57.3%・11 Years Old・Bottled in 2010 ・ Official Bottling・Limited Release of 5,000 Bottles]

Nose:

Peat, mud, sultana and soft pears, medicinal with mandarins and other dried fruits.

Palate & Finish:

Crisp barley sweetness with bubble gum and a burst of honey before a mid-palate of oily petrol and dried fruits takes over.

In the finish, seaweed, dried fruits and some nutmeg spices.

Thoughts:

A much more balanced Càirdeas that is entirely modern but gives a much sweeter than expected hit.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Laphroaig Càirdeas (2008 Edition)

[55.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2008 ・ Official Bottling・Limited Release of 3,600 Bottles]

Nose:

Seaweed and rock salt rubbed bacon under a heavy smoke with wee notes of limes and twigs.

Palate & Finish:

Jammy but fiery, peat, smoke and spices initially blanketing over the subtler notes of vanilla, oak and tropical fruits before a gradual return to a sweeter touch.

An earthy finish with dried Chinese herbs, salt flakes and chocolate dust, hints of sweetness and saltiness to go with the bitter tail.

Thoughts:

Pretty brutal but in a watching a front rower making a line break kind of way.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Laphroaig Unblended 15 Years Old

[43.0%・15 Years Old・Bottles Circa 1985 ・Official Bottling Imported by Larios Malaga・General Release]

Nose:

Soft white fruits with a fine brush of peat and a subtle seasoning of sea salt. Endearingly rewarding as the softness of white peaches and pineapples harmoniously vibes with the warming sensations of beachside seaweed and some diesel smoke.

Palate & Finish:

The gentle tarry note synchronises elegantly with the fruits, wonderfully constructed with honey and caramel drizzling on apples and pears as the peat slowly sips out.

Dried but rewarding, a long tail of summery tropical fruits lingering on with tarry peat.

Thoughts:

Brilliantly constructed, I could simply use a few profanities in lieu of saying that the era-specific terroir, that extra years of maturation and the body at that strength have all come together for this dram.

☆ ☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Moon Import Caol Ila The Sails in the Wind

[46.0%・Distilled in 1977・Bottled in 1993・ Moon Import Bottling・Cask No. 4659 & 4660 ・ Limited Release]

Nose:

Starts off with a herbal setting but with quite a sweet layer of cotton candy, well balanced with the sooty presence that opens up to notes of lemon, menthol and whisky crumble and later on fruits and soft nougat.

Palate & Finish:

A brilliant flow of honey, nougat and yellow fruits sailing through a mellow cloud of ashy smoke. The combination of malt, fruits and smoke is just sublime.

Lingering, creamy smoke silkily coasts through shades of red apples and oak.

Thoughts:

I never knew a Caol Ila from the 70s could be so astoundingly fruity.

A beautiful dram from nose to finish, so I suppose this would be the proper daily dram ey..

☆ ☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Thompson Bro’s Caol Ila 2008 Vintage Aged 10 Years

[51.0%・10 Years Old・Distilled in 2008・Thompson Bro’s Bottling・Limited Release of 338 Bottles]

Nose:

Wood fire smoked kippers, clean petrol and iodine.

Palate & Finish:

Flowing honey, with orchard fruits and an ashy, mouthwatering punch of smoke.

Sweet and swift with traces of peat smoke dispersing.

Thoughts:

An easy-going young Islay, good fun for a casual session.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila Distilled 1980 Imported by Giuseppe Meregalli

[40.0%・Years Old・Distilled in 1980・Bottled in 1993・Gordon & MacPhail Bottling Imported by Giuseppe Meregalli・Limited Release]

Nose:

Filled with seaweed and sweet peat, minerals and some floral notes hanging about followed by a salty broth with smoked candied bacon flakes, the smoke just gets dirtier and dirtier in time.

Palate & Finish:

That Sherry burst is radiant, raisins and smoke just sticking to the palate, exceptional at first but grows a bit thin with the minerals coming about.

A dusty aftertaste of cigarette smoke and earthy tones that get smokier until the English lollies arrive at which point it fades to a sweeter side.

Thoughts:

A really pleasing build up which I like about an early 80s Caol Ila, but just lacking a captivating follow through that would have turned it into a gem..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Lagavulin Bottled Exclusively to Celebrate Feis Ile 2008 Distilled in 1993


[52.9%・Distilled in 1993・Bottled in 2008・Official Bottling・Cask No. 1403・ Single Cask Release]

Nose:

Endearingly rounded, gently Sherried and with an elegant sea breeze following through. This is this certain creamy tone with a soft umami touch.

Palate & Finish:

Delicious and gooey, immensely creamy for a Lagavulin with red fruits infused to the dense red tea before the earthier wave arrives.

Leather and chocolate powder with an oaky brush of herbs to even things out.

Thoughts:

Would love a bottle of this to help with the cabin fever.. makes for a perfectly cosy few days.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Kingsbury Islay Bowmore 1966

[43.7%・Distilled in 1966・ 35 Years Old・Kingsbury Bottling・Cask No. 3300 ・ Single Cask Release of 300 Bottles]

Nose:

A first impression that makes one just cusses a little in awe.. a wondrous and pure bouquet of splendidly refreshing pear and mint gelato finely drizzled with elderflower syrup and served with slices of soft white peaches; silkily soothing, and immensely pleasing with the excessiveness of various fruits, and later on the natural spirit aromas arrive with hints of tree gum and banana jam. An indescribable revelation really..

Palate & Finish:

An extravagance of waves and waves of sublime fruits seasoned with fine white sugar; refreshing green fruits, watermelon sugar, caramelised banana and sweet pineapple chutney, with just a touch of herbs bringing in subtle signs of ageing in the forms of oak and nutmeg along with plenty of dried fruits and nuts.

Beautiful, lasting fruits in the finish, vanilla sugar, mint jelly, brushes of wax perhaps with some fresh Italian herbs.

Thoughts:

There have been some recent controversies associated with this dram, namely whether it should be scored 93 or 95 or 98 etc. etc., a philosophical exercise bordering on trivial if I were to be completely candid for a dram of this caliber and this dram really does deserve better as one of the most brilliant expressions from the greatest era of the distillery in my humble opinion, one of the most enjoyable amongst the “three starred” whiskies I have rated..

It is fortunate that I am not obligated to publicise a definitive scoring of this dram, I am just grateful to have tasted this dram and I can unreservedly recommend this as one of the most marvellous whiskies I have come across to date, essentially otherworldly and really this is why we love whiskies in the first place.

☆☆☆ [Most Recommended]

Thank you Emmanuel for facilitating this dramming experience..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Bowmore Aged 37 Years

[41.5%・Distilled in 1968・Bottled in 2006・ 37 Years Old・Duncan Taylor Bottling・Cask No. 3823・Single Cask Release of 158 Bottles] 

Nose:

Ahhhh, beautiful. Full of tropical fruit nectar with a delicate touch of ashy peat, peaches, strawberries and icing sugar embodied in a fine layer of smoked applewood chips as the more dignified aromas of oak from Shinto shrines set in.

Palate & Finish:

A slightly citrus touch brings along an unexpected vibrant liveliness despite the advanced age. A lovely floral presence surrounded by French vanilla and lychees with fine flowing honey and white peaches providing this somewhat stimulating sweetness complimented by very fine peat. Dried fruits and nuts arriving later on to settle things a little.

Gratifying, as the oak evens out the luscious fruits to create a perfect crispness.

Thoughts:

A celebration of the vibrant bouquet fruits made famous via a few 1960s Bowmore bottlings.

To me this is near perfect, and on a summer evening, it sounds just like a song..

☆☆☆ [Most Recommended]

-Nicholas