What with it being #WorldWhiskyDay on Saturday, we wanted to make sure that we had something special to mark the day with. After having an absolutely sensational Caol Ila at the Bristol Whisky Festival, we wanted chance to drink deeply from that particular well again. So, as we passed a wine and spirits shop on Friday, we popped in to see what was inside and found this little number nestled on the shelf. The shop, by the way, was Smiths Independent wine shop in Exeter. You can find out more information about the shop here: Smith’s Wines
The dram that we selected was a cask strength offering from Gordon and Macphail. For those of you unfamiliar with this company, they are a very well established and long running independent bottler. This means that they take new make spirit from distilleries all around Scotland and cask it in their own oak barrels, which they either leave on site or in their central warehouses. This particular spirit is bottled at cask strength, which means that it is uncoloured, unfiltered and undiluted, so it has a high alcohol content. The bottle we drank was the 2004, which has an ABV of 60.1%
Appearance: Aging pine, weathered by wind and water.
Aroma: On the nose, this is a shy and retiring dram. It keeps its secrets hidden, revealing only sherry notes and vanilla.
Flavour: Intially syrupy, light and floral. This must be what the fields of Islay are like when warm winds blow across them, bringing salt from the sea to mingle with pollen from the flowers. There is fruit, as pineapple and banana mingle together.
Then charcoal smoke breaks the calm of sweetness, bringing spice and heat of aniseed. These flavour notes sit on the tongue. This heat sits and burns brightly. It is strong, powerful, yet somehow muted.
This heat opens, leaving a very familar mix of copper, of peat smoke and of buttery toffee. There is a greenness of leaves, an accridness of smoke and the fruit of sherry.
Mouthfeel: Strong, full flavoured yet restrained. Chewy.
Overall: This is not entirely what I expected. In some ways it is like standard Caol Ila, but one that has been compressed, shrunk and concentrated. Only on pouring does it begin to reveal again what lies within. This is a dram that needs time. It takes time to open, time to drink and time to reveal itself.
Real Dram Factor: 8.3
More Information: Gordon and MacPhail
Purchased: Smith’s Winery
Buy Online: Master of Malt