When a whisky is matured in 1st Fill Sherry Butts, you’d think it will sport dark color and big sherry notes in the whisky, but that’s not always the case because there are different kinds of sherry and different kind of casks.
Take for example this Caol Ila 2005 11 Year old from Gordon & Macphail. A vatting of 4 casks (Casks 301521, 301523, 301524 & 301527) that were all distilled on February 2005, lay asleep for a long time and then married together and bottled Last July. You wouldn’t think it’s a whisky matured in first fill sherry casks.
Nose: Classic Caol Ila peat smoke, red apples, lemon, smoke and saltiness, malt cereals, cream, cured meat and after a while some fruity fragrance. It’s a mellow nose and not a very complex one but it has structure and backbone. With a few drops of water it’s fruitier with more honey, a touch of pineapple, extra vanilla and pears, richer and stronger.
Palate: Peat smoke, very clean, cured meat, smoke and BBQ sauce, vanilla and honey, red fruit with a dash of salt. With water it’s lighter and fruitier but also a bit more vanilla.
Finish: Long finish, mellow, lingering Caol Ila peat smoke, traces of lemon and honeyed fruits sweetness.
Thoughts: Simple and clean with surprisingly very light sherry impact from the casks. The casks acted as a balancing agent for the peated spirit and made it an easy drinking dram at cask strength, although a drop or two of water (and no more!) would go well here to release extra fruitiness. As long as you don’t expect a sherry bomb (or stronger sherry impact from first fill sherry casks) and you like Islay whiskies, it’s a good bargain and a great session whisky.
(Official sample from G&M)