Caol Ila 13 Year Old Koval Cask Finish (For Northern Whisky Society)

Caol Ila is the big distillery on Islay and we see many releases in the market from various independent bottlers and we love it!

Today’s review is on a Caol Ila 13 Year Old bottling from The Single Cask Ltd. which was bottled for Northern Whisky Society which I’m member of it since it was founded and also helps managing. As a co-admin I of course was involved in the process of selecting and approving this cask but trust me – the notes are accurate and good thing I don’t dish out marks for whiskies.

This Caol Ila was distilled 28.02.2007 and then matured in Bourbon cask for over 12 years before being finished in Koval cask (From Koval Distillery in Chicago, USA) which probably held Rye whisky and then also briefly held Peated Glenturret (Ruadh Maor) before it was used for this Caol Ila finish process. It was eventually bottled on 16.10.2020 and this 100 Liter cask yielded 137 bottles at 55.7%

Caol Ila 13 Year Old For NWS (55.7%, Cask #303472B)

Nose: Sweet peat smoke combined with herbal smoke and wet peat smoke. Also some coastal side with sea breeze, brine, seashore and shells and seafood. Smoked meat, vanilla and honey, green herbs perfume, lemony, velvety and caressing. Continue reading

Ardnamurchan AD/09.20:01

In late 2020, Ardnamurchan distillery had finally released their first legal whisky after a few batches of previews (AD/2016 to AD/2019) and it’s always exciting to have a new distillery reviewed here.

I tasted the two kinds of new make from Ardnamurchan – one peated and one unpeated and liked them very much. Therefor it’s no surprise I was eager to taste their proper whisky and seems like I wasn’t alone as the first batch flew off the shelves and now there’s a new batch AD/01.21:01.

But let’s focus on the first batch, AD/09.20:01. It was distilled in 2014/2015 and was bottled on 22/09/2020, so basically it’s a 5 year old whisky. It’s a 50:50 mix of peated and unpeated spirit matured in bourbon and sherry casks – 65% in Bourbon & 35% in PX & Oloroso Sherry Casks.

Those batches are bottled at 46.8% and their retail price is about £45-£50 (if you manage to get one when they come out that is).

Ardnamurchan AD/09.20:01 (46.8%, 15978 bottles)

Photo: thewhiskyexchange.com

Nose: Oily with the expected honey and vanilla notes of a young whisky, very gentle earthy peat. There’s a very shy side for the sherry casks, with restrained red fruitiness that strengthen over time, also some soursweet berries (raspberry) and more vanilla. Continue reading

Glenmorangie a Tale of Cake (Tokaji Wine Casks Finish)

After 10 years of Private Editions, Glenmorangie are taking a break from the series (maybe even for good) and instead we have this limited edition called “Glenmorangie a Tale of Cake” which in short is a whisky that started like the Glenmorangie 10 Traditional and then took a twist with Tokaji wine casks finish.

Tokaji is a dessert wine style from Hungary (and neighbor Slovakia) and we don’t see many whiskies finished in such casks as it’s considered hard to master and get a good taste profile.

The reasoning behind this whisky was to reflect a cake in a bottle:

Dr Bill, found himself musing over how some of his most joyful memories came from cake — from the pineapple upside down cake his daughter made for his birthday to baking with his Granny in her kitchen.

He devised this whisky to conjure the magic of a cake moment, finishing his favourite Glenmorangie Single Malt in the finest Tokaji dessert wine casks.

Glenmorangie a Tale of Cake (46%, £75)

Photo credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Nose: If the 10yo starts with vanilla, honey and nuts spices, here the nose starts with pears, subtle oak spice, dessert white wine (duh!) which then laces with late coming Glenmorangie classic features of soft honey, vanilla and nuttiness. After a few minutes boom! a bowl of white chocolate, more nuttiness and white pepper. Then some unripe fruits and green melon, ripe pears, sweet grapes and even more honey and spice. Continue reading

Islay Feis Ile Festival 2021 Bottles

feis-logo-new

© The Islay Festival of Music and Malt

Welcome to the 2021 edition of the Feis Ile bottles guide!
Once again, this year the festival goes virtual as the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging around the world and surely no big crowds will be allowed in such public events.
This post will detail all the available information on the festival bottles and will be update each time more details will be revealed.

 

 

Updates:

06/06/2021 – Add Bunnahabhain Surprise Feis Ile 2021 bottle
26/05/2021 – Updated Laphroaig Cairdeas 2021 bottle price and availability date
26/05/2021 – Added Lagavulin and Caol Ila Feis Ile 2021 bottles (H/T Ruben of whiskynotes.be)
19/05/2021 – Added Bruichladdich Feis Ile 2021 bottles
19/05/2021 – Added Jura Feis Ile 2021 bottle
12/05/2021 – Added Bowmore Feis Ile 2021 (or maybe 2020?) bottles
29/04/2021 – Added second Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2021 bottle
27/04/2021 – Added the first Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2021 bottle
20/04/2021 – Added Kilchoman Feis Ile 2021 bottle
21/03/2021 – Added Laphroaig Cairdeas 2021 bottle
28/02/2021 – Added SMWS Caol Ila bottle
08/02/2021 – Initial update with Ardbeg and a few SMWS bottles

So here’s the list of Feis Ile 2020 bottlings and the available information:

Ardnahoe – Open day on Friday 28th May 2021

  • No Feis Ile bottling

Lagavulin – Open day on Saturday 29th May 2021

Continue reading

Bunnahabhain 2002 Madeira Finish Fèis Ìle 2020

After a long hiatus due to COVID-19 mood and because things got busy at work it’s time to resume some whisky writing besides posting some news on the Facebook page.

I was in the midst of writing the second Bunnahabhain Feis Ie 2020 review so let’s complete it and then resume normal bog operation (with the Laphroaig bottling waiting for a future special Laphroaig project).

This Bunnahabhain was the older (and more expensive) botting available before the open day (when the distillery released a third whisky, expensive and super premium). It’s a 17-18 Year old unpeated whisky, finished in Madeira casks.

Bunnahabhain 2002 Madeira Finish Fèis Ìle 2020 (53%, £199, 1164 bottles)

Nose: Oily, sweet pungent, dunnage warehouse, honey and flower petals, milk chocolate, cranberries and peaches, almonds, cookies dough, clearly distinct roses petal, oily did we say? also quite heavy, marzipan. After a while there’s more chocolate, the floral side get stronger, darker honeyed fruits and pastries. There’s depth and complexity here. Continue reading

Bunnahabhain Mòine 2010 Amontillado Finish Fèis Ìle 2020

The Kilchoman Fèis Ìle 2020 festival bottling was good – can we continue this trend with the Bunnahabhain festival bottlings? There were 3 festival bottlings this year, two were announced before the festival and one was released as a surprise during the virtual open day.

The more accessible festival bottle, just like previous years, was a Bunnahabhain Moine. This time it was a 2010 vintage finished in Amontillado sherry casks.

Let’s check it out:

Bunnahabhain Mòine 2010 Amontillado Fèis Ìle 2020 (56.9%, £99, 1658 bottles)

Nose: soft smoke, sweet grapes, fermented grapes, oily, slightly toasted nuts, a bit of salted fish carpaccio, grapes peels (yeah, a lot of grapes related notes), tobacco smoke behind, fresh, dough, cereals, fresh with some sour sweet juice, vanilla, green fruits, artificial canned tropical juice, apricots, whiffs of char and well defined smoke. Continue reading

Kilchoman 12 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020

After getting disappointed from Ardbeg BlaaacK, it’s time to move on to another Fèis Ìle 2020 festival bottling, hoping it will be better and today’s candidate to improve the mood is the Kilchoman bottling.

This year Anthony Wills has selected a few Ex-Bourbon Barrels to be bottled as the festival offering and so we got a Kilchoman 12 Year Old limited edition (2,630 bottles) for the festival.

After a failed first try to sell the bottle online where the website couldn’t cope with the load, it got sold out within 15 minutes on the second try.

Kilchoman 12 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020 (54.2%, £108, 2630 bottles)

Nose: Rich and sweet, smoke and peat, honey, vanilla, rich and pungent. And at first it smells lightly peated instead of a heavy peat bomb. After all it’s a 12 Year Old Kilchoman. Pears and peaches, somewhat unripe tropical fruits and kiwi. After a few minutes of swirling the glass more pronounced and sharper peat smoke. Eventually a bit of honeyed fruits perfume and buttery dough. Really good and enchanting nose. Continue reading

Ardbeg BlaaacK (Ardbeg Day 2020)

The next Fèis Ìle 2020 bottling we review actually doesn’t mention the festival name  on the whisky label or the box. Instead, Ardbeg continue their tradition of only mentioning (and celebrating) their Ardbeg Day event which is traditionally the last day of the festival.

So it’s Ardbeg BlaaacK (for Ardbeg Day 2020) which we check out today. It’s called Blaaack which is a brilliant marketing stroke, celebrating the Committee 20th anniversary and saluting to the Islay sheeps using New Zealand Pinot Noir wine casks (because you know, New Zealand and sheeps…).

The bottle is of course black and the entire box/label design is beautiful. While the committee version was bottled at 50.7%, the Ardbeg Day version was bottled at 46% and was widely available around the festival time.

Ardbeg BlaaacK (Ardbeg Day 2020) (46%, £94)

Photo: whiskyinternationalonline.com

Nose: Sweet red berries, a bowl full of raspberries and gooseberries, gentle peat smoke, vanilla. After a few minutes in the glass more sour-sweet berries and cherries, kelp seaweed, seaside breeze, lemon zest, honeyed fruits and more vanilla and eventually also tobacco and cocoa. Not bad at all and in fact, I find it quite good. Continue reading

Lagavulin 20 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020

Lagavulin is the 2nd Islay distillery owned by Diageo. Yesterday we covered Caol Ila Festival bottlingCaol Ila 16 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020 and today it’s the Lagavulin festival bottling turn.

Last Year we had a 19 Year Old Lagavulin in Sherry Treated casks which was fantastic as the festival bottling and this  year we have a 20 Year Old Lagavulin initially matured in refill casks (ex-bourbon) and then finished in PX and Oloroso treated Hogsheads.

PX finish and Lagavulin? You’re right, we’re already familiar with this concept with the Lagavulin Distillers Edition. But here not all casks were finished in PX and the whisky is older. Let’s check it out.

Lagavulin 20 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020 (54%, 6000 bottles)

Photo credit: whiskybase.com

Nose: Starts with gentle sweet dried fruits. Also getting some vanilla at first but it disappear (or just gets overrun) later on. Berries, purple plums, the expected peat smoke and ashes are here but currently playing 2nd violin. Then suddenly some flickers of Lagavulin DNA fruitiness and peat, raisins and caramel. After 30 minutes here comes the PX with thick syrup, dark chocolate, fruits cake with chocolate topping. And it’s very balanced and in harmony all through that time. Continue reading

Caol Ila 16 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020

Fèis Ìle 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and like many other events and festivals it was moved to an online format. One big aspect of a whisky festival is the festival bottlings and many festivals and distilleries retained their plans for a special bottling. Some replaced the original bottling with a different one like Bruichladdich, some didn’t release a bottling like Bowmore and some took their time to offer a festival bottling like the Diageo Islay based distilleries of Caol Ila and Lagavulin.

We don’t know what were the original plans for the 2020 festival bottling from Caol Ila but eventually it was revealed it’s a 16 Year Old Caol Ila finished in Amoroso sherry casks.

It was initially matured in Refill ex-bourbon casks and then finished in Amoroso treated Hogsheads, all personally selected by Pierrick Guillaume the Distillery manager.

We’ve seen Amaroso finished whisky from Diageo in the form of Talisker Distillers Edition but it’s not too common out there.

Caol Ila 16 Year Old for Fèis Ìle 2020 (53.9%, 3000 bottles, £120)

Nose: Strong and a bit sour vanilla – almost lactic. Sour sweet bright berries. yellow plums and gooseberries, maritime with  gentle smoke, sugared lemon peels, more vanilla, ripe yellow green grapes. After a long time in the glass it becomes sweeter with almonds and nuttiness. Continue reading