Make it a Moscatel: 2011 Caol Ila Distillers Edition

As a preface, I’ve started reviewing whisky while listening to music on some good headphones, and I’m liking what it’s adding.

Music: Genesis, “Blood on the Rooftops”

Whiskies like the Caol Ila DE are examples of purchases I would never make on my own. At $100 a bottle for a 12yo+ @ 43% ABV, I’m not going to waste my shoestring budget on such an experiment, unless reviews tell me it’s the greatest thing since Lagavulin’s 16yo.  I received this whisky, instead, as a gift. As a gift, it’s a lovely whisky, and a step up (as one would hope) from the standard 12yo bottling. Not as good as the natural cask strength NAS, though.

Nose: A rare chance to summarize all the key notes in one go: buttered raisin toast. The sweetness of the moscatel turns the citrusy hickory smoke of the standard 12yo into BBQ sauce. White pepper. A little olive oil. Bubblegum and tobacco notes sit as a nice base.

Palate: Medium oily. Smooth, peaty citrus. Here is where the standard bottling comes in, but just a hair more mature. Salty, smoky over sour red grapes.

Finish: The peat is what sticks around. It sours a little bit, and then gets rather dry and peppery.

Grade: B+

I really wanted to like this much more than the standard bottling, but it’s just a tad better. In the end, the moscatel cask is interesting, and the nose superb, but the palate blows up into something sour, and that sort of lingers. It’s not bad, but we’ve got to split hairs somewhere, and this blog is supposed to do just that. Verdict: a novelty, worth picking up a small sample in a trade, but not a bottle at $100.

“Seems Helen of Troy has found a new face… again.”

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With Apologies to Glenfarclas: Glenfarclas 15yo, Revisted

Glenfarclas 15yo is a reason (if not the reason,) to take data seriously. Having read so many glowing reviews of the Glenfarclas 15, I tried it in a bar in hopes of being won-over, as so many others had been before me. Instead, it came across as a spectacular nose, but a let-down everywhere else. A B-, really.

A bar tasting isn’t always enough, though. Given the chance to buy a bottle on the (somewhat) cheap in Montreal, I took it, and haven’t regretted it.

Nose: The old review carries. Cookies. Butterscotch, cinnamon, orange peel and cherry. A real basket of great, sweet flavours. Smooth. Smells older than 15.

Palate: Sherry, chocolate and butterscotch. Rich, like a fresh cookie. Nowhere near as spiritous as the first time I tried it.

Finish: Sweetness, sherry, chocolate and some light smoke  and tobacco on the finish. A real rich dram.

Grade: B+

A really strong showing from this dram when you own a whole bottle. The maturity makes up for the 46% ABV (nothing to sneeze at, but weaker compared to the ‘105’) and makes it just as flavourful as the 10 year ‘105’, but without all the prickly boom of 60% ABV.