...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Single Malt Report: Caol Ila 12 year old 1994 James MacArthur

It's the second of five fantastic Fridays of simultaneous reviews with My Annoying Opinions (Here's the direct link to his review!).  Today's review covers another bottle that he and I split with Florin Industries' brand ambassador, Florin.  Last week it was a full powered Longmorn sherry cask.  This week it is a Caol Ila 12 year old single cask, again from James MacArthur's Old Masters series.

Brief tangent.  I really recommend doing bottle splits with fellow trusted geeks.  There's less financial risk per unit and your collection can expand much quicker, overflowing your cabinets with random small bottles from here and there.  A three-part split on a 750mL bottle results in 8+ ounces each, a four-part goes 6+ ounces each, and a five-part five ounces.

You just have to be okay with forgoing the big tall sexy bottle that you would normally be posting to the Malt Maniacs Facebook page with the same nervous excitement as if you were sexting a nude selfie.

Back to this stuff.  Here's a great opportunity for me to expand my indie Caol Ila experience.  I haven't had any bad CIs yet, so let's see how this James MacArthur version fares.

Distillery: Caol Ila
Independent Bottler: James MacArthur & Co.
Series: Old Masters
Age: 12 years (1994-2006)
Maturation: probably re-fill bourbon barrels
Cask number2103
Region: Islay
Alcohol by Volume: 59.5%
Chillfiltered: No
Colored: Probably not

I promise there will be fewer notes than last week...

The color is of a very pale amber.  Diageo would not approve.  The nose holds A LOT more peat spunk than official CIs.  Green mossy stuff, plastic toys, and wet sand.  Then there are more foodie things like sugar cookies, basil leaves, burnt butterscotch, and smoked carob.  But that beach-moss characteristic looms large.  Smoked seaweed on the palate, and lots of it.  All kinds of moss in the back of the throat.  Graphite and white peppercorns.  Echoes of sweet and earthy molasses.  A mild tartness, some caramel, and two dried apricots.  Smoky and mossy on the finish.  Lemon oil.  Ocean water.  No that's not redundant.  Ever take a wave to the face and swallow some of it?  That's what I'm talking about.  The finish is simple but extensive.

Water brightens the nose up.  Maybe some sugary citrus.  Actually, more water = more lemon and citron.  Some whiffs of barley and a cinnamon stick.  But there's also some seaweed and pencil lead in the mix.  On the palate there's toasted peat and toasted barley.  Horseradish, bitter lettuces, and ground black pepper.  It's somewhat ashy with a lingering minor sourness.  Lots of peat residue in the finish.  The bitter greens and pepper remain.  Some more tartness and maybe a little bit of vanilla.

Due to the very reserved oak, this feels younger than a 12yo.  It's a bit dry and rough, but in a good way.  It's still sort of hanging around my taste buds three hours later.  The nose reminded me a lot of the L7 Ardbeg Ten I have open.  It would be a fun sparring partner for one of the more nude Laphroaig CSes, but because this CI can be a bit on the narrow side it wouldn't win a real fight.

If you like indie refill bourbon cask Ledaigs and/or that K&L Talisker "Speakeasy" then this is probably your whisky jam.  If you prefer your peat mingling with rich oak, I'm not sure if this is for you because this can get a little raw.

Availability - Sparse
Pricing - probably $80-$100
Rating - 86