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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Caol Ila 20 year old 1995 Signatory, cask 445 for K&L

The 18yo Caol Ila I reviewed on Monday was plum lovely. Today's Caol Ila spent two more years in a refill hoggie, in a different warehouse, for a different company. Thus it's likely that this whisky will be at least somewhat different in style than the 18yo. I've found Signatory's single casks much more reliable than SMWS's, so expectations are high-ish.
photo from K&L's site
I have no idea where my sample pic is
Distillery: Caol Ila
Owner: Diageo
Region: Islay
Independent Bottler: Signatory
Exclusive to: K&L Wine Merchants
Age: 20 years (24 January 1995 - 30 September 2015)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Cask#: 445
Alcohol by Volume: 54.4%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(via a sample swap with Florin. Thanks, Florin!)

Quite a style on the nose. Pineapple and lime juice meets cucumber skins, fennel and dried leafy peat. Smaller notes of Band Aids, wet sheep, dried cherries and vanilla in the background. The palate is very herbal: dried thyme, oregano and rosemary. Black pepper, burlap and bitter melon rind. Plenty of raw heat. Herbs, bitter cocoa, bitter smoke and heat in the finish.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Cucumber skins, bitter greens, lemon zest and peppercorns on the nose. The palate remains similar to the neat version. More limes and lemons. Sootier smoke. Slightly sweeter. The finish is bitter, sweet and salty, with a little more peat in the smoke.

While it often tilts toward Herbal Bomb territory, this Caol Ila's fruit and smoke lend it some complexity. Of all the elements, the nose delivers the most entertainment. There's a roughness to the palate that may be due to an iffy cask. Water helps that part out a little bit, but it lessens the nose's impact. I do seem to like it more than Jordan, Florin and MAO, who all found more oak in it than I. Still, I agree with them that the whisky falls far short of its swollen price tag. Also, mark the calendar: SMWS beats Signatory in this match!

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $149.99
Rating - 85

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