...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Caol Ila 14 year old 2005 Chieftain's, cask 302361

I've been snooping around online and can find very little about this whisky. It's almost as if all the bottles were bought up and are now collecting dust in everyone's oh-my-god-a-new-thing cabinet. It's a 14 year old single cask Caol Ila that was actually released in America last year. Other than an occasional K&L conquest, this country doesn't get double-digit-aged single cask Caol Ilas on the reg anymore. Thank you, Ian MacLeod, for letting one escape across the Atlantic.

Distillery: Caol Ila
Region: Islay
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Ian McLeod
Range: Chieftain's
Age: 14 years (March 2005 - August 2019)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask #: 302361
Bottles: 218
Alcohol by Volume: 55.9%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a purchased sample)

A flawless nose. Gosh, I miss Caol Ila. Anyway: seaweedy smoke, roasted almonds, Canadian bacon and hot tar. Brown sugar in the middle. Fresh apricots, yellow plums and apple skins in the background. Massive peat in the palate, like CI+. But it's not all peat. Tart apples, sweet apples, fennel, lime juice and horseradish hold steady in the smoke. Silky texture, too. It finishes with an excellent sweet/smoky balance. Then limes, salt, stones and horseradish.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
How is it possible that the nose is peatier and stinkier? It's in the Ledaig/PC/Croftengea zone. Beyond the black smoke lies damp soil, mushrooms, plums and cherries. Bitter herbs and bitter cocoa lead the muscular palate, followed by horseradish and heavy smoke. But just as one starts to stagger from the wallop, sweet oranges rise up to tickle the palate. It finishes with earth, roots, herbs and oranges.

A list of thoughts:

  1. Awesome.
  2. Y'all have been keeping this a secret from the rest of us, haven't you? Y'all.
  3. The Ledaig/PC/Croftengea zone is a good place to be. If this isn't the peatiest Caol Ila I've ever had, it has to be in the top three.
  4. Despite the whisky's youthful character, there are no mezcal notes, which I appreciate. At first it was fun to find mezcal notes in baby peated whiskies, but after the fourth or fifth time that note appeared I found myself just wanting some mezcal rather than underaged scotch.
  5. This whisky's price was silly because of The Tariff, right?
Availability - Scarce
Pricing - $180-$190
Rating - 89

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