...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Caol Ila 28 year old 1990 Whisky Nerds, cask 13129

The Whisky Nerds bottling outfit seems to be well loved in European anorak circles. Maybe it's because the company is run by former geeks, maybe it's the romanticism of "Nerd" status, or maybe they pick good casks. I'm not sure if any that really explains why this release is $500-$600 per bottle. That's halfway to Port Ellen territory. Folks really took all those "Forget Port Ellen, we have Caol Ila!" blog articles to heart. Unlike the rest of the Nerds bottlings, this bottle has not sold out, in fact I've seen it on sale, so perhaps a (temporary) price ceiling has been found?

Normally I save my pricing complaints for a review's conclusion, but I couldn't come up with a different introduction in time.

Distillery: Caol Ila
Region: Islay
Independent Bottler: Whisky Nerds
Age: 28 years old (30 Nov 1990 - 11 Feb 2019)
Maturation: refill Oloroso sherry hogshead
Cask #: 13129
Outturn: 192 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
(from a bottle split)

It's not a subtle cask, but the spirit's will is strong. The nose leads with roasted nuts, cinnamon syrup, manure and smoked salmon. A mix of candy canes and coal smoke in the background. Meanwhile, the palate registers more complexity than the nose. Milk chocolate, lemons and tangy oranges. Jalapeños, wood smoke, aged Parmesan and black walnuts. It gets sweeter with time but also holds onto those peppery and savory notes. It finishes sweet and peppery with some savory dried herbs, then almond extract, wood smoke and pickles.

This Caol Ila was bottled right in my preferred ABV range (46-50) so I didn't add water, sorry. I enjoyed the savory notes, but also wished the nose's smoked salmon and manure notes showed up as well. The cask refused to hush up with all the nuts, chocolate and sweetness though luckily it never took over. I'm nitpicking here, really. This is a very good, fully satisfying whisky which would not disappoint anyone who didn't see the price tag, but it got knocked on its ass by the Caol Ila I'm reviewing on Wednesday...

Availability - A flock of specialty retailers in continental Europe
Pricing - €450-€550
Rating - 88