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Singlemalting #244 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 20 – Caol Ila 7 Year Old

Welcome to day 20. Right into the heart of the Christmas season we bring together for the first time a combination of first fill Oloroso and Caol Ila Single Malt. For any of you that have done some of the past editions you would have tried several delicious Caol Ila casks from Secret Spirits and other independents. In 6 years of searching I had never been able to access this combination until now. The first time we had a Caol Ila was way back in our 2nd edition from A.D. Rattray. The 4th edition held the first single cask of Caol Ila from Secret Spirits. It went down so well we found another one for the 5th edition from Secret Spirits that became known as Smoldering Secrets. This is now the 4th time we have showcased a single barrel from this distillery and they have all been quite unique.

Caol Ila Distillery

Caol Ila is owned by industry giant Diageo and makes up the backbone of their peaty needs for the Johnnie Walker range. Founded in 1846 it has changed hands many times and seen some closures including during the second World War when due to barley shortages most distilleries ceased operations. Caol Ila is taken from the Gaelic Caol Ìle for “sound of Islay” refering to the location of the distillery overlooking the strait between Islay and Jura. Caol Ila makes more whisky than all of the other distilleries on Islay combined.

Secret Spirits Caol Ila Single Malt 7 Year Old – Islay – 1st Fill Oloroso # 1710 – 55.5% abv

Colour:        Polished teak.

Nose:           Christmas glazed smoked bone in ham. There is salt, something dark and tropical like pineapple reduction. Drunken cranberries. Medicine chest, pork crackling, olive tapenade and fig jam.

Palate:         Yep this is awesome and spot on with the 55.5%. Still plenty of room to play for most of you but I’m loving it just as it is. Fruits of the forest like damp blackberries still clinging to the dank musty ground. The Christmas ham is there too with a healthy dose of caramelization after the whole thing is doused in whisky and set alight. Medicinal still and very palate coating. So many layers to explore here. I’m looking forward to seeing how our Youtubers go with the water they will add.

Finish:          Christmas spices peek through at the finish with nutmeg and cinnamon, chives and sour cherry.

For some the dark and dangerous side of Islay is best served after some years in a sherry cask. This is a great example of a mere 7 years in Oloroso having such an incredible impact and giving us a whisky ahead of it’s time.

For day 20 in our 5th edition we had the Stones of Stenness (Highland Park) 18 year old from Single Cask Nation.

Shame on you if you have not as yet watched, subscribed, liked and even joined patreon for our guest Youtubers at Single Malt Review in New Zealand. Whisky Whistle in Canada and Scotch Test Dummies in the US. Plus the bonus Food Quig reviews.

Tomorrow we are off to Speyside for something special from our friends at Wemyss Malts and a distillery I particularly enjoy.

5 drams to go. How has the adventure been for you so far? I hope it has stretched your way of thinking about Scotch Whisky and that you enjoy an even wider range of flavors than you did before.

Looking forward to your company tomorrow.

Until then

Cheers

Jonathan

 

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 15 – Singlemalting # 212 – Secret Spirits Caol Ila 8 Year Old

Caol Ila, workhorse of the Islay underworld. Pumping out more Smoky, Peaty, Islay goodness than all the rest of the Islay distilleries combined by quite some margin. As you already noted on day 5 we actually did a cask of Caol Ila in the 4th edition but were unable to fill any full size bottles for the peaty faithful. This year is a different story and we have managed to get a bit more of the sister cask. These limited bottles will be released along with most of the other Secret Spirits whiskies from the 5th edition in the first quarter of 2019. Stay tuned for the pre-order information.

Caol Ila is owned by industry giant Diageo and makes up the backbone of their peaty needs for the Johnnie Walker range. Founded in 1846 it has changed hands many times and seen some closures including during the second World War when due to barley shortages most distilleries ceased operations. Must have been a tough time for whisky lovers in the mid 50’s when all of those whiskies would have been around 10 years old and hitting the market. Caol Ila is taken from the Gaelic Caol Ìle for “sound of Islay” refering to the location of the distillery overlooking the strait between Islay and Jura.

Caol Ila Distillery

Secret Spirits Caol Ila 8 Year Old Single Malt – Bourbon Cask # SS006 – Islay – alcohol 59.5%

Colour:             Pinot Gris sparkle gold.

Nose:                Certainly does not smell like Pinot Gris as that classic Islay heavily peated salt, earth and fire leap out of the glass. For me the smokiness is much more subdued than the peat note. Could it be that there is a wee Scottish flower poking up from the bog?

Palate:             Peated Vanilla cookies and Cavendish pipe tobacco. Im my minds eye I’m standing right in the middle of a large Islay farm paddock complete with heavy hoof prints, upturned earth and mud puddles. The rain is just about to hit and the sky is dark and brooding. Scurrying into the farmers house just as the heavens unleash I find myself sipping this dram by the fire and absolutely loving the Islay experience.

Finish:          Very long with a lemon essence that surprisingly jumps in at the end. Certainly on the slightly sweeter side of Caol Ila but there is no mistaking the huge use of peat to malt this barley. Delicious trip to Islay and I hope that has made you peat only peat please hurt me with peat guys happy enough to visit the mainland a few more times.

On this day in the 4th edition we had another smoky expression with the Wemyss Malts Peat Chimney Batch Strength.

I know that Daniel in particular loves younger Islay so it will be interesting to see how this one fares over at the Whiskey Vault. Scotch Test Dummies are not afraid of peat either so will no doubt relish this little trip to Islay.

Tomorrow we are back on the mainland with a delicious malt from the team at Wemyss.

Until then may the finish linger long into the night…..

Cheers

 

Jonathan

whisky advent calendar

Singlemalting # 171 – 4th edition SWAC Day 5 – Secret Spirits Caol Ila 8 Year Old

Only our 3rd ever bottling under the Secret Spirits label and I was excited to include something brooding and smoky from Islay. I managed to find this whisky after a long drive South in Scotland to a windswept warehouse on a lonely road far from the warm whisky bars of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Tasting through numerous barrel samples is no easy task. Especially when those samples are from Islay. It can all start to get very overpowering even for a palate that has been as abused as mine has. I actually ended up needing an additional sample sent to me in Canada to confirm that this was indeed exactly what I thought I had tasted many months before.

Caol Ila is the workhorse distillery on Islay and produces more whisky than the rest of Islay combined. With the recent announcement that Port Ellen will be reopened there could be a potential challenge down the road for that title.

Caol Ila Distillery

As a side note to the story I ended up encountering a rather challenging road closure that was going to send me an hour out of my way and cause me to be late for my appointment with my next round of drinking. Firm faith in the fact that my GPS said there was a road I took to a narrow and ultimately dodgy farmers track. Several gates and nervous sheep later not to mention steep water laden creek beds and rocky inclines I arrived at the farmers home. Bemused and nodding to his son as he heard my Aussie accent (bloody tourists) he motioned me to the connector that got me back on my way.

Secret Spirits Caol Ila 8 Year Old Single Malt – 59.8% ABV – Refill Bourbon cask. Cask Number SS007

Colour:   Pale horse of the Apocalypse pale. Barely a tinge of white gold.

Nose:   Smoldering Hickory

Palate:   Boom the 59.8% is awesome in its assault bringing plenty of those smoldering embers into play along with a spoonful of medicine that helps the whisky go down. Through it all there is a tingly ball of waxy honeycomb that ties it all together.

Finish:   Just dominates the palate with ABV coating goodness. The smoke just lingers on and on and makes me yearn for my next stint in the backyard poking at the fire pit. This is one big ballsy young Caol Ila and delivers in spades to all you Islay fans.

Every bit as awesome as I remember. There will be some full size bottles available of this dram so just email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com and I will let you know where you can get some.

In the 3rd edition on day 5 we had the A.D. Rattray Ledaig 9 Year Old. Seems that I always tend to insert our first dark side whisky around this time (to keep the peated faithful happy of course).

Check out Scotch Trooper who has no doubt incorporated some dark forces for his photo on this dram.

Tomorrow we are getting our Italian whisky geek on with a dram from those awesome guys at Samaroli.

Until then may your dark side dreams be everything you want and more.

Cheers

Singlemalting