I am typically not the type of person who hunts down rare whiskies. That isn’t to say I’m against it; suffice to say without swapping or going to bars, I wouldn’t be trying the whiskies I do.
On some level I see the desire to hunt down a rare bottle. Waiting in line, finding out where something is, using your wits and charisma (which you haven’t dump stated) to find something at MSRP. It’s the thrill of the hunt. The eye of the tiger, if you will.
That said, I had saved up some of my pennies, and decided I would like a nice birthday bottle. Caol Ila 34 1982 Cadenhead Small Batch was my white whale. Or maybe a slightly grey one. Or the colour 5Y 9/8 on the Munsell chart.
First a friend attempted to get it in London. The bottle sold out in less than an hour. Given that the Cadenhead shop in London is a shark tank in a fine suit, I assume there was blood all the way to Baker street.
Then I attempted to get it in Germany. However it was gone before I could say “Oh nein, die Flasche ist weg. Ich denke, ich hätte schneller sein sollen”
Then it came to Canada, and luckily friends were in the province and able to bring it back to me.
Yes, there was less line waiting, however I was still very excited to end up with this. But why was it so wanted? Was it all hype? Or were the reviews accurate?
Let’s see, shall we?
Price: Sold out
Colour: 5Y 9/8
Nose: Milk chocolate, salted caramel doughnuts, strawberry jam, blueberry pie fresh from the oven, morning at the pond
Wow. Big milk chocolate to start, followed by a high end patisserie ready to take my money and a few years of my life.
More time gives you a fresh buttery/blueberry flavour. And some water adds even more complexity with a swampy, dew like clean smell. Yes, clean swamp. We need swamps people, they clean the water! Otherwise the frogs will turn gay!
Taste: Lemon pie with meringue, mint/basil pesto, Reese’s peanut butter cups, peach jam
Lighter flavour to start, but with no less complexity. Yeah, I can see why this was bought up. It tastes like Reese’s peanut butter cups at one point.
And I’m pretty sure that’s not the peyote kicking in, because that was in the other glass.
Finish: Fresh salsa, mole sauce, key lime truffle, peach sorbet, mint, cloves, fruit cup
An interesting study in acidity at the end.
I added some water hoping to explore some more, however water cuts a lot of the spice and ferocity of the dram. It’s one of the few times where adding water was a huge let down.
Conclusion: Don’t add water, it loses a lot of it’s great parts with water. Which is definitely an odd reaction.
This whisky takes the strength and makes it part of the beauty of the dram. The sharp taste of the alcohol adds to the acidity and adds a new dimension. So much so that water being added actually lowered the complexity, even with small amounts.
Yes, that’s not normal. And it’ll be interesting to see how this changes once opened. Beyond that, it’s a great dram. Big sweet notes, wonderful complexity, and overall takes the acidity of Caol Ila and runs with it.
Scotch review #787, Islay review #189, Whisky Network review #1290