Thanks to /u/xile_ for pouring a sample of this.
Alright, so let’s review the second day of tasting: We had a lighter, interesting palette opener, a bombastic Speyside, an Irish that should have helped open another tasting, and a briny, peated Island Scotch.
I guess it’s time to have more peat then.
Which brings us to Caol Ila 26 1988 Càrn Mòr Celebration of the Cask. Older peated whiskies do tend to be lighter in intensity, however, based on the people who had drunk this previously, this was put last. Mostly because we didn’t have an Octomore to follow it up this time.
So what is it? Well, it’s a 26-year-old Caol Ila that was left well enough alone and then scooped up by those family owned, always interesting people at Morrison & MacKay. This falls into the second independent bottle label from them, meaning it’s at full cask strength though didn’t quite hit the quality level needed to get to that mythical level of Black Gold.
I’m not picky, that’ll do. Oh wait, I am picky, that’s the entire point of trying everything.
Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A any more
Vintage: December 1st, 1988
Bottled: August 18th, 2015
Stated Age: 26-years-old
Cask # 4213
Cask Type: Hogshead
Number of bottles: 135
Nose: Mexican vanilla extract, cigar, grapefruit, gingerbread
For those of you who don’t bake: Mexican vanilla extract is stronger (at least the stuff I ask friends for) than your typical. This smells exactly like that.
Also, I’m at fault here again in that I’m just writing “cigar” rather than going into detail. I apologize, I can’t really get the type of cigar going on. It’s more that smell of someone smoking a cigar nearby? Does that help? No? Maybe one with lots of spice and vanilla. Does that help? Is that a thing?
Fruit and spices/cereal round this one out. It’s not as strong in that “raw peat” way, but the lingering cigar/spice is certainly potent.
Taste: Rich caramel, mojito, French vanilla ice cream, graham, dry cinnamon
Take the normal whisky caramel, and dial it up to 11. Yes, I realize that’s silly because 11 just replaces 10, but let’s stop quoting mockumentaries and just visualize that. It’s a big caramel note. Add to that big vanilla, big mint/molasses, and lots of cereal/cookie, and you have a big flavour profile.
Finish: Vanilla ice cream, creme de menthe, cinnamon crackers, peach jam
More cream, which seems to get everywhere. Lots and lots of spice. Nothing here is super complex, but everything is supercharged.
Conclusion: Cinnamon/vanilla bomb with higher than normal complexity. It’s like an above average tweaked out the car. Sure it’s not going to win any races but it’s certainly going faster on the highway. Really fast. A smooth trip, if you will.
So where does that put this whisky? Well if you love cinnamon and vanilla amped up, then it’s a no-brainer. If you want more complexity after more than two-and-a-half decades, you may be a bit disappointed. There’s more complex Caol is and more complex whiskies.
Thus it’s not easy to rate this. I liked it, but I wanted it to have that “wow” moment that never really came. If that’s not needed for you personally, then up the score, cause it’ll do what you need.
Scotch review #1035, Islay review #277, Whisky Network review #1621