Caol Ila 8 2011 Single Malts of Scotland

Thanks to devoz for this sample.

Is it an elephant in the room if we’re still talking about it? Probably not. Right now whisky and the economy has hit a point where you are choosing between your hobby and having extra money for fun things, like rent or food.

Thus we start breaking down the costs of whisky. First off, there’s the ROI required by the company. These are really important, as we know the future of mankind is based on yachts being bought by rich people who benefit from these profits. Thus we can’t lower those.

Distilleries are already running on skeleton crews of highly specialised people who are living in the middle of nowhere with no backups, we can’t cut the usual culprit of wages. Too bad, because usually that’s golden, as your neighbours will cheer on the lower wages of working people to help the true cause of humanity, building more large boats.

Oh, and we’ve already choked out the suppliers and used vinegar casks for sherry ones. But can we release whisky sooner to save money and bring in more money?

Enter Caol Ila 8 2011 Single Malts of Scotland, a store pick, an independently bottled, younger sherry cask Caol Ila. We know they are an industrial whisky maker, thus lower price, and we didn’t lose a bunch of money to the air due to the younger age.

I have a bias towards young whisky, however if you haven’t explored whisky outside of official releases then you’ll be swooning onto your fainting couches and require extra cocaine for your floating uteri today at the sight of age on the bottle. Don’t worry, sometimes young whiskies can be complex.

The issue there is the word “sometimes”. When you have an older whisky, there’s a chance it was given the time to develop complexity, and there’s a chance that it never hit that point and they needed to call it quits. You still have to make money on that cask, because yachts. Then you have young whiskies, which either were taking up space or didn’t have a flavour profile that could be used or they sucked and you have to still make money because again, yachts.

It’s all a fun time, and then you have to debate drinking the whisky or auctioning it off on the off chance that you can afford something other than the cheapest ramen.

So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Price: $85 CAD

Region: Islay

Cask # 300161

Cask type Sherry butt

Vintage: 2011

Bottled: 2020

Abv: 61.2%

Bottled for Kensington Wine Market

Colour: 5Y 9/6

Nose: BBQ sauce, candied pork, aloe, oyster

Wow, that’s strong. Yes, it’s been a minute since I reviewed an Islay, much less a cask strength peated younger whisky, but this is strong even by normal “cask strength Caol Ila” standards.

Also there’s no subtlety here: The brine is strong, the herbal/clean notes are strong, and the BBQ/pork flavours are strong. Like that time I ended up on the gay side of St. Catherines while the bars were letting out, everything was strong and on display here. Seriously, I looked like a 5-year-old standing next to some of those gents and ladies..

Taste: Fennel, pork, cinnamon, ancho, lime sorbet

Anise and pork works. Wanna test it? Go buy Italian sausage, or Italian vegan sausage if that’s your jam (no judgement). It works really nicely.

Then there’s acidity from this peppery flavour, which I mostly know because a few weeks ago I may have smoked out the house while making some chilli. Good news: Chilli was good, just like this whisky.

Finish: Anise, oyster, lime pudding, jerky, peat

Someone made mention of an earlier review I wrote about a peated whisky and didn’t mention smoke. I typically try to suss out if the smoke grows to some other flavour before writing “smoke” or “peat”.

In this case some of that happens, and you get elements of spice and jerky, but on the other hand it eventually hits a simpler, “yeah, that’s peat” level. Like when your buddy attempts to jump over the bonfire and you have to easily explain what’s happening to newcomers. And his name is Pete.

Get it?

Conclusion: Molasses, oyster, and anise, with a bit of earth and a ton of complexity. It falls off a tad at the end and goes to “simple peat flavours people like me already enjoy”, but that’s just in comparison to the sheer amount of complexity in the rest.

Frankly this is the type of whisky you are looking for in a younger whisky. The unicorn, the fluke, the best case scenario. No muss, no fuss, just strong, lovely flavours. The CEOs get a new yacht, and you can drink away the horror show of late stage capitalism. Is it perfect? Not at all. But money is gonna money, and we’re left with it for now, so I’ll keep trying to find the hidden beauties among the just okays and the ugly ones.

85/100

Scotch review #1498, Islay review #394, Whisky Network review #2203

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