Kilnaughton Secret Islay 2021 Cooper’s Choice

Thanks to devoz  for letting me pour a sample of this.

Let’s just sit with this for a second: You’re a person who is shopping for whisky. There’s a chance that you aren’t looking up what you buy on the internet. I’d actually wager it’s a certainty, more than just a good chance.

You come upon Kilnaughton Secret Islay 2021 Cooper’s Choice. Someone who’s been drinking for a while? You know what it is.

Maybe you know a bit about whisky? You’ll be able to parse some of it together. Cooper’s Choice is a range of independently bottled whisky from independent bottler Vintage Malt Whisky Company. It’s either from 2021 or it was bottled in 2021, which a quick read (which you’re proving you can do right now) means you read it was bottled in 2021, and while you’re reading, that it was matured in a Spanish Rioja Red Wine cask.

You may even put 4 and 269 together and figure out it’s an Islay which has been renamed. Which is pretty good, frankly, and if that’s it, give that back of yours a pat.

If you’ve had Kilnaughton before, you’ll know it’s the name of a human settlement on Islay. Which happens to be down the road from Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, and the Islay Rum Distillery.

So which of these is it? First off, it’s not a rum, because it says whisky on the label and this isn’t Indian whisky from 10+ years ago, so we’re good there. Laphroaig tends to either be called Williamson or just Laphroaig when it’s a “secret”. Lagavulin usually doesn’t have a name, per say, and the best I can find is Findlaggin or Classic of Islay. Finally there’s Ardbeg, which either says Ardbeg on it or… well, some have said Kilnaughton.

Will we ever know for certain? Probably not. I’ll listen to the people who know, and not… I don’t know, was going to write a joke here that says “Ard the Beg” but that’s silly.

Let’s see how this Islay tastes, shall we?

Price: $90 CAD

Region: Islay

Bottled: 2021

Cask type: Spanish Rioja Red Wine Matured

Cask Number: 279

Number of bottles: 318

Abv: 53.5%

Colour: 7.5YR 5/8

Nose: Roast fennel, hot chocolate, cinnamon, chili powder

It’s not Lagavulin. S’alright? S’alright.

Lots of strong flavours, roast elements, spice, and chocolate. It’s not subtle. This is your last dram for the night. It’s the kind of dram that will drive those who don’t love smoke far away from you.

Taste: Chocolate covered raspberry, brine, raisins, hot candy

The chocolate amps up, the wine cask adds acidity, the whisky itself is briny and hot, and the whole thing tastes like it was made hard, fast, and awesome. Like when someone other than me makes something in a wok, which could be characterized as slow, soft, burning myself, and barely edible.

Finish: Cranberries, salty pork, plum, tocino, cranberry sauce

If the nose and taste were showing what an Islay is, with some aspects of the cask showing up (or at least aspects we may attribute to the cask), the finish is all the cask and no brakes, except for the salty pork note.

Which if you don’t like pork, I feel bad for you but more for me, so yay.

Conclusion: Sweet, smoke, strong, and tasty. Want more. It’s moreish. I hate that the British were right about that word.

It’s a slightly tart, interesting whisky. It’s big, bombastic, complex enough, and easy to drink. Frankly it’s what I’d have all the time, if it didn’t alienate people and severely lower the amount of reviews I write.

This is what you want. Screw where it’s from, who cares, it’s tasty.

85/100

Scotch review #1516, Islay review #395, Whisky Network review #2225

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