Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Side by side: A trio from Caol Ila!

Rather than review drams by themselves I'm doing a little series comparing some 'side by side'.
There may be two or more, they may be from the same or different distilleries, similar ages, ABVs and types or not as I decide!

This time we are reviewing three different drams from Caol Ila distillery, a young one from Morrison & MacKay, a distillery bottling matured in a Moscatel cask and a Berry Bros & Rudd bottling, what difference is there?

DramThe Big Strand (NAS) - Morrison & MacKayCaol Ila - The Distillers Edition 2001 - 12yoCaol Ila - Berrys' Own Selection 1996 -12 yo
Characteristics46% ABV, Non-coloured, NCF43% ABV, Coloured, Chillfiltered56.7% ABV, Non-coloured, Chillfiltered, Cask strength, Single cask
Distillery infoNone!Richly flavoured yet also drying and finely balanced, the Moscatel cask wood is not over evident in this double-matured Caol Ila.

Nose: Wonderfully concentrated and clean, peaty, medicinal, with rich fruit, spicy and fragrant.
Palate: Sweet maltiness strike first, then overwhelmed by peat smoke, intense, crisp flavours, and cinnamon spice.
Finish: Long, rounded, robust and multi-layered.
None that I could find.
My thoughts: 
Almost transparent, swirls tear up, slow thin legs
Very pale gold, swirls tear up, slow fat legs
Pale gold, swirls lead to fast thin legs
NoseMild smoke, some orchard fruitBonfire smoke, sweet honeyMild smoke, vanilla
PalateSurprisingly sweet, light smoke, spicy biteVery sweet, honey, strawberries, almost like a dessert wine, spicySmooth smoky arrival, honey, red fruit, hides it's high ABV well. Sweet dessert wine notes
FinishShort, spicy, warmingGrapefruit notes, smoke warmingLong, spicy, smoky
OverallAn unusual trio of drams, the Big Strand was a surprise - surprisingly nice - a typical Islay smokey dram - lovely! The own bottling was a real strange one - far too sweet for me, then when I tried the Berry Bros. I got similar underlying notes of sweetness, back to the Strand and that had some in there too.
I can't remember any sweetness in my tasting of the standard Caol Ila 12yo and didn't get the oiliness form the 12yo in any of these - interesting!
Overall I'd recommend all of the drams, but only try the last two if you like sweet drams - of course there's nothing wrong with the basic 12yo!

All of these were drample swaps with friends! Thanks to @gavsdrams for the Big Strand, @ocdwhisky for the Distillers Edition & @GregsWhiskyG for the Berry Bros.

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