Monday, January 17, 2011

Caol Ila 12yo 43%

I have always been a huge fan of Caol Ila - if I am honest it is probably my favourite Islay malt - although I can see in a few years time Kilchoman may be pushing it close as they have had some brilliant releases so far.

The 12yo distillery bottling has been on the go now for a number of years now since the legendary 15yo flora and fauna bottling was taken off the market. I was actually supposed to be on Islay at Caol Ila for the launch of the new Caol Ila bottlings but unfortunately my sister went and got married and I had to miss it (Not unfortunate that my sister got married - she is still happily married!).

Anyway the 12yo distillery bottling was not my favourite when it first came out and generally speaking I have always preferred independent bottlings of Caol Ila to the distillery bottling. That said I tried this again at Hogmany and was very impressed with it - in fairness it was at 5am on the 1st of January so not the best time to do tasting notes! So lets give it a try again:

Nose: Sweet, creamy, dry ash, lemon, olive oil, wet grass, white chocolate. With time becomes like rain on cement on a hot day (god when did I start writing such rubbish!)

Taste: Reasonable initial hit of peat, black pepper, lime, more olive oil and a touch chalky. Tastes a little bit like paracetamols! Some creaminess does emerge and then there is the (for me) typical lawnmower flavour of Caol Ila. More ashiness also develops.

Finish: A little clingy, quite chewy and oily but a slight sour note is a little unpleasant. More ash and also a touch of salt.

Comment: A decent dram from a very consistently good distillery - this whisky is good although not as good as I remembered it being on the 1st of January. If it wasn't for the slight chalkiness and the sour note this would be a cracker. Maybe if it was at 46% and not chillfiltered true Caol Ila would be allowed to shine through. Not bad but not a cracker.

Score: 83/100

On a side note - I actually got this bottle from my neighbour who had actually asked me to try the whisky as he thought it was off! He couldnt belive when I told him it was actually supposed to taste like that! He is very much a Speyside man! Was all good for me as I scored a bottle of whisky - well what was left at the end of the night!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Drunk as a couple of Monkeys!

Well we are in to 2011 and hopefully I will manage more than the 7 posts I managed in the whole of 2010! Must try harder. Anyway I was reading Bad Whisky by Edward Burns - a cracking book about the adulteration of whisky (and many other things) in Glasgow at the end of the 19th century and I came across a fact that I had never seen before. (I now see it was posted on Malt Maniacs in 2006 so I am a little behind the times).

Anyway the jist of the story is that two Monkeys helped to bring in the immature spirits - it was thought that the fusel oil in new make spirit was bad for the health and that by maturing whisky in wood it reduced the fusel oil in the spirit making it safer to drink.

To prove this theory two Monkeys were made drunk. The first got drunk on new make spirit and "was seen to become quarrelsome" which they put down to the Fusel oil which at the time was "well known for making men fighting drunk".

The second Monkey got drunk on aged whisky and it became "markedly hilarious". In the true spirit of science though when the monkeys sobered up they swich the drink that they had - the monkey that had been angry seemed to "cheer up" and the happy one to become "aggressive".

It is not recorded though how the could tell that the monkeys were sober or how long they left them before switching the drinks. It all makes sense really if you were drinking new make spirit all day and you could see your mate drinking matured whisky you would get a bit pissed off - but you would certainly cheer up seeing the smug grin later being taken off his face as they take away his old whisky and replace it with new make!

Any on the back of this Greenlees brothers released a whisky called The Monkey Special - sheer brilliance. If anyone sees a bottle I would definitely be interested in it! However a word of warning - it is amazing how many pictures come up in google when you search for pictures of drunk monkeys!

Does make you think though! Those guys that are always angling for a fight on a Saturday night maybe it is not their fault - its not that they have drunk to much alcohol they have just been drinking too much Fusel Oil!