This was Caol Ila’s bottling for Feis Ile 2016 and another one that was matured in ex-bodega sherry butts as well as refill American oak hogsheads.
Remember I wondered what these ex-bodega casks could be while reviewing the Lagavulin Jazz Festival 2015. I asked the same question on Facebook and although we still don’t have official information, it appears they are fairly inactive 600-liter casks (like they use in bodegas, hence “bodega butt”) instead of the 500-liter butts that are more common in whisky warehouses. Makes sense, although I still think the name is a little misleading as there is no guarantee they have actually been used in the production of sherry wine.
Anyway, a fairly modest bottling but quite limited. The whisky was selected by Andrew Millsopp, group manager for Port Ellen, Caol Ila and Lagavulin.
Caol Ila 12 yo (56,2%, OB for Feis Ile 2016, American oak hogsheads & ex-Bodega European oak sherry butts, 1500 btl.)
Nose: immediately transfers you to a Scottish harbour. Punchy brine, hints of kelp and tar ropes. Mossy peat. Plenty of iodine and antiseptics. A bit of pepper and vanilla, from the American oak I guess, with rounder notes of honey and almonds in the background. Lime juice too. Unsurprisingly excellent.
Mouth: again assertive, slightly rough but not austere. Big, fatty texture. Peat and tar, briney notes and salty liquorice, quickly balanced by sweet mocha, dark chocolate and hints of toffee. Lemon pie. And quite some pepper again.
Finish: very long, still oily, with lovely cocoa and coffee.
It may not be the most refined Caol Ila, but it delivers big time. I love the oomph and the pepper / mocha flavours that come along. Around € 120 at the festival.