Maltbarn has a new batch of bottlings: Invergordon 1973, Fettercairn 1988, Glen Elgin 1995 and the youngest of them all, this Caol Ila 2004.
Although I can think of at least two others from the same bottler, you don’t get too many Caol Ila expressions from sherry oak these days. I’m always surprised how it can take the common, clean bourbon profile into different directions.
Caol Ila 12 yo 2004
(54,7%, Maltbarn 2017, 175 btl.)
Nose: the sherry isn’t all that loud, yet it gives it a nicely tarry, sooty edge and a certain hint of Laphroaig, if that makes sense to you. Fat, rather sweet smoke. Hints of canvas. Quite some medicinal notes, plenty of eucalyptus and menthol. Just a hint of plums or blackberries. Buttered toast. A touch of leather.
Mouth: big smoke, black pepper, with an oily, fatty texture. Liquorice and a vague sweet fruitiness / brown sugar in the background. Charcoal and some mineral notes. Antiseptics and similar medicinals. Again, this has traces of a sherried Laphroaig or even Port Charlotte.
Finish: very long, very smoky, with some liquorice and scorched oak.
I associate Caol Ila with a chiselled, often lemony, clean Islay profile, but this is less sharp, more vegetal, darker, smokier and generally speaking more towards other Islay distilleries. Quite a nice variation and just excellent whisky in its own right. Around € 115.