The Whisky Exchange presented a series of new exclusives: another Arran 1996, a Benromach 2010 single cask and this Caol Ila 2001, which is a 19 year old expression matured in a first-fill bourbon cask.
Bottler Gordon & MacPhail released a few sister casks in the past few years, one of the US, one for Germany and one for The Netherlands, among others.
Caol Ila 19 yo 2001 (57,6%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Exchange 2021, first-fill bourbon barrel #308900, 192 btl.)
Nose: tight and maritime at first. Flints, seaweed, capers. Then growing wider, with gentle bonfire smoke, subtle balms, some carbon paper and crème brûlée. In the background we find some golden apple, peach and kiwi. Black pepper, heather honey and fake leather too.
Mouth: salty punch with liquorice and more peat. Aniseed and chilli, before it gets sweeter and warmer on coal ashes with an underlying, vague fruitiness. Maybe a hint of mango, later also lime and vanilla, mixed with oak char and mint.
Finish: medium length, on burnt wood, mint, briney notes and lemon zest.
TWE describes this as a calmed down Caol Ila, but I think it hasn’t lost much of its feisty punch. Luckily it’s balanced by fruity notes and very refreshing minty / peppery notes. Given the price though, I’m not sure there’s a real advantage over other (perhaps younger and cheaper) expressions. Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange.