Orkney / Ardmore / Caol Ila (Reserve Casks No.11)

Orkney / Ardmore / Caol Ila (Reserve Casks No.11)

The latest batch of Reserve Casks in the Single Malts of Scotland series is Parcel No.11. I still vividly remember Parcel No.1 merely four years ago. As always these are single malt releases, with a handful of casks blended together. The current parcel include whisky from an undisclosed Orkney distillery, Ardmore and Caol Ila.

We start with the Orkney Malt. We had an excellent 2007 as part of Parcel No.4 and a really good 2011 for Kirsch Import, so the hopes are high.


Orkney 11 yo 2012 (48%, Single Malts of Scotland ‘Reserve Casks’ 2023, Parcel 11, Oloroso sherry butts)

Nose: rich and clean. Deep plummy notes, as well as raisin cake and toffee apples. Quite fruity, which is always nice. Then apple crumble with cinnamon dusting, caramelized hazelnut and hints of heather honey. Hints of raspberry ganache come out after a while. A lightly tangy hint of smoky liquorice, ginger and herbal tea as well.

Mouth: slightly smokier now. Toasted walnuts mixed with dark toffee and dark chocolate. Then some darker fruits like blackberries, although they can’t keep up the vibrancy of the nose. Instead there is plenty of coffee and cocoa, making it slightly flatter overall. Then minty notes, ginger and hints of charred oak, in line with some of the official single casks of late. Some cloves and mossy hints as well.

Finish: long, on cinnamon bark, black tea and hints of tobacco. Still some cocoa as well.

You can trust Elixir for selecting high quality Highland Park. This is no different: the price quality ratio is quite perfect. Available from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange for instance.



Ardmore 13 yo 2009 (48%, Single Malts of Scotland ‘Reserve Casks’ 2023, Parcel 11, ex-Laphroaig + refill barrels)

Ardmore 2009 - Single Malts of Scotland - Parcel 11 Nose: starts fresh, on green apple, heather and lemons. Growing darker over time, with a thicker, sootier smokiness. Then green peppercorn, leafy notes and ferns, a little porridge and grassy notes. Charred herbs as well.

Mouth: straightforward, with a good smokiness, more black pepper and a drop of coffee. There’s a raw hint of eau-de-vie, plain malt and something of horseradish, as well as burnt (slightly bitter) grass, lime peels and a hint of floral heather.

Finish: long, malty and smoky. More peppercorns and a touch of caramel sweetness in the background.

Quite simple, but showing a lovely intensity even though it’s not as strong as most other independent Ardmore. Available from The Whisky Exchange or Master of Malt among other retailers. Score: 86/100



Caol Ila 11 yo 2012 (48%, Single Malts of Scotland ‘Reserve Casks’ 2023, Parcel 11, refill sherry butts)

Caol Ila 2012 - Single Malts of Scotland - Reserve Casks Nose: a warm smokiness, showing hints of cigars and cigar boxes, walnuts and a hint of hessian. Then smoked ham, hints of coffee, lovely dried seaweed and some earthy notes. Maybe a hint of date sweetness and herbal honey. The sherry is discreet but adds a certain warmth that brings it closer to, say, Lagavulin.

Mouth: so good. Pipe tobacco, burnt herbs, dark chocolate and black peppercorns. Hints of liquorice and brine, with hints of pine, walnuts and leather. Plenty of ashes. Just a touch of Seville orange, banana, and charred lemon peel.

Finish: long, charred and smoky, with walnuts, pickling juice and herbal tea. Quite dark but with a hint of marmalade.

Deep Caol Ila with the richness of the sherry, but in a very dry style. Different types of smoke in this trio, but always very high quality, beating most official releases in terms of quality for money. Available from The Whisky Exchange for instance. Score: 89/100