Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon First Fill and Virgin American Oak
Added coloring: No
Owner: Wilson & Morgan
Average price: € 47.00
Official website: www.wilsonandmorgan.com
A couple of months after the excellent Ben Nevis 7yo (2013-2020), we return to taste a whisky from the Barrel Selection of Italian Wilson & Morgan: a Caol Ila distilled in 2008 and bottled in 2020. The result of vatting (the process of mixing several whiskies with different characteristics but all coming from the same distillery) of five ex-Bourbon casks of first filling and two virgin American white oak casks (hence the name Quercus Alba), it’s offered at 46% ABV, in its natural colour and without chillfiltration. Many excellent Caol Ila ex-Bourbon can be found around that age among independents. Wilson & Morgan wanted to take a risk with the addition of virgin casks. Let’s see how it turned out.
The colour is straw yellow.
The nose immediately reveals the typical notes of Caol Ila: bonfire smoke, salted herring, seaweed, smoked ham and an unexpected whiff of burnt tyre. The aromatic palette is enriched by a hint of resin, a sprinkling of cloves and an unusual scent of incense. A faint impression of vinegar is accompanied by a very autumnal memory of roasted chestnuts. With a little attention, one can also detect, in the background, dried dates, a touch of wax, a thread of worked leather and a fragrance that suggests a walk in a fir wood. We are faced with a rich and original nose that tells of a whisky that is not necessarily accommodating.
On the palate, the oily body envelops the mouth with hints of sea peat and campfire smoke, with charred bacon and lots of black pepper witnessing the marriage of freshly cut wood and dried fruit (peanuts and cashews).
The finish of smoke and dried fruit boasts, as is traditional for the distillery, an above-average persistence.
Like blending, vatting is a fine art that requires an uncommon knowledge of the material and a sense of proportion. Wilson & Morgan show that they possess them with this whisky that is so risky on paper, that probably requires time and patience to be enjoyed to the full, but that rewards the drinker with a dram of great substance not without surprises.
Other bottlings in the blog:
A&G Rare Cask Selection Caol Ila 10yo
Caol Ila 12yo
Caol Ila 18yo
Caol Ila 18yo Unpeated 2017
Caol Ila Distillers Edition 2018
Caol Ila Moch
Caol Ila Natural Cask Strength
Dramfool Cola Ali 4
Dramfool Cola Ali 5
Golden Drops Caol Ila 8yo
Gordon&MacPhail Reserve Caol Ila 2008
Morisco Spirits Caol Ila 11yo
Signatory Caol Ila 1994 Port Wood Finish
The Islay Star 11yo
Valinch & Mallet Caol Ila 11yo
Other bottlings from Wilson & Morgan in the blog:
Wilson & Morgan Ben Nevis 7yo (2013-2020)
Wilson & Morgan Bunnahabhain 2014
Wilson & Morgan Cameronbridge 33yo
Wilson & Morgan Glen Grant 25yo
Wilson & Morgan House Malt 2013-2018
Wilson & Morgan Ledaig 2008
Wilson & Morgan Macduff 2006
Wilson & Morgan Tobermory 23yo