Monday, May 30, 2022

Caol Ila Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice 13 Year Single Malt Scotch

- $100
- 90 Proof
- 13 Years
- Batch 18/002
- Islay

I really do love all things peat and sweet. I have yet to find a wine barrel matured or finished single malt that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. There's something about that fruity and smoky combination that just hits right. So when this bottle popped up on Binny's shelves, it wasn't much of a decision to be made. I knew I'd have to give it a try.

This particular bottle was initially matured in first fill bourbon and refill American casks. After that, it was finished in Hermitage casks for an additional 3 years. I had to look it up, but Hermitage is a French red wine made from Syrah grapes, which notably tend to be a bit more earthy and tannic. I could only hope that would mingle well with delicious Caol Ila peat.

On the nose I immediately got char notes mixed with spicy dark fruit, like blackberry and pepper.  Of course I got a health amount of smoke from the peat, as well as a sweet brown sugar note. This all really reminded me of a sweet and spicy barbecue, the kind that makes your mouth water just smelling it.

The flavor was absolutely bursting with the dark fruit notes from the wine finish. I was immediately hit with a ton of dark cherry, blackberry, fig and even raisin. It was vibrant and rich, and even managed to overtake the peat. This was one of the "juicier" whiskies I can recall ever having.

Those dark fruits were accompanied by the same brown sugar and black pepper that I got on the nose, offering a nice sweet and spicy background to go with those fruit forward notes. Of course the peaty notes made their way in eventually (they can't really be denied), and it again leaned towards a delicious barbecue flavor.

On the finish the pepper spice really stuck around, including at the back of my throat. There as also this soft vanilla note that came through, which seemed to balance out a lingering cherry note that had coated my mouth. 

This was a fantastic bottle, and two friends and I killed half the bottle just the first night opening it. I wanted to slow myself down, but I couldn't help but go back, and that bottle was killed within a couple weeks, which is always a mark of a great whisky!

Grade: A

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