The last of the three new Port Askaig releases that have recently been let loose on the market. I tried this one last because I wanted to build up in age. I didn’t taste them on the same day, then another order would have been more practical. Those old Islay bottlings tend to be rather gentle, compared to younger versions.
A few years ago there also was a 30 year old release from Port Askaig, without it being cask strength. Right at the same time there also was a Bladnoch Forum release of Caol Ila 30 that were nice to compare. The drawback was that I wasn’t too thrilled by either of them. Let’s hope this one fares better.
This, compared to the 12 and 19 year olds is in a totally different league. The palate is much lighter and friendlier, with a much more gently smokiness than it is harsh. The freshness comes in the form of mint and coriander, maybe even some fenugreek. A hint of Gouda cheese as well, with a little bit of fat to it. Dry wood, dry ginger root but also a hint of multi purpose cleaning spray. This all is combined with old oak beams in the background.
Spicier than I expected! The ABV warrants this, but I was lured out of my careful place by the nose. There is a certain crispness that reminds me more of Sauvignon Blanc than anything else. The spiciness is very woody, with sugar and pepper, vanilla and again, that cheesy hint. It gets a bit greasier on the tongue if you let it swim for a while.
The word that describes the finish best is ‘old fashioned’. I feel this is what whisky was years ago, but I’m not sure why. Fenugreek and dried leaves are plentiful. The smoke is very, very gentle. It just makes it presence known.
I’m going to rub some people the wrong way here but: Why would anyone pay for expensive and overpriced Port Ellen when this stuff is around? Old Caol Ila is getting into it’s own more and more and these kind of bottlings are fairly sublime. I absolutely love the gentleness of it and the combination of wood, spices and the freshness of it all.
On the official tasting notes there are hints of lemon and other fruits, but I didn’t pick up on those all that much.
Caol Ila 30, 51.1%, Speciality Drinks Ltd., available at The Whisky Exchange for £ 199.
Official sample provided by The Whisky Exchange. Thanks!