Translate Caskstrength!

Monday 24 March 2008

Duty Bound to review a Macallan

The Macallan - OB - Elegancia - 12 Yo - 1992 / 2004 - Duty Free Only - 1L bottle

For our first review of The Macallan, we happen upon a bottle of 1992 Elegancia. Each year a different bottling of Elegancia is introduced and can only be purchased via Duty Free, hence the size of this bottling (1 ltr). The label reads "Exclusively matured in selected Oloroso and Fino Sherry oak casks from Jerez, Spain" and with this Macallan are really spoiling us...! The Elegancia had 2 previous releases (1990, 1991) and the 1992 came in the old style bottling before this edition was relased in the new style bottles (see above picture) in 2004.

Nose: Nutty; Walnuts mainly. A flutter of citrus fruit (limes) and a big toffee hit. The sherry notes add to the overal sweetness of the nose.

Palate: Brown sugar with a dash of spice, Sweet-cured bacon, a touch of orange. Lovely but a might too sweet.

Finish: The brown sugar lingers and when it leaves there is a feel of wholemeal bread with sweet butter and raisins. Very nice.

Overview: A very good dram. This is not very complex and all the character comes mostly from the mix of sherry casks. Not a problem, but it does mean this is a little too sweet for my liking. Like a very pretty lady with a lack of real personality!
- Joel

Sunday 23 March 2008

Rare Faults and Jucy Berry's

Caol Ila - 1978 / 2002 - 23 YO - Rare Malts - 61.7%

I'm a fan of Caol Ila. Yes, it is a large distillery (in Islay terms) which seems to mass produce Whisky at the behest of it's master Diageo to meet the rigours demands of the blenders, but when it knocks out some of it's single casks or indie bottlings, they can be fantastic. I very much like their OB 18 YO too, despite the over powering oilliness. It's a real corker. And there are other indie bottlings, some of which will end up on this blog, that I adore (SMS and BBR move to the front of the class, please!). But what do I want from a Caol Ila? I want juniper, fruit and honey. I want to be taken right back to a damp but sunny day looking out from the massive still room windows at the mist hanging over the tops of the paps of Jura. I want light smoke and delicate peat and I want a touch of heather and the lighest touch of salt. Not too much to ask, is it??!!

So, let's get on with reviewing this first Caol Ila, the Rare Malts 1978:

Neat: sharp, grassy, low on smok and peaty for an islay malt. A hint of black pepper, some walnuts. All a little overpowering at this strength. A little water is needed…
With water: extremely grassy and still not very smoky. A little mint and a big hit of green apples. Wow, the apples really hit home.

Neat: sweet, smooth. Grass again but overall smothered by the strength.
With water: Loads of green apples and mint, with a bitter fruitiness of fresh grapefruit.

Finish: Long, but still a little too much on green apples for my tastes.

Overview: Good, but not fantastic. Unusually low on peat for an islay, but the lovely fruits come through with a dash of water. Just too overpowering with out. Overall, grapefruit and apples are my final thoughts, but the bitterness of the grapefruit and the fruitiness of the apples is not enough in balance. Not the best Caol Ila I have ever had, but not bad either. I would have hoped for better from a 1978 Rare Malts. School report says: Must Try Harder.

Caol Ila - 1991 / 2007 - 16 YO - 53.6% - Berry Bro and Rudd - Cask No. 286

Nose: Here we go! Now that is what a Caol Ila nose is all about. Delicate smoke carries juniper and honey and a touch of that grapefruit again. Ever so delicate. A cracking nose if not a touch too weak. You wouldn't have it down as being over 50% vol. from this nose.

Palate: Honey and lavender add to the underlying juniper. A dollop of salt at first which quickly goes leaving the smoke to carry the lingering floral tones into the finish. Ahhh... now this is a Caol Ila.

Finish: a greater degree of smoke in the finish with the stregth of this cask carrying on the very light fruit notes for longer than you'd expect.

Overall: a cracker of a Caol Ila!

- Joel