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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Gettin' Dawn and Dirty...

Last night, the the South London Whisky Bloggers United Front (SLWBUF) met at a quiet location to discuss the future of all things whisky. Well, rather than a summit meeting, it was Joel and I sat around the Caskstrength dining room table with our top mate and top blogger Tim Forbes. We decided to forego any heavy talk and do what we love best, simply pouring a few excellent drams and chatting about the time we (and our much-missed American pal Darrell) sat on a deserted beach near The Machrie Golf Course on Islay, watching the sunset and finishing a whole bottle of Port Askaig 17yo between us in a little under an hour.

I suppose this is probably deemed as a 'session' in many camps. Tonight we certainly had the tools at our disposal, but alas, no sunset. So we stuck on a DVD someone had made about Islay whiskies (quite nicely shot, but pretty, shall we say... 'in depth' )

It got me thinking back to how that Port Askaig 17yo was probably the easiest drinking whisky I've ever tried. Every sip made you want another. Not in an obsessive, nutcase P***head way, but simply because it was so enjoyable and - sociable. Of course, having your 2 mates with you in some beautiful surroundings adds to the enjoyment, but everything just clicked.

Tonight we discovered 2011's version of that session whisky. It is called Moch (meaning 'Dawn') and you are going to absolutely love it.

Make no mistake, we like Caol Ila a lot. We've reviewed plenty on here. But for me, Lagavulin has always pipped it to the post in terms of what I like to get from a peated whisky. The Caol Ila Unpeated releases have always impressed too, but I kind of felt there was room for something in the middle ground between the 2. Moch has just filled that gap.

Caol Ila Moch occupies a rather apt place between the dark, brooding and powerful coal dust Caol Ilas, such as the 12yo and 18yo and the light, bright and very much awake Special Release Unpeated bottlings. The peating levels are fairly low from what I can tell and the whiskies which have gone into this are fairly young. But before you start to rant about the never ending tide of new NAS whiskies... wait and try this. It works an absolute treat.

Caol Ila - Moch - NAS - 43% - 70cl

Nose: First whiff and i'm right back on that beach, with my mates, sunset slowly emerging. It has the exact same foam banana sweets note that the Askaig has. Give it a swirl and orange and lemon fruit jellies start to appear, the merest hint of coal dust, some floral perfume (honeysuckle) and butterscotch covered popcorn. An absolute delight.

Palate: Slightly gritty at first, then straight into toffee mint humbugs, fruit sherbet and a wave of really delicate soft peat, which acts as a blanket on the tongue, as the fruity zestiness dances all over it. The next sip does the same, then the next and the next. It's consistent and totally moreish.

Finish: The peat subsides and leaves a lingering ashy note, but the only thing you can think about is having a drop more.

Overall: Let me make this clear. This is a perfect whisky for sitting round with your pals, getting a takeaway, listening to the new Arcade Fire record or, if you're anything like us, just remembering a few enjoyable, slightly misspent times on an island which has left an indelible mark on all of us. Grab, open, pour, enjoy, re-pour, enjoy some more. Easy.

Many thanks to Tim for bringing this round for us to try- you can read his tasting notes here: