Caol Ila SMWS 53.234 “Smoke without Fire” (Toronto Whisky Society Review Set #1)

Caol Ila SMWS 53.234 "Smoke without Fire".jpg

As part of the Toronto Whisky Society, we had a small getogether and drank our fucking faces off.

Like gentlemen and ladies and all that shit, you know? All hosted by one of our members, /u/devoz and his amazing wife.

Each of us brought a bottle to drink. And that was too many. So I understand if you take my reviews with a grain of salt. Or two.

We started, as we all should start, with a questionable whisky of lower proof and reviews that were… iffy.

Thanks to /u/charlesdobson and /u/devoz fron supplying Caol Ila SMWS 53.234 “Smoke without Fire”

One thing to note: Always, ALWAYS have your peated drams last. No matter what. Otherwise your other reviews will be screwed up.

Yes, that’s totally the reason for having this one last. Totally not because… I think I’m avoiding Caol Ilas for some reason.

Here me out before we bring out the pillory box and remove my crown.

I like peat. I am a huge peat head. However somehow, with all the Laphroaigs, rare Ardbegs, the odd Port Ellen, and the crazy amount of Octomores I’ve had recently, I don’t seem to be grabbing many Caol Ila.

I started to realize this a few weeks ago. I’ve recently swapped for some older ones as well, but I think that the kind of peat in Caol Ila, or the lack of options for me, has made me blank them out.

Thus I’m quite interested in seeing how this one stands up. It’s been awhile, maybe I just haven’t been thinking about them.

So, much like masturbating in that old way you did as a kid, I’m here to try it again, for the first time (in a long time).

Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Price: $199.99 (CAD) at SMWS selling places in Canada

Region: Islay

Outturn: 270

Date Distilled: November 1999

Age: 16 years

Cask Type Refill hogshead

Abv: 64.1%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Brine, peat, pear, rubber, smoked meat, salish, cocoa

Good amount of smoke, is what I’m saying. It’s… well, this reminds me of the Caol Ila Cask Strength. However it’s missing something.

I like the salt aspects on the nose. They add a nice dimension. However I’m getting that “It’s a 15 year old malt and hasn’t quite gotten complex” feel off the start.

Granted I’m biased against malts around this age, so keep that in mind.

Taste: Peat, black pepper, bacon, nougat, strawberry, BBQ sauce

The strawberry and BBQ sauce aspects are really nice here. Adding that richness is really, really needs to go with the sweet and peat notes.

However I think I realize why I no longer give myself the stranger, if you get my drift.

Finish: White raspberry, campfire, cinnamon, almond, malt, cherry

Love the finish. Probably the best part of the whole thing. It’s starting to develop that red fruit flavour you sometimes get from ex-Bourbon casks that I tend to really enjoy.

That said…. I really want more complexity.

Conclusion: It’s hard to complain about this one, because I feel I still really enjoy Caol Ila every so often, and this has all the elements in it that should scream “BUY ME” to my wallet until it crawls into a fetal position and cries itself to sleep.

That said, it really feels like it was pulled too soon. There are aspects that denote a growing complexity (dear fucking god that was a snotty sentence) and I want them to continue.

Young peated malts have brashness. Older ones have complexity, subtly, and surprises. This is in-between, trying to be both, and not so much doing it. The finish is the best part, because it’s really more interesting, but overall, I think this can do better.

82/100

Scotch review #514, Islay review #114, Whisky Network review #833

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