Caol Ila SMWS 53.216 “BBQ in pine-clad dunes”

SMWS 53.216 2.jpg

Thanks to /u/xile_ for this one.

One of the odd things about my review history is that, while I’ve done a few Caol Ilas, I haven’t done many older ones. So much so, I completely had forgotten that I had reviewed a 22 year old IB one until starting to write this.

As such, I thought that Caol Ila SMWS 53.216 “BBQ in pine-clad dunes” was the oldest Caol Ila I’ve reviewed while drinking it. I was incorrect, and now at a lost for what to say.

Uh…. shit.

I will say this: I tend to enjoy high strength Caol Ilas at a younger age. So while I’m excited to try older Caol Ilas, or different cask types, I’m not 100% that I’m going to love this. Or if this will change my mind.

It’s an unknown. Which is nice, because other distilleries almost seem like an open book to me (see: Ardbeg and Port Ellen).

So let’s see if this one changes my mind or not.

SMWS 53.216 1.jpg

Price: Sold Out

Region: Islay

Vintage: July 1993

Age: 21 years

Cask Type: Refill sherry butt

Outturn: 597

Abv: 60.6%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Orange smoke, butter, tobacco, sage, raspberry cocoa, pineapple, custard, medicine

The peat and the sherry has mixed nicely. A lot of the notes are intermingled quite well. I can’t separate the orange from the smoke, for instance.

Given some time there’s medicinal and custard flavours that evolve out of this one.

Taste: Pear, tobacco, Demerara sugar, lemon green tea, salty jerky, butter

More tobacco on the taste. Initially that’s all I taste, as well as the pear. No alcohol burn, even given the high proof. Seems the angels didn’t steal too much, given the size, outturn, and high alcohol content.

This is starting to have some odd flavours. Specific, interesting, and unique flavours. Nothing insane, and nothing that didn’t match well with the rest. Nice combination of flavours.

Finish: Basil, cinnamon, dry pear, brine, ginger ale, cashew chicken, peach

Very dry at the end. The taste was dry, but the end is very dry. However I’m not annoyed by it. It’s the right finish, I feel. Sure, it’s heavily balanced on dry. And that’s a minus. But I liked it, given there’s some fruit elements.

Conclusion: A nice dram all around. It’s some time away from a really high complexity, however the taste and nose show what Caol Ila can really achieve. I’m quite impressed with this. The sherry hasn’t overpowered anything, but rather added nice fruit and earth elements, which, as usual, pairs well with peated malts.

Wish I had bought a bottle of this one….

87/100

Scotch review #537, Islay review #121, Whisky Network review #892

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