Distilled 1997, bottled 2012. Just under 6000 bottles on the market.
This is the annual unpeated cask strength release from Islays most producing distillery. The fact that it’s unpeated is quite special for an Islay distillery but whats really special is that it’s matured in ex-sherry casks, it’s quite hard to come by sherried caol ila.
Nose, malty, liqourice, pancakes drenched in maplesyrup, barny hay notes, raspberry camphor and finally some earthy notes with burnt grass. With water I’m picking up some tea, old furniture. All in all it’s more creamy with the addition of water. You should be careful though, it doesn’t need a lot even though it’s at 59.3abv. Hints of sweet peas coming through with a bit wood, sawdust and corn on a barbeque. After a while there’s even a very weird and subtle hint of wok and eggnoodles.
On the palate, BIG malt with salty and briny aftertaste. Licourice here as well but more of the salty kind. Subtle smoke, starts of sweet then turns quite bitter and dry. With water added, more bitterness, reminds me of a heavy stout almost. Overbrewed tea, chillipepper, cocoa, a bit floral notes after a while. Rosewater? Less brine, more seasalt. Dry, long finish with hints of espresso.
A fun malt to try, with a lot of complexity. Money well spent!