My end of year ramblings by Andrew Nelstrop of the English Whisky Company


Well what a year…

It is that time of year again when I am asked to write a few lines about the year that was 2018…oh and what a year.

At the beginning of the year Jim Murray voted “The Norfolk – Parched” best single malt whisky in Europe (the 4th time we have won the accolade). A lovely start to 2018 – well done the distillers David and Steve.

This exciting win was closely followed by Breckland Lodge, the lovely hotel owned by my wife’s family, burning to the ground, caused by a little over zealous use of a blow torch by one of the roofing contractors. The devastation was complete. Standing watching the flames with nearly 100 staff, who of course had very real concerns for their future was a moment I shall never forget.

In March it snowed and then it snowed some more. I learned a lot about staff loyalty over those few days. On day 2 of the snow, the first waitress to arrive had walked 3 hard miles to get to work; it is moments like that that you realise what a great crew you have working for you. Excitingly the big Land Rover was put into action ferrying staff around for a couple of days after this, so the walk didn’t have to be repeated.

In April, the youngest member of the family, Alfred, turned two. His birthday is on April 1st and there are times one feels he is trying hard to ensure we remember he was born on April Fools day – he is already proving to be the joker in the family! A note to all – don’t wait until your forties to have children, I swear I’m too old for the job some days! J

May saw the Royal wedding, which seemed to cheer the nation up quite a bit and we got to release one of our rare Royal bottlings. Once again it sold out rather quickly. I am always tempted to do more but get reined in by our distiller, who rightly thinks it is better that a limited edition is very limited. Whilst the big 5 drinks companies seem happy to have 50,000 bottles in a limited edition, we think a tenth of this is probably closer to the public’s perception of limited. Your thoughts on a postcard please.

June is a good month at the distillery, the lawn between the distillery and the restaurant is filled up with visitors most days and the 10 acres of walks down to the river start to get used in earnest. It is lovely to see so many visitors using the place. My mother’s retirement project is the development of these acres into an interesting and pleasant place to play. With this in mind, more sculptures have been installed, lots of new trees have been planted and more areas are now mowed to allow picnic space etc. Whilst we don’t allow dogs in the restaurant, we do allow them on the lawns and river walk and in the outside seating areas.

July always seems to be a quiet month in the world of whisky, so time is spent planning new projects – and this year’s was the building of Warehouse 4. Space for another 4000 casks of whisky.. All a bit of a rush to see if we can get a grant out of Europe before the door is shut permanently. The design looks good and the planning department seem enthusiastic – phew.

August resulted in one of my more surreal moments. I visited Stringfellows to discuss our whisky, having met the owner a few weeks earlier. Rather too sensibly I visited before opening time. So, sitting in the famous gold throne drinking a mug of tea with Scott Stringfellow and his lovely mum I got to watch the first act of the night. I am not sure drinking tea with someone’s mum is how everyone experiences Stringfellow, especially as I didn’t know where to look most of the time. A night I shall not forget.

September and it is back to work in earnest with export markets growing and an extraordinary growth in enthusiasm for our Nog and PX. I already know we aren’t going to have enough to make it to Christmas – this is a nice problem. It is also the anniversary of The Kitchen, our distillery restaurant. We celebrated by handing over the kitchen to the famous chef Richard Bainbridge and his crew who cooked a superb meal for our members and other guests. Richard did an amazing job resulting in a great night for all.

October: We sadly have to say goodbye to Julian, who has commendably run the new shop and restaurant since it was built. We wish him well in his new role and welcome Lee to take over and hopefully do the job so well, I feel redundant. Mike our head of Sales has done a great job this year and this month we see orders going to most corners of the globe, as well as increasing sales in the UK. Please do email us if your local wine / booze shop doesn’t stock our whisky. We will try to make it happen.

November: Wow – Christmas has started already. Web orders quietly ramp up and by the middle of November you are all proving to be very loyal customers – thank you. Most days we have 2 people just packing orders. The Christmas decorations go up and the nights draw in. I like this time of year as I get to light the fire in the evenings and mow the lawn less often. Breckland Lodge re-opened this month, completely re-built and lovelier than ever, what a relief; definitely worth a visit if you need somewhere to stay or eat locally.

December – here we are again, kids only have a few days left of school and the online orders are slowing down. Christmas parties are happening in the restaurant and there is a sense of relief and jubilation that the year has gone by without too many snags. Oh and you won’t believe it but the Jim Murray voted The Norfolk – Farmers best single malt whisky in Europe for 2019. The 5th time we have won!

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting us and to wish you a Merry Christmas.


Andrew Nelstrop


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Peat’s Beast 25 Year Old

Peat’s Beast Twenty Five is a 25 year-old single malt whisky from Islay, produced by an undisclosed distillery. The company Fox Fitzgerald, established in 2010, is behind this brand – they also have the Rest Be Thankful series among others.



Peat's Beast 25 Year OldPeat's Beast 25 Year OldPeat’s Beast 25 yo
(52,2%, Fox Fitzgerald 2017, 3000 btl.)

Nose: quite intense notes of tarry ropes and iodine, with creosote, subtle brine and black peppercorns. A little smoked ham and fresh hints of menthol and sea spray. In the background there is also a soft fruity theme, on apricots and lemons. Great depth and complexity. Mouth: big peaty notes (certainly given the age) in a very medicinal style. Plenty of antiseptics, ashes, olive brine and smoked sardines. Some mature oak spices add extra punch. Linseed oil. Dried seaweed. Still a light fruitiness (peaches, grapefruits) in the background. Finish: long, on pepper, hints of cocoa, gentian and tar.

A beautiful beast I must say, it combines intense Islay flavours in a rather elegant way. The intensity and medicinal flavour profile lead us towards Ardbeg… or maybe Laphroaig, which in any case makes the price quite reasonable. Recommended. Available from Master of Malt.

Score: 90/100

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Johnnie Walker: The Gift to Give Since 1820 at The Whisky Shop – Scotch Whisky News


From a tea blender in Kilmarnock to a global phenomenon, Johnnie Walker and the iconic Striding Man is a symbol of quality Scotch Whisky the world over. Discover the range at The Whisky Shop today.

Unique | Different | Interesting

John Walker Sons
Private Edition 2018: The Midnight Blend


This fifth and final release in the John Walker Sons Private Collection has been created with whiskies aged at least 28 years from distilleries including Cambus, Strathmillon, Caol Ila and Clynelish for a rich and warming whisky, limited to just 3,888 bottles.

The nose has rich citrus and toffee to the fore, with Islay smoke and vanilla emerging slowly. The palate has creamy vanilla and butterscotch with tropical and fresh fruit notes, before a long, sweet and warming finish with hints of spice.

£650 Buy Now

Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch
Directors Edition 2016


Limited to just 501 sets, this collection of two 50cl bottles features Blenders’ Batch Experiments #5 and #6, entitled Major Peat and Bacchus respectively.

Major Peat has Island smokiness from Talisker and Caol Ila combined with smooth grain from Cameronbridge and Port Dundas, giving ripe autumnal fruit flavours and a vanilla sweetness. The Bacchus has delicate layers of Speyside fruitiness from Roseisle matured in wine casks, married with aged grain whiskies to give a sweet honey vanilla flavour.

£2,995 Buy Now

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Good Dram Show – Episode 294 ‘Springbank & Glengyle’ – Scotch Whisky News

Chris Goodrum

The Good Dram Show – Episode 294 ‘Springbank Glengyle’ – Welcome to the last episode of the show for 2018 and we’re going out with a bang! This week features some new releases from both Springbank and Glengyle, along with the first review of the yet to be released Kilkerran Heavily Peated.

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New: Compass Box No Name N°2 // The XL Blend // Tormore 1988 First Editions

Compass Box No Name No.2

Compass Box No Name No.2

Compass Box No Name No.2 is the second edition where Compass Box lets the whisky speak for itself.

It’s a comination of 75% Caol Ila from refill sherry butts, 11% of Talisker and 13% of Clynelish, both from rejuvenated hogsheads, and just a dash of the trademark CB Highland whisky mix. They say it is a bigger peat beast than their Peat Monster…

They will release 8436 bottles at 48.9% ABV from February 2019.



The XL Blend 40 Years

The XL Blend 40 Years

The XL Blend is a 40 years old blended Scotch (XL is 40 in Roman numerals). The younger brother of the Half-Century Blend by the same bottlers.

Available from Master of Malt (soon) and you can expect my review as well. I must say it is quite exceptional.



Tormore 1988 First Editions - TWB Exclusive

Tormore 1988 First Editions - TWB Exclusive

The Whisky Barrel announced a last exclusive release for 2018: a Tormore 30 Year Old 1988 bottled in the First Editions series (Hunter Laing).

Bottled from a refill hogshead, only 144 bottles are available at cask strength 45.8% ABV. The price is quite fair as well. Available from TWB.



Also interesting

Things that may not have been widely announced but that grabbed my attention in shops recently…

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The Whisky Exchange Christmas Novelties – Whisky News

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Christmas Novelties

Ahhh, Christmas: a time for family, food, good cheer and annoying singing Santa… ornaments? Are they ornamental? Are they toys? Singing Santas, anyway. And somehow all the silliness only contributes to the overall atmosphere of loveliness. It’s like being hugged (hygged?) by the world.

Christmas is also a time for great drinks. We gift them to each other, we get them in specially and we drink them together. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the silliest and festive-est bottles we could find to help you get the absolute most out of your Christmas drinking. Brace yourselves…


Glenfarclas with bobble hat

Buy now

We’ll ease you in gently. While not necessarily festive per se, nothing screams cosy like sherry-aged single malt and a good woolly hat. We’re running with it, so there.


Maker’s Mark in Christmas Jumper

Buy now

Yes, you did read that correctly, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. A bottle of Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky, swaddled in an appropriately stylish – and presumably very itchy – Christmas jumper, complete with ABV. Because nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like properly-observed European labelling standards. No, seriously – they make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.


Big Peat Christmas Edition

Buy now

The illustrated personification of flavour himself comes storming back in his whiskyful sleigh, bringing with him another edition of the perennially (obviously) popular, cask-strength, Christmas cheer-inducing dram.


Spey Chairman’s Choice – Merry Christmas 2014

Buy now

Looking for something a little more sensible? This Speyside single malt whisky follows in the tradition of the Chairman’s Choice, whereby the Chairman of the company would select the best casks to share with his family on Christmas day. A quality dram we’d be proud to pour post-turkey.

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The Party Source Christmas Presents! – Scotch Whisky News


The holidays are about enjoying the moments. Through the hectic chaos of shopping, holiday dinners, and family get-togethers, don’t forget to take a minute for you. Here are a couple of spirits that will keep you in the spirit as you recharge throughout the Holidays.

KILCHOMAN MACHIR BAY Single Malt Scotch Private Barrel

Reg $64.99 | Sale $62.99
Established in 2005, one of Islay’s newest distilleries is also known as Islay’s Farm Distillery.  Their 100% Islay range is Scotland’s only single malt produced from barley both grown and malted on Islay, using only local, traditionally cut peat.  This collaborative vatting of Machir Bay utilizes a high proportion of bourbon barrels (85%) to sherry cask (15%) influence, creating a very special union of tropical fruitiness and aromatic smokiness.

COMPASS BOX Blended Whiskies

Compass Box is one of those rogue bottlers and producers that blend Scotch Whiskies. Whether on purpose or by accident Compass Box continues to set the bar to new heights. They are great blenders with an eye looking forward, but they always have one steady foot firmly planted in the past and rooted in tradition. If you are looking to get started in the Scotch category, Compass Box is a great way to begin. Similarly, if you’re looking to freshen up your glass with something unique and artfully done, Compass Box has a complete line with a wide variety that will hit your palate in just the right place.
95 Riviera Drive, Bellevue, KY 41073
 (859) 291-4007

AA Party Source

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Single Cask Nation Joins the ImpEx Family! – Scotch Whisky News


Single Cask Nation Joins the ImpEx Family!

ImpEx Beverages is proud to announce that it will be representing Single Cask Nation .. Nationwide!

ImpEx has a proven track record of supporting great independent bottlers such as Chapter 7, Port Askaig and Exclusive Malts, and now Single Cask Nation joins our family of exquisite single cask picks for you to savor.

“I’m delighted that I get to work with Joshua Hatton and Jason Johnstone-Yellin.  These guys not only make excellent cask selections and are passionate about all things whisky, as evidenced in their podcast – One Nation Under Whisky.  In addition, they’re both amazing people with great heart, honesty and honor, and with their help I’m looking forward to bringing top-tier spirits to our fans for years.”  ~ Sam Filmus, President of ImpEx Beverages

“As you can imagine, we’re incredibly excited by this latest development and there will be plenty more single cask offerings in 2019!” writes Joshua Hatton, President and CEO of Single Cask Nation.

In the meantime, check out the first three expressions:


Craigellachie 10 Year – 67.3%

Color: White tea

Nose: Opens with a pungent thick peat reek but in time a sweetness develops with candy necklaces and pear drop hard candies, then a brininess that also includes ground grey pepper (unmistakable cask presence)

Palate: Meaty and juicy upon entry with warm malted barley, powdered confectioner’s sugar, a burst of ground clove, Garibaldi biscuits, and distinct barrel char!

Finish: Long and warming with lingering barrel char, dark chocolate with sea salt, more confectioner’s sugar, and damp oak

On the label: Known for it’s typically heavy style of whisky, this Craigellachie falls right into line. Its departure, however, is in the heavily peated character of this spirit. Dank and pungent with earthy smoke, however, don’t fret, rich fruits, an oily mouthfeel, and a bread-like malty backbone remain.


Macduff 13 Year – 57.2%

Color: Bronze

Nose: Big funky sherry at first blush but opens to reveal frozen chocolate covered bananas to the fore, brown Licorice All-Sorts, grilled apricots, angel food cake in the background, sticky sweet molasses, sherry spice

Palate: That delicious sherry funk returns but now with clean dishwashing gloves ultimately giving way to coffee ice cream with chocolate covered almonds, hints of sweet BBQ sauce

Finish: Sassafras leaves and cold coffee with dark chocolate nibs

On the label: A bit of old sherry cask funk upon opening but quickly gets chocolatey. Nutty, and fruity. Notes of sticky molasses, coffee ice cream, and sweet barbecue sauce help make this cask a beguiling one, to be sure!


Stones Of Stenness 18 Year Old – 54.8%

Color: White Tea

Nose: Pleasing light peat to open followed by a slight medicinal note, linen closets, honey drizzled over fresh cantaloupe, roasted hazelnuts, and lit tinder sticks

Palate: Floral smoke with hints of grass and cereal with a building vegetal quality, dried mangoes and melons, cask char mid palate, beach stones, pleasantly salty

Finish: White chocolate, sea salt, ground grey pepper

On the label: A perfect balance between lightly peated malt and a rich melon-like fruitiness. Quite different from the distillery’s offering of the same age. The ex-bourbon maturation allows a different side of the distillery’s house style to shine through.

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Wemyss Malts Christmas offers! – Scotch Whisky News


Still searching for the perfect gift? Left your shopping to the last minute?
Don’t worry, Wemyss Malts has you covered!

There are only a few days left to get your orders in for shipping in time for Christmas, order by the 12pm on the 20th December to ensure delivery!

Not only are we offering free shipping till the 20th December, but we have also discounted one of our ‘From the Wemyss Archive’ collections!

Head over to our web-store on the Kingsbarns Distillery Website to purchase now!

Shop Now


We have taken a huge £100 off our Single Cask Collection ‘Smokey Treats’!

Six smokey bottlings, five from Islay and one from the Highlands unveil the complexities and multiples styles of peated whisky. Containing; Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Croftengea and Bowmore this really is a special collection of treats!

Buy Now!

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Incredible and Limited Mature Scotch Exclusives from Iconic Distilleries at K&L California – Scotch Whisky News


Incredible and Limited Mature Scotch Exclusives from Iconic Distilleries

The experience of enjoying extremely well aged Islay whisky is one you’ll never forget, a rite of passage for any serious Scotch lover, and no bottler will offer such a spectacular experience and value for your dollar than our “Old Particular” line. Every year we peer deep into the Scottish warehouses to find something unprecedented to bring back to our customers. Often, however, the very best isn’t unearthed, it is awarded. We’re extremely lucky to have built trusted relationships with our vendors over the years. Indeed it is thanks to our loyal customers that we’re afforded the incredible accesses that we do have. And when we inquire about what special malts might be hiding in the old warehouses at Douglas Laing, we are offered a plethora of rare casks. Often due to their incredible rarity, the price outweighs their potential viability, but on occasion, our suppliers bestow us with casks so special rare and delicious we must consider them. And even in those cases, a rare cask requires a value judgment. But when we see similar independently bottled single casks and distillery bottlings on the market for 200-300% more than what we are offering, we know we’re onto something.

That’s exactly what we’re looking at here. Two ultra rare Islays in completely different styles, aged beyond anything readily available on the market today. The first from the gorgeous Bunnahabhain near Port Askaig was distilled over 30 years ago. This unpeated Islay is still distinctly of that magical place and its 30 years in a refill sherry butt make it one of the most intriguing and unique casks we’ve ever bottled. The distillery offers a 25 year that pales in comparison to the depths of this cask, which often fetches upwards of $700.

The second is our old friend Caol Ila. The other distillery on the northern shore of Islay is one of the most underappreciated distilleries available today. We’ve had great success previously with old casks from this legendary distiller, but each additional year that goes by makes these old stocks more and more prized. The distillery’s 35 Year Old offerings command upward of $1000. The prices aren’t low, but the value is high.


1988 Bunnahabhain 30 Year Old “Old Particular” KL Exclusive Single Refill Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($275.00)

Bunnahabhain whisky is a perfect fit for refill sherry maturation, and especially for long-term aging. And 30 years is a perfect age for any Scotch, especially from one of the world’s great distilleries. $275 is an absurdly low price for these two things in combination. In short, this opportunity was too good to pass up. This is as good as whisky gets, in our opinion. It’s dark, rich, and loaded with complexity. The unpeated, slightly saline and very full nature of Bunnahabhain plays perfectly with the refilled sherry butt. Over 30 long years, the whisky naturally proofed itself down to 44.5% ABV — a delightful bit of perfection for drinking neat. It’s rare that you taste something so special that everything around you drops away and time seems to stop. This is that whisky. Consider that the distillery’s 25-year bottling will easily run you $600 bucks or more, and the $275 for this 30-year cask feels like a gift. In fact, it’s the perfect gift to give your dearest friends and maybe even get a second one for yourself.

David Othenin-Girard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 12, 2018

Few whiskies will match the majestic complexity of old Bunnah in sherry. The fact that it’s in second fill makes it that much more special. Imagine where this butt might have been 18 years before it was filled a second time in 1988—probably in some old bodega’s oloroso solera dating back decades. So a refill cask from the ‘80s was likely originally coopered sometime around the First World War. The nearly century long journey of that barrel to our supplier’s warehouse and eventually to your glass makes this bottle particularly interesting. But ultimately, it’s the destination that makes it truly special. The otherworldly flavors that emanate from the glass are completely bewitching. A complex stew of dark fruit, exotic woods (particularly sandalwood and mahogany), burnt orange peel and this wonderful strange exotic salt. The palate is rich but not stewed or thick. Tons of bold spice and no bitterness even after 30 years. The lowish proof feels somehow like a benefit for once, but DO NOT add water as it’s in perfect balance right out of the bottle – a drop of water creates an interesting change in the nose but breaks the delicate palate. A truly distinguished old Islay unlike any other we’ve ever sold and not likely to be repeated ever again.

Andrew Whiteley | KL Staff Member | Review Date: November 30, 2018

Unquestionably one of the finest bottles we have ever sold. The specs are flawless. The price, while high, is an absolute steal. The deep mahogany color entrances you from the get-go. You don’t even have to lift the glass to your nose to be hit with the sweet smell of cream, roasted pecans, caramelized sugar, and a faint sherry rancio note. Dive in and the full sensual glory of toffee, apple pie, and caramels fills you with joy. After you come to, you might lift the glass to your mouth and let the richness of the spirit roll over your tongue. An ever-changing array of sweet fruits, damp earth, fresh cream butter, rancio, chocolate, brandied pears cascades down your palate. The finish is dry and spicy with the sweetness of flamed orange peel lingering behind. It’s long and clean, endlessly pleasant and certainly of a quality you will not forget.

Jeffrey Jones | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 06, 2018

A mature single malt that is lively and drinking well now. The nose is rich and full with sweet floral and dried fruit aromas. In the mouth it is a delicious nectar with rich malt and dried fruit flavors that are mouth-filling. There is a long finish. It was perfect without added water.

Neal Fischer | KL Staff Member | Review Date: November 30, 2018

The nose is so floral, spicy, and heady! There’s lavender, lily, and lilac with clove and cardamom pods creating a very deep potpourri aroma verging on burning incense intensity. It also possesses aromas of toasted and candied nuts baking in butter. The ocean brine flavors here will be welcomed by any fan of Bunnahabhain (or other classic island Scotches for that matter). The palate gets dessert-oriented with the candied nuts showing up big, followed by flavors of apple pie and saltwater taffy. As sugar-oriented as it seems initially, when this Scotch moves into its final stages there’s bold leather, herbaceous notes, and brine as it ends very, very dry.

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1984 Caol Ila 34 Year Old “Old Particular” KL Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($375.00)

No distillery is more representative of the state of the Scotch industry than this bewitching peater on the northern coast of Islay. The excellent shoreside stills have dutifully cranked out unbelievably delicious peated whisky since 1846, but it wasn’t until the malt floors were closed and the distillery began buying barley from the Port Ellen maltings that the current house style truly solidified. Caol Ila is known for their 12 Year Old in the US, but a huge majority of the spirit gets blended into the Johnnie Walker line. While the line has become slightly more available in the last few years, it still remains pretty elusive, especially in a significantly aged form. The last distillery on Islay where ultra-mature stocks are not in the $1,000 range, but they probably deserve to be. The spirit is impeccable and easily one of the most undervalued malts in Scotland. Oftentimes when we lament the loss of the old great peater Port Ellen, we’re reminded how lucky we are to have the beautiful beast that sits just north of Port Askaig. A 34 Year Old PE would easily cost you $1,500. Of course, whiskies of that age are always extremely rare, but this Caol Ila represents some of the most valuable stocks. The standard 30 Year Old, which is not available in the US, easily fetches over $500 in Europe. This single cask, nearly a half decade older than that, offers one of the best values for old Islay anywhere in the world. Absolutely no old peater offers as much luxury for your dollar.

David Othenin-Girard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 12, 2018

I literally said the words, “holy sh*t” under my breath when I first tasted this special cask. Now we’re no strangers to old Caol Ila—in fact we seek it out like blood hounds. Why? Because it’s one of the only old Islay heavy hitters that has been available at semi-reasonable prices. Well, at least up until now. All but this one very special source have dried up or are becoming so prohibitively expensive that they effectively don’t exist in our world. It’s true that last year we bottled a sister cask to this one and for $25, but this whisky is in a whole other league. That’s not to imply that last year’s special whisky was a slouch by any means and the appreciation this year is relatively minimal compared to other casks. Stocks similar to the ’83 Signatory 30 year we bottled 5 years ago (retail $300) would now retail for at least $1000. Old bottles from that same period are still selling around the world for around $700. If you’re lucky you might find the bottler’s current release in Europe for $500+ and if the distillery releases a 35 Year, it will command upwards of $1000 as well. But this whisky is more than just a good deal. It’s an absolute star. The first moment the whisky hits your glass you’re blasted with massive billowing smoke. As it aerates it begins to offer some more nuance—lemon skins scorched in a pile of burning spices, the embers of a fire on an Islay beach—the smells of the bay, dried seaweed, and fresh peat burning in homes over the hill. On the palate this thing just about cuts you in half. Sooty bold peat, oyster shell, brine, tangy lemon rind, ashen embers of expensive incense. The finish is long and lingering. Too long to calculate as it forces another sip. Normally I’d recommend avoiding water on something this old, but the beast can handle it. With just the tiniest drop of water, the whole package coalesces. Salted fruits, cured meats, smoked salty fish, high end nori, sweet Meyer lemon. On the palate the water actually brings the oily texture out, revealing an almost thick mouth feel that coats every taste bud and drowns it in sooty sea spray and sweet citrus. An absolute star that probably deserves to be much more expensive, but I hesitate to anoint it with the term “value.” Just too good to be ignored.

Andrew Whiteley | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 01, 2018

“Buried how long?” Almost 35 years. “You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?” “Long ago.” My personal tastes for whisky have changed dramatically over the years. I’ve at times found myself going gaga over loaded sherry bombs, exalting the finesse of delicate drams, and seeking out the peatiest of peatys. One thing that has been a constant over the last decade of my Scotch drinking life is my affection for well-aged smoke. As heavily peated spirits age the intensity of the smoke falls away into richness and body. It’s a particular and special characteristic that cannot be counterfeit or short cut. This specimen is a perfect example of why it is so compelling. I’m not saying this isn’t a smoky whisky, it certainly is. It’s just also so much more than that. The smoke has become a rich and oily slip’n’slide of flavor. There is a slight brine characteristic to it, not iodine, but a lighter kind of salinity. Sweet malt marries perfectly with a bit of tangy BBQ sauce. The freshness of fruit, once readily apparent in this whisky’s younger days has developed into a rich tapestry of salted and cured fruits. A refilled hogshead was undoubtedly the perfect vessel for this whisky, tame enough to stand up to many long seasons in the warehouse, and rich enough to make sure that this whiskey, after many long years in darkness would be “recalled to life.”

Jackson Lee | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 06, 2018

As a casual drinker of Caol Ila, I was very much looking forward to trying this dram and it didn’t disappoint. Classic Caol Ila honeyed smoke on the nose, much like a slow smoked honey ham, followed by a little peat, green apple, and sweet soy sauce at the end. The palate mirrored the smoked honey note I got on the nose but also included pencil shavings, charred strawberry, and a hint of brine. That brine became more noticeable throughout the finish, pairing with a sweet note that reminded me of salted caramel just not quite as….caramel-y; add wood and a nice fruity note and it’s a wrap!


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