Thanks to /u/nofansky for the sample via /r/ScotchSwap on reddit.
This is the Distiller’s Edition of Diageo’s Islay workhorse malt. For those who don’t recall, the Distiller’s Editions are special versions of Diageo’s classic malts which have gone through some kind of special finish to differentiate them from the standard bottlings. This version has been “Double Matured” (the term is usually used instead of “finished” when the period spent in the finishing casks is quite long but no details available so who knows) using Moscatel casks.
I had some of this with a friend a few years ago and have been wanting to sit down and take some proper notes on it for quite some time as I found it quite interesting and am quite fond of Caol Ila in general. Unfortunately the local importer for Diageo’s whiskies where I am has seen fit to price it at 800 shekels (around US$210), because reasons. This is almost 3 times the price of the standard 12 year old Caol Ila, but what really boggles my mind is that it’s double the price of the Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition which is matured for 4 years more. I have no idea what the logic is here, but as is I won’t be buying a bottle.
Lucky I got this sample then.
Aged 12 years. 43% ABV
Nose: Ashy fruit. Waxy orange peels.Lychee. Asian pears. Raspberry sherbet. A slight sulfury note. Coal dust. Wet stones in the sun. Something dusty. The intensity of the smoky and ashy notes gets a little stronger with some glass time.
Palate: Ash. Bitter pears. Bitter wood. Syrup from canned fruit salad. Slightly grassy, slightly malty. Sage. Custard. New motor oil.
Finish: Medium. Lingering bitterness from the palate, creamy vanilla porridge with some wood smoke, and finally a flair of motor oil and ginger.
Would I buy this: Yes
Would I order this in a bar: Yes
Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes
VFM: 3/5 (Global average)
I really enjoyed this dram. I like most of the Distiller’s editions, especially the peaty ones but sometimes they only add a narrow level of character to the whisky, whereas with this it adds quite an interesting dimension with the sticky sweet Moscatel mixing quite well with Caol Ila’s ashy and light fruity character.
It only really suffers from chill filtration which I think prevents some of the nicer notes on the nose from carrying through to the palate and finish which would have evened out the bitterness a little.