Tag Archives: Kentucky Vintage

Give Thanks! Caol Ila and Dusty Bourbons

This is a quick update – I’m busy getting ready for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast. However, a quick pause is in order to give a little more color to a whisky I recommended in the Haphazard Whiskey Holiday Gift Guide. I’ve gotten a bunch of questions about the $130 sherried Caol Ila I mentioned in the import section.

It’s true, this is a really fun whisky and I’m kind of stunned it’s still available. I perhaps overstated the sherry influence; it’s there but it just adds dimension that might otherwise be lacking. The nose on it has a light smoke influence, nice orchard aromas with ripe Fuji apples, some denser red fruity notes, a little prune, some waxiness and some buttery richness.

The palate is light initially but gets that familiar oily, weighty Caol Ila presence. Some light, dry smokiness is balanced with waxy apples and gentle wood. Light, gentle peppery spice is there as is some pleasing lightly tart apple flavor.

The finish is the best part of this one. A little smokiness, slightly drying, and some nice rich fruitiness. Apple cider and some pepper zip give this heat and it’s got a lightly medicinal presence too.

It’s an immensely drinkable Caol Ila, a great show of age and a decent price.

Now, for the Dusty Bourbons. LAWS recently had a great bourbon meeting featuring all kinds of mostly dusty (really) old bourbons. Sku is covering this periodically for Dusty Thursdays and providing some more color on them. I don’t have a lot of insight to add to this one but thought I’d give general impressions. Full tasting notes on this are up at LAWS and you can compare the different opinions, which is what makes meetings like that fun.

Old Grand Dad reminded me of modern Four Roses – spicy, nicely woody but with a hint of that vanilla creaminess. Fairfax County seemed a bit marred by green woody notes. Very Old Fitzgerald – I’ve detailed a VVOF from the ’70s here. This was the weirdest SW I’ve had. A good deal darker in flavor, a little more nuance. Very interesting. As Adam says, I think Stitzel Weller dusties are a touch overrated but it was a lot of fun.

For me, the highlight was the President’s Choice, the first Brown Forman I’ve loved. I’m coming to peace with my love for easy-drinking 90 proof bourbons and this was right up that alley. Eagle Rare 101 from ’79 followed, and it was modern in profile by comparison, but just a bit dry.

Kentucky Vintage was an oddball wreck and I thought it was overoaked. It had so much wood on it that it started to almost seem peated at times – exceedingly weird. I’ve discussed Jefferson’s Ocean Aged earlier here.

There’s not much more to add; it was a fun night and worth sharing.

Update: Apparently there is something to add. David OG from K&L posted his recap of the night at the K&L Spirits Journal today. 

At a glance:

Caol Ila 1984 27y (Distilled 1-1984, Bottled 6-2011) 52.4% ABV
TheWhiskyBarrel.com Exclusive (Bottled by Douglas Laing)
Nose: 
Light influence of smoke, a nice orchard aroma with ripe Fuji apples, a little bit of denser red fruity notes, a touch of prune, lightly waxy and a touch buttery. 
Palate: 
Light initially but gaining some oily weight. Light dry smokiness balances with some waxy apple notes, a gentle wood influence. Light gentle peppery spice. Some pleasing light apple tartness as well. 
Finish:
Comment: 
Immensely drinkable, a great aged Caol Ila. The finish is really enjoyable. I wasn’t initially blown away by it, but the lighter cider notes just killed me and made me keep wanting more. That said, just a touch short of my personal A-range.  
Rating:
B+