Caol Ila 9-year-old Small Batch (Dalgety)



Long-term readers of the blog will be aware that I like to spend some time delving into the history and folklore that surrounds Scotland and its distileries. However, sometimes my schedule gets a little congested and rather than stop the reviews altogether I shorten the format a little and cut straight to the point. This will be another of those quick-hit reviews. if you want to know more about the distillery or the bottler, there are links below.

Dalgety is an independent bottling label from the team at Hannah Whisky Merchants (Lady of the Glen). The spirit was distilled at Caol Ila on the isle of Islay and was matured for a total of 9 years with around 24 months spent in an ex-Amarone Italian red wine barrique. This is a vatting of two casks with an outturn of around 404 bottles. Bottled at 50.5% ABV.

Smell: The first impression feels like sticking your nose in a jar of raspberry jam whilst sitting by a campfire. There’s smoke and ash and black pepper. Red liquorice. Blackcurrant. A little malty too with some honey and a touch of lemon.

Taste: Raspberry and blackcurrant. Cherry cola. Charcoal and tar. Lots of oak tannis towards the back. Bitter dark chocolate. The smoke is actually quite subdued. Interesting finish – it almost evaporates off the tongue, leaving a dry finish with distant, lingering smoke and retronasal aromas of salty driftwood!

Thoughts: The world is not short of independently bottled Caol Ila but it’s a whisky that takes well to different finishing casks and this Dalgety bottling is quite unusual. The smoke has dulled, particularly on the palate and what’s left is an interesting combination of sweet, sugary fruits and dry tannic oak. The Amarone is a big old wine but thankfully, there are a few reminders: a wee bit of saltiness here, a bit of brine there, that keep the experience rooted in Islay but it very much feels like a new interpretation of this well known whisky. To be fair, it’s also bloody delicious. Maybe it might disappoint if you’re looking for an explosion of peat but if you’re well versed in Islay malts, this will be a fun new spin on the genre.

Price: £70. Islay malts don’t come cheap. It’s one of the great tragedies of our time. By current standards, £70 is probably pretty decent for such a good Caol Ila.

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