Caol Ila 2004 13 Years Old Hermitage Finish (Gordon & MacPhail)
Providing you love whisky, and don’t live under a rock, you must’ve heard about Gordon & MacPhail’s revamp of their Connoisseurs Choice range. You didn’t?! Well, read this first, and come back after you’re finished.
Today I’ll take a closer look at one of the first of three new bottlings from the new Connoisseurs Choice range. Then the other two will follow on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. Finishing whisky isn’t a new practice for Gordon & MacPhail, by any means. In the past however, they used to sell these under their Private Collection label: individual casks selected by the directors of the company.
In an attempt to make their range of whiskies more clear and less confusing for consumers, finished whiskies are now officially also part of the Connoisseurs Choice collection. One such whisky is the Caol Ila 2004 13 Years Old Hermitage Finish. Now I know that’s a wine finish, but I’m no wine expert, so here’s what Wikipedia says:
Hermitage is a French wine Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the northern Rhône wine region of France south of Lyon. It produces mostly red wine from the Syrah grape; however, small quantities of white wine are also produced from Roussane and Marsanne grapes.
You’re welcome, now you don’t have to google that yourself…
Caol Ila 2004 13 Years Old Hermitage Finish (45%, Gordon & MacPhail)
Nose: Very meaty and barbecue-esque. Like roasting a good piece of meat on a bonfire. There’s some orange blossom here as well, and a hint of raspberry. Yes, it has a hint of sulphur, but really only very slightly. It actually adds a layer of complexity here, if you ask me. Which it can use, as it isn’t the most complex nose. Well-integrated and delicious though.
Taste: We’re taking a step down here, as it lacks a little power. It showcases the same meatiness though. Some struck matches here, as well as some smoke and peat, and hints of strawberry and black berries.
Finish: Lingering chocolate and peat smoke.
The palate of this Caol Ila has that sort of wine-y oiliness (sorry for a lack of a better description) that you often encounter in these wine matured/finished whiskies. It makes it a little less attractive to me. To me there’s a big discrepancy between the nose (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and the palate (less so).
Sample provided by Gordon & MacPhail
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.