If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ve likely heard of Torsten Paul Whisky Company by now. After all, he’s responsible for bottling one of the best young Caol Ila I’ve ever tried. As an encore he’s now teamed up with Roger’s Whisky Company for a collaboration slash showdown between the two of them. This is a face-off between two octave matured Caol Ila.
Both initially matured in the same ex-bourbon cask. The contents were then split between two octave casks from Bodegas Fernando de Castilla. Roger picked a first-fill Pedro Ximénez octave and also diluted his Caol Ila to 50% ABV before bottling. Torsten opted for a first-fill Oloroso octave and bottled his Caol Ila at cask strength. Let the battle commence!
Caol Ila 2008 12 Years (50%, Roger’s Whisky Company, C#318691B)
Nose: Beef jerky and charred meat with notes of sweet oranges. A gentle sea breeze too, accompanied by seaweed and a whisper of fresh rubber soles. There’s a touch of bung cloth as well, with subtler notes of red berries and smoked paprika powder. Taste: Rather creamy and salty with plenty of soot, peat and smoked meat. Also a touch of cappuccino and soft notes of nutmeg and cracked black pepper corns. Quite an earthy smokiness. Finish: Lingering for a long time. More of the above.
Caol Ila 2008 12 Years (57.7%, Torsten Paul Whisky Company, C#318691A)
Nose: Seems a little less expressive, but it might need some more time opening up because of the higher strength. Indeed, give it time and it’ll get there. Overall fairly similar, maybe a little less coastal. Dried red fruits, potato chips and barbecued meat, but also smoked cherry syrup. Some mineral touches as well, like wet pebbles. Taste: This is where the higher ABV shows, as the arrival is quite spicy and somewhat aggressive comparatively. Plenty of tar, charcoal and a touch of rubber, but also charred meat and dried red fruits. Finally some notes of ginger. Finish: Spicy and BBQ-esque. Long.
If you’re into Caol Ila and don’t mind the pressure cooker effect an octave cask can have, you’ll not soon regret buying either of these. Simply put, these are excellent whiskies and the octaves certainly added a different dimension. Both whiskies are pretty similar in many respects. Any variation between the two I would mostly subscribe to the different ABVs.
Am I convinced the extra maturation in octaves actually improved the Caol Ila? Not really. It’s hard to beat naked, ex-bourbon matured Caol Ila. I’m also not saying the spirit was better before Torsten and Roger decided to re-rack the cask into sherry octaves. It was probably different, and I suspect very much a personal affair whether you’d prefer the pre-octave single malt or the actual whisky that was bottled by Roger and Torsten Paul. I’d have loved to do have done a compare and contrast.
Having said that, I think a congratulations are in order to Roger for a very tasty first ever release. Also a big thanks to both Roger and Torsten Paul for trusting me with review samples of their releases.