The latest from the WhiskyNerds is a Secret Islay 2008 14 Years, but it’s no secret that this is a single malt whisky distilled at Caol Ila. Just look at the highlighted initials on the label. Best of all, there’s a connection with my favourite WhiskyNerds release ever.
But before I get ahead of myself, since when has Caol Ila become one of those secret, undisclosed whiskies? It used to be that Glenfarclas was pretty much the only distillery that didn’t allow independent bottlers to use its name. Then the likes of Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Highland Park followed. Other distilleries teaspoon their single malt to protect whisky brand rights.
But Caol Ila has always been available plenty and its provenance was never a secret. Until now, I suppose. Or at least this is the first time I’ve noticed it. There may well have been earlier instances, but I suspect not many.
I’m not necessarily a fan of whiskies with unknown origins, although it sometimes helps to keep prices down (somewhat). A disclosed Ardbeg fetches much higher prices than a secret one. Anyway, independent bottlers generally find a way around such naming obstacles, as is apparent with this Secret Islay 2008 14 Years from Whisky Nerds.
Now, let’s get to the connection with an earlier release from the same bottlers. It started 5 years ago, when they had just bottled this divine Springbank 1995 23 Years from a first-fill sherry cask. However, said cask was far from tired.
And so, the cask was filled with then 10-year-old peated single malt whisky. The result, a now 14-year-old Secret Islay, was bottled in October last year and launched by the WhiskyNerds just before my Christmas break.
Secret Islay 2008 14 Years (54.4%, WhiskyNerds, C#13C)
Nose: Opening up on hints of tobacco leaves, some distant notes of sauerkraut, juicy plums and satsuma. Just a sliver of menthol, hints of savoury prosciutto and gentle wood smoke, as well as some earthy, mineral touches. Taste: Nice oily mouthfeel. There’s charcoal, a decent salinity and orange peels. Hints of chocolate truffles, dry smoke, sweet red fruits and latte macchiato too. Also some dunnage influences and leather. Finish: Long. The red fruits linger alongside bonfire smoke and charred meat.
There's clearly shared DNA with the Springbank, but crossed with some (coastal) Islay influences. Overall, it's a very good sherried Caol Ila, for more than a fair price.