Review 2017-052 «Specifics» Single malt • Elements of Islay • Vintage ±1995 • Bottled in 2014 • 58.5% Alcohol • Matured for ±19 years in a single refill butts • Non-chill filtered • Natural coloured • Sourced from Caol Ila (Islay, Scotland) • Speciality Drinks Ltd (now Elixir Distillers) • London • United Kingdom • Limited availability (undisclosed number of bottles) • Hard to find (price ±€100) • Whiskybase #58557
STORY. The series of Elements of Islay is released by Speciality Drinks/Elixir Distillers, a sub company of The Whisky Exchange, to portray the different aspects of the most element of Islay, which is of course peat. Striking features of this series are the chemical bottle look-a-like design and the chemical element style abbreviation of the original distillery. This particular release was selected by Konstantin Griogoriadis, a long-standing member of the group of whisky enthusiasts Malt Maniacs. Apparently, he loves old-school and sherry matured whisky, and he also selected Ar5 and Bw4. The core flavour of the Cl7 is (according tot the islay.com, an awesomely designed website by the way) ‘fresh citrus and coastal air’. Well, we can link that to Caol Ila, can’t we?
APPEARANCE. I-absolutely-love-it and very cool design, colour of the contents is light straw and has retained its natural colour.
NOSE. This is pure and fresh like sea air in the morning. Hint of chloride, like the bottle states, along with iodine, bandages, ozone, and a light sweetness in the back. Not that this is a light spirit, no, it is in fact quite pungent. Lemon juice lurking in the back? Paint, chloroform, coal tar and cigarette ashes are also to be found. It feels like working in a seaside chemical laboratory, while your assistant opens the window, but is lovely. (water) Now it goes more towards ashes and citrus fruits. Lime skin, oranges and grapefruit are all there. The scent keep swirling around in the glass and never seem to slow down. One moment you get a pungent gust of sea air and sea weed, while another moment the acidity of citric juice and orange parts come forward, then bonfire smoke along with burning cigarettes and cigars, or earthy peat, roots and smoked herbs are filling your nose. Intriguing.
TASTE. I find ashes, pungent peat, prickling, bandages, beach sand, sea salt, antiseptics, bonfire smoke, and some smoked herbs, probably rosemary and thyme. (water) Now it moves more towards earth, roots, dry peat, and a hint of ginger. The citrus fruits and bandages move more to the background. Barbecued herbs like basil, thyme, dragon and rosemary. Maybe I can find even some mint. Beach sand, mud, and some nuts arrive, I think Brazil nuts and almonds. I did not know that muddy sea water could be this lovely. Long finish.
VERDICT. It is good, very good. What a single cask, very well selected Konstantin! This shows how good Caol Ila can be and makes me very fond of this distillery. Not the one bragging around, just delivering good spirits. That’s the way I like it.
Recommended Obligatory for admirers of a good Caol Ila.
I bought a bottle of this from ‘t Bockje.
«What others say»
- @Whiskybase: Mean score of 89.09 (59 votes)
- Ruben @whiskynotes: “Interesting bottling from an otherwise very “narrow” / predictable distillery” Score 87/100
- Serge @whiskyfun: “I’m sure I could spend hours around a table chatting with the great people from The Whisky Exchange, debating this crucial issue: between the 1996 and the CI7, which is best? And we’d drink all the stock in the meantime…” Score: 90/100