Caol Ila 50 Years Old Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Cask 4021901 52.5% 1968
€ 8.462,46 (in Vat)
|Bottler||Gordon & MacPhail|
|Cask Type||Refill Sherry Hogshead|
|Condition||In Original Wooden Case|
Serge Valentin (93)
This is hard to fathom, Gordon & MacPhail were still having a cask (and possibly more) of Caol Ila from the old distillery! In truth these whiskies have become legendary, not only because they are now all old and rare, also because they were stunning whiskies, rather bolder than the ‘new’ Caol Ilas and nearer to the malts from the island’s south shore. I’ll add that all the 1968s from G&M (especially the Italians, Intertrade, Meregali…) were absolutely stunning, often +/-95-material. Which explains why I just cannot wait… Colour: gold.
Nose: camphor, garden bonfire, old embrocations, new linoleum (ask your parents, youngsters!), a pack of mint drops, Chartreuse (let’s not push things, not obligatorily Tarragona), vinyl acetate, rubber boots, angelica, menthol cigarettes, fresh mushrooms… Well you got it, there’s some kind of complexity in here, but let’s see if and how it swims. With water: but it would cross the Atlantic! Fantastic, wonderfully brine-y, very fresh, coastal, a tad tarry, smoky… This very profile is very hard to beat, and specifically ‘old Caol Ila’.
Mouth (neat): it’s a blessing that the strength remained quite high, this is still fresh and, as we all say, vibrant. We’re finding bitter citrus, a touch of wine vinegar, oysters, crystallised apples, Seville oranges, this feeling of sucking hessian or your tissue, smoked meats and fish, various candied fruits, and the subtlest smoked marmalade ever (provided someone already tried to make smoked marmalade). With water: amazing, tense, salty, as sooty as old CI could be, ashy, with a few pine needles and a smidgen of top-of-range toothpaste. And lemon.
Finish: rather long, just perfectly fresh, which really comes as a surprise.
Comments: an ode to age, or the new Helen Mirren of Scotch whisky. Congratulations, G&M! When bottlers write that a particular whisky was bottled ‘at its peak’, we usually take that as marketing speech (hot air, if you prefer). Not the case at all here, that’s actually totally possible. But we know that Caol Ila ages gracefully (right, just like Helen Mirren).
Words of Whisky
The complexity on the nose is what makes the Caol Ila especially stunning. There's just so much going on.
Very subtle whiffs of peat smoke, rubber soles, and whispers of hospital hallways. I'm not suggesting any iodine here, but like that antiseptic quality that just lives inside hospitals. And in this case I mean it as a good thing. There's touches of soy and mushrooms too, while there's also some fennel and aniseed, as well as vanilla, oranges and sultanas. And all supremely balanced.
The peat smoke is subtle, yet still fairly intense considering the advanced age of this whisky. Quite salty too, and a fair amount of charcoal and tar, as well as smoked cod. I love the sweet orange marmalade, and caramel glazed apples. Obviously very mature, yet the oak manages to restrain itself.
Lingering oak tannins, with embers and peat. Long.