Nose this whisky, and you’ll have no doubt: there’s great depth here. Still, you might not guess that it’s 35 years old. Every peated whisky aspires to hide its age this well. Imagine the best night cream in the world, applied with a badger hair brush–you know, to make the pores stand up right. Keep nosing, and it gets finer and finer, then sweet: it’s lemon meringue that’s been torched at an outdoor festival. The nose reminds us why Caol Ila is such a great unpeated dram: the base is so fruity and amazing, and it comes through here with the elegance and grace of a movie star-turned-Princess of Monaco. There are other notes here, though, too: tuna seared on the grill by a dolphin (that is to say, cooked very very rare); grilled capers, despite their tendency to fall through the grates (DAMMIT! Why?!?); and persimmons ably crossed with elderberries.
On the mouth, this dram is so phenomenal, it’s phenol-menal. It’s so stunning, it kills conversation. Amazing. Still, we searched out the descriptors: smoked flower salad, a mahogany chest used for aging sangria, a jolt of lilac honey when it hits the tongue, followed by a bold sailboat greased on the waves by antique grapefruit. This dram does not play anywhere near as hot as its 58% abc would suggest. Speaking of that: for a 35 year-old whisky to come in at 58%, they must have stored the casks in a Faraday cage to keep the angels at bay.
The finish is the best lamb vindaloo you’ve ever had, where they made the sauce with very heavy cream. To call this palate experience kaleidoscopic would be to do it an injustice. This is prismatic: it opens your mind like Dark Side of the Moon. While watching The Wizard of Oz. [John: More like The Wizard of Ah’s, amirite?] It’s so good, we find ourselves huffing our glasses once the liquid is gone. That after-nose (for lack of a better term) is so big, and it comes at you so slowly, it’s like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow man or a dirigible filled with helium–or a small man confronted by kindness and generosity.
On the scale of Democratic Presidential hopefuls–
The Caol Ila 35 Year Old 2018 Special Release is Pete Buttigieg—Even though the hiding age well comments at the beginning of this review might remind one of Marianne Williamson, it’s significant that we used words like “depth” and not ones like “wackadoodle.” It’s also significant that Buttigieg is 35 years old; and despite considerable skepticism amongst the electorate, this whisky could definitely be President. And Mayor Pete’s mind definitely works at “depth” level (and not at “wackadoodle” level). But the clincher: his last name is MALTese.
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!