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Caol Ila

Caol Ila 20 Year Old Hunter Laing Old & Rare Platinum Selection

€440.78 $520.37 £389.00

Peat

Smoke, barbecue, medicine, farmyard aromas

By far the most polarising of all whisky flavours - and in some ways, that most distinctive of Scotch whisky. Peat is a type of fossil fuel, halfway between soil and coal, which produces a very aromatic smoke as it burns, and is widespread in the Scottish Highlands and islands. It has long been used to dry out malted barley in preparation for making whisky…and the aroma of the smoke lingers throughout the whole distillation process and the subsequent years of maturation.

The resulting flavour is often described as “medicinal” - associated with disinfectants such as TCP, especially by its detractors. Those who enjoy the flavour may be more likely to compare it to the scent of a barbecue, or a welcoming fireplace on a cold winter night.

Peat is almost universally associated with the Islay region - although some Islay whiskies have no peat, while many non-Islay whiskies do. As the flavour derives from the malted barley rather than the cask, it is generally more upfront in younger whiskies than in older expressions, where the cask has had more time to influence the overall style - this is why most Islay whiskies, renowned for their peaty flavours, are bottled at 10 or 12 years with relatively little spirit kept for older ages (Lagavulin is a notable exception). The most notorious of peaty whiskies is probably Laphroaig, while the crown of the “world’s peatiest whisky” is held by Bruichladdich’s Octomore series. At the other end of the scale, those flavours produced by relatively light peating levels are described by the earth flavour tag.

Because of the distinctiveness and the sheer intensity of peaty flavours, they can be difficult to pair with cigars: generally, the fuller-flavoured the cigar, the more likely it is to complement an intensely peaty whisky. In this sense, Bolivar, Partagas and certain Cohibas are safe choices. You may like to experiment a little more and try other cigars that are marked by flavours of leather, pepper or toast, however.

Fresh Fruit

Citrus, berries, apple, pear

One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Speyside region, fruity flavours are also common in the Islands (so long as peat does not dominate) and in many Lowland single malts. It is a curious coincidence to find overt flavours of fruits in a spirit made from grain, and therefore of a completely different provenance to brandy or wine: these flavours of fresh fruit - to be distinguished from the drier flavours of raisins, red grape or fruitcake that derive from sherry-cask maturation and are grouped under the ‘dried fruit’ tag - owe much to the influence of ex-bourbon barrels made from American Oak. These casks generally produce vibrant aromas with a far lighter and fresher character than the heavy, dry European Oak sherry casks: tropical fruits, such as pineapple, kiwi or coconut, are a common comparison.

Some whiskies present clear flavours of apple or pear, such as Glenfiddich 12-year-old and many other Speyside whiskies in a similar style (our Treasurer’s Selection Benrinnes is an excellent example). Others tend towards a tarter citrus flavour, such as the orange notes in Dalmore or the tropical fruits of Arran. Flavours of red berries often derive from wine casks - raspberry, strawberry or cherry are common flavours in port-cask matured whiskies (see e.g. Balvenie Portwood or Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban), while drier flavours of cranberry or red plum may result from various red wine finishes (e.g. Longrow Red, or many of the wine cask expressions from Edradour). It is a wide-ranging set of flavours with all sorts of possible incarnations, and a good test for the learner’s palate: it is easy to define a whisky as tasting ‘fruity’, but is it fresh fruit or dried? Apple, citrus or berry? Raspberry, blackberry or boysenberry…?

Some cigars have slightly fruity flavours themselves, which are an obvious pairing: consider the floral flavours of Romeo y Julieta or San Cristobal, for example. Grassy or sweet flavours may also complement this diverse and expressive flavour profile.

Honey

Treacle, toffee, caramel, heather

The sweetness of honey is one of the most common flavours in Scotch whisky…particularly in younger examples of the popular Speyside style that forms the basis of many of the most popular blends, but also in the Highlands and, perhaps most characteristically, the Lowlands. The Island whiskies, too, often express a honey-like sweetness in their lighter forms. This is usually the result of the natural sugars present in malted barley, and so is generally more apparent in younger whiskies (up to 15-18 years of age) before too much of heftier flavours like wood, spice or dried fruit are imparted from the cask.

A richer, toffee-like sweetness often derives from European oak casks (generally ex-sherry), while American oak (ex-bourbon or newer sherry casks) produces a lighter, vanilla-tinged flavour that complements the natural sugars of the barley. The marshmallow-like sweetness of bourbon often translates into a lighter honey-like flavour in Scotch matured in ex-bourbon casks.

Good examples of single malts that carry strong flavours of honey are the classic Glenlivet and its many Speyside brethren; the lightness and softness of Lowlanders Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan; and the heathery sweetness of younger Highland Parks or some Highlanders like Dalwhinnie or Glen Garioch. In addition, virtually all of the biggest names in blended whisky are marked by this kind of flavour - the house styles of Johnnie Walker, J&B and Chivas Regal all depend on that sweet, youthful Speyside core. All of them are likely to go well with lighter cigars, particularly those with sweet flavours of their own, such as Hoyo de Monterrey.

 

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Caol Ila 25 Year Old Hunter Laing Old & Rare Platinum Selection Single Cask Islay Malt Scotch Whisky.

Distilled March 1991, bottled...read more

Tasting Notes

A light golden coloured whisky with a robust, full  bodied nose with sweet vanilla, butter shortbread and stewed rhubarb then effortlessly, the peaty seaweed smoky aroma appears. On the palate it is creamy with fudge, peaches and pineapple before that peat comes through again leaving a long, lingering finish with a dry hint of peat smoke.

Product Info

Caol Ila 25 Year Old Hunter Laing Old & Rare Platinum Selection Single Cask Islay Malt Scotch Whisky.

Distilled March 1991, bottled January 2017.  One of 276 bottles.

70cl, 53.3% vol

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Delivery Information

Robert Graham uses reputable courier services and we ship worldwide. Within the UK we aim to deliver within 2 working days. International delivery times vary depending on destination. After your purchase has been processed, you will receive an email notification with your delivery tracking number.

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Note: Regrettably we cannot ship cigars or any other tobacco products to the USA and Canada.

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